Boycott Beijing Olympics, China Expert Says


FRONT ROYAL, Va., July 16, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ –

Steven W. Mosher, well-known China expert, calls for a boycott of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, saying that the games will only serve to legitimize a one-party dictatorship that has a deplorable human rights record.

“The Olympics is intended to be a celebration of the human spirit,” says Mosher. “But the spirit of the Chinese people, not to mention the spirit of the Tibetans and other minorities, is being crushed under the weight of an oppressive regime. We should no more celebrate the Olympics in China in 2008, than we should have celebrated the Olympics in Nazi-controlled Berlin in 1936.”

Mosher reminds the world that China’s rights record has not improved in recent years; rather, it has actually gotten worse. “China is one of the worst violators of human rights in the world,” he explains. “Giving the Chinese Communist Party bragging rights over the games makes a mockery of their meaning.”

Mosher has formed the “Beijing Boycott Coalition” to oppose the Beijing Olympics. The coalition invites activists and groups of different backgrounds to join in protesting ongoing human rights violations in China by refusing to watch the games or patronize its sponsors.

All individuals and groups concerned about human rights, whether their issue is the suppression of journalism, the persecution of religious groups, or forced abortion, are welcome to join the coalition. The Beijing Boycott Coalition reaches across ideological boundaries to include all those who care deeply about human rights and the Chinese people, and want to send a message to the Beijing regime.

For more information about the coalition, or to sign up for its e-mails, visit www.beijingboycottcoalition.com.

- Report Via Market Watch

Japan: Buddhist Temple Refuses To Host China Olympic Torch, Event Starting Venue Forced To Change


AFP, Apr. 18, 2008-Zenkoji Temple, Japan

TOKYO (AFP) — Monks at an ancient Japanese Buddhist temple on Friday pulled out of hosting a ceremony for the protest-marred Olympic torch relay because of China’s crackdown in Tibet.

Organisers of the Japanese leg of the global tour have been forced to change the starting point after Zenkoji Temple said it would no longer welcome the torch, which has been dogged by protests since it was lit in Greece last month.

(Photo: Zenkoji Temple, Japan/ AFP)

“Tibetan religious leaders stood up but (China) is cracking down on them,” Shinsho Wakaomi, a senior official at the temple, told a press conference in the city of Nagano, host of the 1998 Winter Olympics.

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said the temple’s decision was “unfortunate because it is something for everyone to enjoy.

“I want the (relay) organisers to make sure there will be few problems,” he added.

The temple, which rang bells for the opening ceremonies for the 1998 Nagano Games as well as for the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics, had “fondly accepted” an invitation last year to host the ceremony on April 26, another temple official told AFP.

“But the situation has changed,” the official said. “Monks here are very concerned” about what happened in Tibet.

Zenkoji, which was built in the seventh century and draws six million visitors every year, said it had received many phone calls urging it not to host the ceremony.

Local government official Kunihiko Shinohara said he was “shocked” by the temple’s move.

But he added: “We respect the decision by Zenkoji and will change the starting venue.”

Japan, which has said it opposes letting China send guards to protect the Olympic flame when it arrives, has already cancelled a public celebration linked to the relay due to security concerns.

The government indicated that it would not get involved in the relay route, saying it was an issue for the Nagano authorities and the International Olympic Committee.

“It is not a matter in which the government would intervene,” top government spokesman Nobutaka Machimura told reporters.

The torch, whose journey before the Beijing Games in August has turned into a public relations headache for China’s leaders, arrived in Thailand on Friday from India, where many protesters were arrested.

A crackdown on demonstrations in Tibet has put the spotlight on China’s heavily criticised record on human rights and triggered demonstrations at many of the torch’s stops, notably London and Paris.

The three corporate sponsors of the Japanese leg — the local arms of Coca-Cola, Lenovo and Samsung — said Friday they would not send advertising vehicles to accompany the relay although they denied any link to Tibet.

