Now the Czech president, and the PM, have joined in:
By Marek Miler and Katya Andrusz
March 27 (Bloomberg) -- Czech President Vaclav Klaus and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk declined invitations to the Olympic Games in Beijing following clashes between Tibetan protesters and Chinese security forces.
``Those who sometime in the 1990s voted for the Olympics to go to China should not now be pretending they're surprised that China is what it is,'' Klaus said on his Web site. Tusk will skip the opening ceremony, Agnieszka Liszka, his spokeswoman, said by phone, confirming a report in Poland's Dziennik newspaper.
Poland will also try to convince other European Union countries that the bloc should speak out more strongly on the issue of Tibet, Dziennik reported, citing Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Ryszard Schnepf as saying.
In the Czech Republic, which like Poland overthrew communism in 1989, politicians including former President Vaclav Havel, who helped bring down the former system as a dissident playwright, have called for the EU to press for greater human rights in countries including Cuba and Belarus.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said this week he wouldn't rule out a boycott of the opening ceremony, and appealed ``to the Chinese leaders' sense of responsibility'' to stop the crackdown in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital.
Czech Education Minister Ondrej Liska, Environment Minister Martin Bursik and Prague Mayor Pavel Bem also turned down the Czech Olympic Committee's invitation to the games, newspaper Hospodarske Noviny reported. It is still not known whether Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek will attend, the newspaper said.
``If a country's dignitaries decline an invitation to the Olympics, it's between the dignitary and the local Olympic committee of the country,'' Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a phone interview when asked about Klaus's decision. ``China invites dignitaries, royal families and ministers via local Olympic committees in each country.''
China blames the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, for instigating the biggest protests in almost 20 years, which began March 10 in Lhasa and spread to neighboring provinces. Security forces have killed about 140 protesters since the demonstrations began, the Tibetan government-in-exile based in Dharamshala, northern India, said in a statement on March 24.
Western nations including the U.S., Germany and Britain have urged the Chinese authorities to open a dialogue with the Dalai Lama.