France bans demos outside Chinese embassy

8th August 2008, Comments 0 comments

French authorities ban demonstrators as they fear repeat of violent disturbances that broke out during the world tour of the Olympic torch.

8 August 2008

PARIS - French authorities have banned rights groups from demonstrating outside the Chinese embassy in Paris on Thursday and Friday, according to a ruling sent to media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

The Paris police department ruling said it was seeking to prevent a repeat of the "violent disturbances" that broke out during the Olympic flame's passage in April, marked by protests by pro-Tibet and rights activists.

The ruling, a copy of which was sent to AFP, bans "all gatherings" from Thursday at 7:00 am (0500 GMT) to Friday at midnight (2200 GMT) within a fixed perimeter surrounding the Chinese embassy and consulate.

It said the demonstrations risked being "perceived by part of the local population as a provocation likely to spark hostile reactions and seriously disrupt public order".

RSF had called for a rally outside the embassy at 1:00 pm (1100 GMT) Friday, to coincide with the Olympic opening ceremony in Beijing, attended by world leaders including French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

"We have called for demonstrations outside the Chinese embassies in seven European countries. France is the only one where we have been blocked," said RSF head Robert Menard.

"Does this mean that it is the Chinese embassy that decides who has the right to demonstrate in Paris?"

RSF said it was the first time it had ever been banned from staging a demonstration in France.

The media watchdog has filed to have the ruling overturned before a Paris court, with a decision due Friday at 10:30 am (0830 GMT), less than two hours before the planned rally.

A separate demonstration called by a range of rights group at the Trocadero in central Paris will go ahead as planned Friday at 1:00 pm.

[AFP / Expatica]

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