Coca-Cola had intended to send a sales promotion car with its red corporate logo but has now abandoned the plan, a company spokesman said.

“We were told that the motorcade will be very long due to security reasons, which will reduce the effectiveness of our promotion activity,” he said, adding that the decision was “nothing to do” with Tibet.

Lenovo said its decision not to mobilise a promotion vehicle was made in March “due to budgetary reasons.”

Tibetan exiles in India say more than 150 Tibetans have been killed in China’s crackdown on the protests against its rule of the Himalayan region. Beijing says Tibetan “rioters” have killed 20 people.

The temple’s decision to refuse the Olympic flame came during a visit to Japan by Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who on Thursday rebuffed Japanese pressure over Tibet, reiterating that Beijing sees it as an internal matter.

- Original report from AFP: Japanese temple refuses to host Olympic torch

European Parliament Urges Leaders to Boycott the Opening Ceremony of China Beijing Olympics


By Darren Ennis, Reuters, Thu Apr 10, 2008-

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Parliament urged European Union leaders on Thursday to boycott the opening ceremony at the Beijing Olympics unless China starts talks with the Dalai Lama over the situation in Tibet.

“The European Parliament calls on the EU presidency … to strive to find a common EU position with regard to attendance at the Olympic Games opening ceremony with the option of non-attendance in the event that there is no resumption of dialogue between the Chinese authorities and His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” the assembly said.

The non-binding resolution, adopted by an overwhelming majority, added to pressure on EU leaders to take a stronger stand over “the brutal repression” of Tibetan protests by China, a major and fast-growing economic partner for Europe.

It also calls on the EU to “appoint a special envoy for Tibetan issues to facilitate dialogue between the two sides” and seeks “the immediate release of all those who protested peacefully”.

“Today’s vote sends an ultimatum to the Chinese authorities that if they wish to have political legitimacy at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, then they have until August 8 to open meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama,” leader of the Liberals in the assembly told Reuters.

So far EU president Slovenia and senior EU officials have condemned violence in Tibet and called on Beijing to open a dialogue with the exiled spiritual leader on cultural and religious rights but stopped short of any call to boycott the Olympic Games.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s office confirmed on Wednesday he would not attend the opening ceremony and China said he had never been expected to attend. Brown will attend the closing ceremony. Britain will host the 2012 Games.

The directly elected EU legislature has no direct say in European foreign policy, but it is an echo chamber for public opinion and exerts political pressure on member states, the European Commission and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering, a close ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said last month the EU should examine the possibility of staying away from the Beijing opening ceremony and invited the Dalai Lama to address the house.

“Now that the president has the full mandate of the parliament, he will be having bilateral talks with the presidency and Solana to push the issue and seek a strong common EU position,” a spokesman for Poettering said.

He added that Poettering will also discuss a possible boycott at a meeting of leaders of the European People’s Party — which includes the ruling party’s of Germany and France — in Dublin next week.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country will hold the EU presidency at the time of the Games in August, has said his decision on whether to attend the ceremony will depend on whether China has resumed a dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

“China promised change when they were awarded the games, but nothing has changed and I think the world’s politicians are waking up to that,” British Conservative MEP and assembly vice-president Edward McMillan-Scott told Reuters television.

“The fact that the parliament has now voted with such a huge majority … a lot more people are coming around to the idea of a political boycott, which I think is an essential weapon against China.” …… (more details from Reuters: EU assembly moots Olympics ceremony boycott)

San Francisco Welcomes Human Rights Torch Relay For China


By Ivan Velinov, Epoch Times San Francisco Staff, Apr 07, 2008-

Olympian John Carlos (holding torch) is famous for making the 'black power' salute while standing on the medal podium at the 1968 Mexico City Games. (Ivailo Anguelov/The Epoch Times)

SAN FRANCISCO—The Global Human Rights Torch, designed to shed light on the human rights injustices in China, was greeted by hundreds of people as it was passing through San Francisco four days ahead of the official Beijing Olympic torch relay.

