04/28/2008, 00.00
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The leaders of the free world should boycott the opening ceremony of the Olympics, says bishop Tutu

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate makes a heartfelt appeal at a ceremony welcoming the pro-Tibet “alternative Olympic torch”. “We pray that the Chinese will know that it is in their best interests” to respect human rights.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – “The leaders of the free world, for goodness sake, don't attend the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games until it is quite clear that they (the Chinese) mean business and that they will stop the violence against the Tibetans,” Archbishop and Nobel peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu said in Cape Town (South Africa) during a ceremony for an alternative “Tibetan” Olympic torch.

The “alternative” Olympic torch was kindled in Delhi on 30 January and will travel to cities on five continents before arriving in May back in Dharamsala, India, where Tibet's government-in-exile is based, to remember the “cultural genocide” denounced by Tibetan exiles.

“Let us make China know this is a moral universe,” Reverend Tutu said to applause.

“We must tell them ‘watch out' because there is no way in which wrong will prevail forever. There is no way that injustice will prevail forever. We must tell all those oppressors, let us whisper in the ear of (Zimbabwean President Robert) Mugabe ‘you have already lost',” he said.

Zimbabwe has been criticised for failing to release the results of a 29 March presidential election, which the opposition said it won after 28 years of Mugabe rule.

An ally of mainland China the African country is at the end of its tether with inflation running at 1,600 per cent and the opposition complaining about systematic violence by the authorities following the vote.

A few days ago a cargo ship carrying weapons destined for Zimbabwe was stopped in South Africa.

The Olympic torch relay around the world was met by criticism at Beijing for its human rights violations in Tibet and in China proper.

Asked about Beijing’s recent announcement of talks with aides of Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Tutu said he hoped they would be “meaningful negotiations”.

“We pray that the Chinese will know that it is in their best interests to do that,” he said.

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