A story from Greece today makes us very nervous.
Protesters from a Paris-based press freedom group were among those who disrupted the Beijing Olympics flame-lighting ceremony in Ancient Olympia on Monday. Protesters ran onto the stadium field during the ceremony, evading massive security aimed at preventing such disruptions in the wake of China’s crackdown on Tibet.
The Associated Press reports that three protesters from Reporters Without Borders (aka Reporters san Frontiers or "RSF") face misdemeanor charges of disrespectful behavior at a public event. Police said the men, who had been accredited to attend the ceremony as journalists, were being held in the nearby town of Pyrgos.
”If the Olympic flame is sacred, human rights are even more so,” RSF said in a statement. ”We cannot let the Chinese government seize the Olympic flame, a symbol of peace, without denouncing the dramatic situation of human rights in the country.”
China’s Communist leadership certainly has much to atone for. And a press freedom group is certainly entitled to speak its views. But two aspects of RSF’s actions today disturb us.
First, it is difficult to maintain credibility as a journalistic organization when you move from the realm of reporting the news to making it. And second, RSF’s actions may make it even more dangerous for the world’s journalists to report from the summer games in Beijing. Expect to see scores of international journalists locked up once the games begin.