San Francisco is the only appearance of the Beijing Olympic torch in North America, but China’s poor human rights record sparked escalating protests and controversy at almost every stop of the torch relay en route to Beijing.

Saturday’s protest in San Francisco’s Union Square drew a significant crowd including local politician Supervisor Chris Daly, 1968 Mexico City Olympians John Carlos (bronze medal. See photo above/the Epochtimes) and Lynn Vidali Gautschi (silver medal), renowned Canadian human rights

lawyer David Matas, and representatives of Tibet, Burma, Darfur, Falun Gong, Catholicism, and other concerned groups.

During the event— which featured a live concert, a six-kilometer run, a rally, and a panel discussion—human rights activists urged the world to stage protests of the Beijing Olympics in order to put pressure on China’s officials. China had promised to improve human rights to obtain the honor of hosting the 2008 games. However, in the name of “preparation” for the Olympics, the Chinese government continues to brutally suppress its own people, as well as the people of Tibet, and is aiding the killing in Darfur and Burma, protesters said.

(photo right: Former Chinese National Basketball player Kai Chen carries the Human Rights Torch into San Francisco’s Union Square. / Ivailo Anguelov, The Epoch Times)

“The Human Rights Torch Relay embodies San Francisco values, values of human rights, values of individual liberty, and the responsibility that injustice is exposed,” said Supervisor Daly at the rally.

“Knowing about human rights abuses the Chinese government is notorious about around the world, the people of San Francisco will respond to the Olympic torch with alarm and with protest.”

The Global Human Rights Torch Relay— which is a worldwide campaign running through 150 major cities in 37 countries, across 6 continents— attracted San Francisco tourists, shoppers, and protesters who

Tibetan supporters hope to bring an end to the crackdown on their people. (Ivailo Anguelov/The Epoch Times)

held signs and banners with slogans of: “The Olympics and crimes against humanity cannot coexist in China,” “Free Tibet,” and “Darfur–Bloody Olympics.”

The international event is initiated by the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong. Falun Gong is a spiritual practice based on meditation and exercise, banned in China in 1999, whose practitioners have been persecuted and tortured in China.

On Tuesday, a Tibetan Freedom Torch will also pass through San Francisco on its way to Los Angeles to protest the Chinese government’s treatment of Tibetans and the exile of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Movie star Richard Gere and Archbishop Desmond Tutu are expected to address a candlelight vigil for Tibet outside City Hall in the evening.

(Photo above: Tibetan supporters hope to bring an end to the crackdown on their people. (Ivailo Anguelov/The Epoch Times)

…..( more details from The Epochtimes)

Canada Should Consider An Outright Boycott of The China Beijing Olympic Games: Editorial from National Post


Editorial board, The National Post, March 27, 2008-

So far, world leaders have avoided calling for a full-scale boycott of this summer’s Beijing Olympics. But as Beijing’s brutal treatment of Tibetans becomes more overt, and as the regime’s rhetoric becomes more shrill and paranoid, that may change.

China’s violence against Tibetans has spread from Lhasa to neighbouring Chinese provinces with large Tibetan populations. Most cities are under martial law. Roadblocks prevent internal travel, and keep Western journalists from reporting the truth. Police and soldiers are going house-to-house searching for suspects. Over 100 already have died, and at least 700 have been arrested. This week, the Chinese government issued a 53-name “most-wanted” list containing the names of people it claims incited the deadly mid-March antigovernment protests. Included on the list were known dissidents whom Beijing has singled out because of their political views rather than any complicity in the Lhasa uprising.

In view of all this, Canada must find a meaningful way of communicating its disgust with Beijing’s actions. At the very least, Stephen Harper’s government should announce that Canada is boycotting the Games’ Aug. 8 opening ceremonies (an idea that is also being explored by several European countries). We should also announce that no federal officials will attend the Games.

