American actor Richard Gere has called for a "general boycott" of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

In an interview with Reuters, the devout Buddhist said that the Olympics offered an opportunity to encourage China to end human rights abuses in Tibet.

A committed philanthropist, Gere has worked to raise awareness of the plight of the Tibetan people under violent occupation by the Chinese communist regime. He has been barred from visiting China for his support of Tibet.

In 1993 he spoke out about the plight of the Himalayan region at the Academy Awards and now he would like the area to have a chance to decide its own future.

In August, Tibetans in New Delhi and New York marched in their thousands, calling for a boycott of the Beijing games.

"A general boycott to me certainly has value; it's probably impractical, but emotionally absolutely makes sense," Gere said. "Why should the world reward people who are obviously so bad to their own people, so bad to other people?"

Gere was most recently seen on Irish cinema screens in 'The Hoax', about a bogus Howard Hughes biography.