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Reporters Without Borders Holding Demonstration to Protest Free Speech Curbs in China


The Paris-based journalist advocacy group Reporters Without Borders is holding a demonstration Friday to protest free speech curbs in China. Lisa Bryant has more from the French capital.

The demonstrations come six months ahead of the opening on August 8 of the Olympic games in Beijing. China had promised to improve its human rights conditions ahead of the games. Reporters Without Borders, or RSF, is one of a number of human rights groups who fear this is not the case.

"Our concern is that despite all the promises that were made in 2001 by the Chinese authorities to get the games, we monitor a lot of press violations. Especially detention of journalists and cyber dissidents," explained Vincent Brossel, the head of the Asia desk at Reporters Without Borders in Paris.

According to RSF, 35 journalists and 51 dissidents and human rights defenders have faced political subversion charges in recent months. And Brossel says there are more Chinese journalists in jail now than in 2001.

Earlier this year, Beijing also formally arrested a prominent Chinese human rights advocate, Hu Jia.

But China is also debating whether to relax control of the Internet during the games. Beijing lifted travel and interview restrictions on foreign journalists at the start of this year. And on Tuesday, China freed a Hong Kong-based reporter jailed for five years for allegedly spying for Taiwan.

Brossel hopes the Paris protest will send a message to the Olympic committee as well.

"The main message goes to the IOC - the International Olympic Committee. In talking freely and strongly to the Chinese government they have the responsibility to defend Olympic values," Brossel said.

Other human rights groups have also protested China's human rights abuses in recent weeks, and Amnesty International is organizing a similar protest on Monday.

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