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Olympic relay: Paris to highlight human rights

A banner supporting human rights will be draped over Paris City Hall when the Olympic torch relay passes through the French capital.

world Updated: Apr 03, 2008 12:09 IST

A banner supporting human rights will be draped over Paris City Hall when the Olympic torch relay passes through the French capital on Monday.

Mayor Bertrand Delanoe said City Hall will display the banner because "Paris defends human rights all over the world."

Delanoe spoke yesterday at the announcement of the route for the torch relay, which will start at the Eiffel Tower.

David Douillet, a two-time gold medalist in judo, said torch carriers will wear badges as a "distinctive sign" celebrating free expression, without saying what will be written on them.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) promised to protest China's crackdown on demonstrations in Tibet. Robert Menard, the group's president, condemned China as "the biggest prison in the world" and said his members would wear T-shirts during the relay with the five rings of the Olympic logo depicted as handcuffs.

"(There is) a contradiction between the International Olympic Committee and human rights," said Menard, adding that not enough has been done by France's Olympic Committee (CNOSF) to pressure the IOC over China.

"The French Olympic Committee did not want us to reach an understanding with us (over Tibet)," said Menard, who was wearing the handcuffs T-shirt. "We will take action the day of the procession."

CNOSF president Henri Serandour backed Delanoe's banner initiative and called the procession "a message of peace," but urged RSF not to disrupt the relay because "respect must be shown to the athletes carrying this torch.