By boycotting the opening ceremony — and urging other nations to do the same — Canada would help diminish the value of the Olympics as a propaganda tool for the Chinese government. Beijing is anxious for the event to be seen as a sort of coming-of-age party — de facto proof that China has been accepted into the community of civilized nations. By boycotting the opening ceremonies, the message would be very different: We are sending our athletes to the Olympics because Beijing, regrettably, is the location the International Olympic Committee (IOC) selected — but we are holding our nose while doing so.

We should be prepared to do more, too. If China’s actions in Tibet (or anywhere else) becoming bloodier –if we begin to witness atrocities on the scale of the 1989 Tiananmen Square killings — then Canada should boycott the Games outright.

Ottawa should now put the Chinese on notice that this is an option we are considering. We also should make plans for following through on the threat if the need arises. Specifically, Canada should attempt to form a coalition of democracies that would pressure the IOC to take the Summer Games away from China if events warrant. The Games wouldn’t have to be canceled: Olympic sports could easily be divvied up among sites in other nations.

There are several stadiums — including London’s 90,000-seat New Wembley — that could host track and field. Germany just hosted soccer’s World Cup less than two years ago, and its pitches could accommodate the Olympic tournament. Basketball could be held at any one of 50 sites in the United States. Montreal recently hosted the world championships of diving, and could easily accommodate the aquatic events. And so on.

We have no illusions about the challenges that principled nations would face in implementing such a plan. Boycotts are often ineffectual. They seldom change the disputed policies of the host country. The 1980 boycott of the Moscow Olympics by Western athletes, for instance, neither convinced the Soviets to withdraw from Afghanistan nor brought about the immediate fall of communism.

“Alternative games” typically fare no better. Who remembers the Liberty Bell Classic organized in 1980 by the 29 countries that refused to send athletes to Moscow, or 1984′s Friendship Games, held by the 50 countries that stayed away from that summer’s Los Angeles Olympics in retaliation for the 1980 boycott? At both alternate competitions, several performances bested those of the gold medal winner at the official Olympics, but no one recalls who won at the second-best games.

The lesson: If a China boycott is to have real impact, the IOC must take away the official Olympics from China outright, and give the sports to other venues. The games that take place in alternate locations must be held under the banner of the “real” Olympics — otherwise, they aren’t worth staging.

Despite China’s newfound wealth and growing international influence, the country’s actions in Tibet show that its leaders are nothing more than old-style communists — paranoid, nationalistic to the point of obsession and brutal to all those who challenge their policies. Yet so far, the IOC has been reluctant even to acknowledge China’s sins — despite the fact that China’s actions contravene explicit promises Beijing made to IOC officials as a condition for being awarded the 2008 Games.

Even if China continues to commit atrocities against its own people, convincing IOC officials to move the Games will not be easy. That is why Ottawa must take a leadership role in building the groundwork– starting now.

- Original report from National Post: The Post editorial board: Harper’s government should consider an outright boycott of the Beijing Games

Polish PM Says No to China Beijing Olympic Opening


BBC News, Thursday, 27 March 2008-

Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk has said he does not intend to go to the opening of the Olympics in August in the wake of China’s crackdown in Tibet.

In comments to the Dziennik newspaper, confirmed by his spokesman, he said Poland was a medium-sized country and was not looking to take the first step.

“But my opinion is very clear: the presence of politicians at the Games’ inauguration seems inappropriate.”

EU foreign ministers will discuss Tibet at a meeting in Slovenia on Friday.

But so far there has been little appetite for a boycott of the Olympic Games.

EU foreign affairs chief Javier Solana said earlier this month that he would attend the opening of the Games and Cyprus and Denmark have called for the event to remain clear of politics.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has not ruled out a boycott of the opening ceremony.

Czech President Vaclav Klaus has announced he will not be going to the opening ceremony although he said his motivation was “not a threat to China”.

- Original report from BBC: Polish PM’s No to Olympic opening

China Farmer Rights Activist Yang Chunlin Sentenced to 5 Years for Against Beijing Olympics


By Fang Xiaocai, Epoch Times Staff, Mar 26, 2008-Yang Chunlin

Olympic human rights activist Yang Chunlin was sentenced to five years imprisonment Tuesday for ‘inciting subversion of state power’ by championing his cause with the slogan, “We don’t want the Olympics, we want human rights.”

(photo: At the trial, Yang was shrouded in black and surrounded by court police. /The Epoch Times)

While being taken from the courtroom, police shocked him with electric batons in front of his family. The 20-minute trial took place in the Jiamusi City Intermediate People’s Court in Heilongjiang Province.

Rejecting that the Chinese authorities’ judicial system is legitimate, Yang refused to sign the court document and insists he will not appeal his sentence.

Yang, a 53-year-old unemployed factory worker, is also is a freelance writer under the pen-name, “Wei Houren.” At the end of 2006, Yang advocated for farmers who lost their farmlands in Fujin City, Heilongjiang. He collected over 10,000 signatures on an open petition letter titled, “We want human rights, not the Olympics.” On July 6, Yang was arrested by the National Security Bureau in Jiamusi. On August 13, he was charged with ‘inciting subversion of state power.’

Yang’s attorney Li Fangping stated that his client received a sentence that was unduly harsh. He said Yang will now have ten days to decide whether to appeal.

Yang’s sister, Yang Chunping, explained that the court hearing, beginning at 3pm on the afternoon of March 24, lasted about 20 minutes in total.

“The court sentenced him to five years imprisonment and two years deprivation of political rights, on charges of ‘inciting subversion of state power’ because he posted articles online attacking the ruling regime,” said Chunping.

“When asked for his opinion of the verdict, [my brother] declared that the Chinese judicial system isn’t legal at all. So what kind of opinion could he have over the sentence? Because his behavior is in complete compliance with the country’s freedom of speech laws, his sentencing was not legal. Therefore, he refused to sign on the written judgment. He also expressed that he would not appeal, a decision he had already determined.”

Police Beat Yang with Electric Batons on Site

After the hearing, Chunping said her brother was quickly taken away from court. His family members wished to say a few words to him, urging him to reconsider an appeal. But court police prevented any contact with his family by shocking Yang with electric batons.

“Our family members only wanted to tell my brother to appeal, but the police didn’t allow him to speak. They used electric batons to shock him several times,” said Chunping. “My brother was hurt so terribly that he covered his abdomen with his hands. Upon witnessing this tragic scene, my family members all cried loudly in protest and officers quickly threw my brother into a police vehicle.”

“Although my brother didn’t sign the sentence in writing after the hearing, the court forced my sister to sign a copy for relatives. We don’t know whether this will have any legal effect.”

With no signature Yang’s sentence was still valid, said Attorney Li Fangping, as the court had an open hearing.

If Yang did choose to appeal, Li said he would still continue to represent him. But said the case is possibly over, as Yang had openly expressed that he would not appeal.

The court was contacted following the hearing, but no one answered the phone.

- Original report from The Epochtimes: Olympic Protester Sentenced to Five Years Imprisonment, Beaten

Czech President Will Not Attend China Beijing Olympics


AFP via Times of India, 27 Mar 2008-

PRAGUE: Czech President Vaclav Klaus said on Wednesday that he would not attend the Olympic Games in Beijing, following criticism that he has not done enough to protest China’s crackdown in Tibet.

But Klaus — who has previously expressed concern over the situation in Tibet — played down the significance of his decision, which he said was extremely unlikely to weigh heavily on the Beijing government.

“I am not sure that the absence of a politician from the Olympic Games opening ceremony will serve as a warning. This applies even more so for a politician from a country that has 130 times fewer inhabitants,” he said.

“Those who decided in the 1990s to award the games to China cannot be surprised today that China is such as it is,” he noted, in a statement published on his personal website.

Klaus was the third Czech politician to announce his decision not to go to Beijing, following in the path of Prague’s Mayor Pavel Bem and the country’s sports and education minister, Ondrej Liska.

- Report from Times of India

Six Leaders Urge IOC To Consider Whether Still Holding The Olympic Games in China


The Guardian, UK, Mar. 20, 2008-

The recent events in Tibet and adjoining provinces are causes for deep concern. Indeed, the dispersal of a peaceful protest march organised by Tibetan monks, which led to a wave of unrest that was brutally suppressed by the Chinese military and police, has caused indignation all over the democratic world.

The reaction of the Chinese authorities to the Tibetan protests evokes echoes of the totalitarian practices that many of us remember from the days before communism in Central and Eastern Europe collapsed in 1989: harsh censorship of the domestic media, blackouts of reporting by foreign media from China, refusal of visas to foreign journalists, and blaming the unrest on the “Dalai Lama’s conspiratorial clique” and other unspecified dark forces supposedly manipulated from abroad. Indeed, the language used by some Chinese government representatives and the official Chinese media is a reminder of the worst of times during the Stalinist and Maoist eras. But the most dangerous development of this unfortunate situation is the current attempt to seal off Tibet from the rest of the world.

Even as we write, it is clear that China’s rulers are trying to reassure the world that peace, quiet, and “harmony” have again prevailed in Tibet. We all know this kind of peace from what has happened in the past in Burma, Cuba, Belarus and a few other countries – it is called the peace of the graveyard.

Merely urging the Chinese government to exercise the “utmost restraint” in dealing with the Tibetan people, as governments around the world are doing, is far too weak a response. The international community, beginning with the United Nations and followed by the European Union, Asean, and other international organisations, as well as individual countries, should use every means possible to step up pressure on the Chinese government to allow foreign media, as well as international fact-finding missions, into Tibet and adjoining provinces in order to enable objective investigations of what has been happening; release all those who only peacefully exercised their internationally guaranteed human rights, and guarantee that no one is subjected to torture and unfair trials; enter into a meaningful dialogue with the representatives of the Tibetan people.

Unless these conditions are fulfilled, the International Olympic Committee should seriously reconsider whether holding this summer’s Olympic games in a country that includes a peaceful graveyard remains a good idea.

Also signed by:

André Glucksmann – French philosopher
Yohei Sasakawa – Japanese philanthropist
El Hassan Bin Talal – president of the Arab Thought Forum and president emeritus of the World Conference of Religions for Peace
Frederik Willem de Klerk – former president of South Africa
Karel Schwarzenberg – foreign minister of the Czech Republic

- Original report from The Guardian: Tibet’s peace of the grave

China State Media Ignores Olympic Torch Ceremony Protest


AFP, Mar. 24, 2008- protest-2

BEIJING (AFP) — Chinese state media on Tuesday ignored the disruption of the Olympic torch-lighting ceremony by anti-China protesters, instead declaring a “perfect start” on the road to the August Beijing Games.

(photo from AFP)

Three men from a media rights group breached tight security around Ancient Olympia in Greece on Monday to unfurl a flag demanding a boycott of the Olympics in a huge embarrassment for both Greece and China.

But state-controlled Chinese newspapers made no mention of the disruption, instead running a slew of stories declaring the ceremony a success.

The China Daily called the ceremony “A perfect start on the road to gold,” and ran stories comparing the reaction by Chinese citizens to the excitement generated when Beijing was awarded the Olympics in 2001.

“Applause and cheers could be heard anywhere a TV was on during the ceremony, and people in shopping malls crowded in front of the counters selling TV sets to watch it,” it said.

Those viewers would not have seen the protest as Chinese state television broadcast the ceremony on a delay, cutting away as the protesters appeared just when China’s top Olympic official was giving a speech……. (more details from AFP: Chinese state media ignores Olympic torch ceremony protest)

Human Rights Demonstrators Mars China Beijing Torch Lighting Ceremony


By Karolos Grohmann, Reuters, Mon Mar 24, 2008-protest-1

ANCIENT OLYMPIA, Greece (Reuters) – Human rights demonstrators breached tight security and tried to hijack the Beijing Olympic torch lighting ceremony and relay in ancient Olympia on Monday.

Just before the torch was lit inside the archaeological site that played host to the Olympics in ancient Greece, three demonstrators managed to break a tight police cordon.

(photo from Reuters)

One of them, carrying a black banner with five interlocked handcuffs in the pattern of the Olympic rings, approached Beijing Games chief Liu Qi during his speech in front of hundreds of officials but was quickly led away by police……. (more details from Reuters)

Boycott China Beijing Olympics, European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering Urges


Reuters, via The Guardian, UK, Mar. 18, 2008-

BERLIN, March 18 (Reuters) – European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering urged politicians to consider boycotting the Beijing Olympic Games to protest against China’s crackdown on demonstrations in Tibet in which dozens may have died.

Politicians who had planned to attend the opening ceremony of the Games in August should reconsider, Poettering told German radio, adding he was not ruling out a wider boycott.

“It is too early to say how things will end up but one should keep all options open,” Poettering said in an interview on Deutschlandfunk radio on Tuesday.

Poettering, a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), attacked China’s response to the monk-led protests in Tibet.

“We cannot agree with what is happening in Tibet. The Chinese must realise that,” said Poettering, adding repression and curbs to freedom of expression must stop if the Olympic Games were to be a success.

“We must send a signal to Beijing,” he said.

Anti-China protests in Lhasa, the biggest in almost two decades, turned ugly on Friday and exiled representatives of Tibet in India have said as many as 80 people died.

China’s premier Wen Jiabao has accused Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, of orchestrating riots, a charge he denies.

The Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959, wants autonomy for Tibet within China but not outright independence.

Merkel, along with other western leaders, has called on Beijing to exercise restraint but has refrained from calling for an outright boycott of the Olympic Games. (Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

- Original report from The Guardian : EU’s Poettering urges political boycott of Olympics

China Is Unfit to Host This Summer’s Olympics: Canada Media


Editorial, of The National Post, Canada, Mar. 18, 2008-

When the Olympic bid committee came calling on Beijing in 2001 — before the Chinese capital was awarded the 2008 games — government workers were sent in advance to cover up the damage pollution had done to the city’s parks by spraying thousands of litres of green food colouring on the smog-stained grass. That should have been a warning: Nothing about China hosting the Olympics was going to be as sanguine as it appeared.

Over the weekend, 80 or more Tibetans died protesting China’s six decades of occupation and repression of their country. In scenes reminiscent of the brutal crackdown against pro-democracy protestors in 1989 in Tiananmen Square, Chinese soldiers surged into crowds of unarmed Tibetans, killing scores as they went.

If it was not obvious before that China was unfit to host this summer’s Olympics, then it should be crystal clear now. The communist nation has failed to live up to its key promises to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that were preconditions to it being awarded the event — namely, that it cease its violent repression of dissent and clean up its water and air. In a perfect world, the IOC would take the games away from Beijing. But since that is an unlikely move for the organization — indeed, it doesn’t even appear as if the IOC will acknowledge that China is in violation of its hosting agreement — then national teams and individual athletes must seriously consider boycotting.

After news of China’s atrocities in Tibet filtered out, IOC president Jacques Rogge told reporters a boycott would be counterproductive. The only people hurt would be “innocent athletes.” Really? It is hard to see how the athletes’ punishment would come close to that suffered by the Tibetans who died seeking more autonomy for their nation, or the others who will surely be arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned by the Chinese government.

Reporters Without Borders calls China “the world’s biggest prison for journalists and cyber-dissidents.” Journalists have been denied access to protest sites, including last weekend’s. Dissidents are kept under close surveillance and forbidden contact with reporters. Members of the spiritual movement Falun Gong are still routinely rounded up and charged with crimes against the state, tortured and executed. Indeed, China executes three times more prisoners annually than the rest of the world combined.

Since the weekend crackdown, the Chinese government has moved to ban YouTube from the nation’s computers. Domestic newspapers, newscasts and internet sites have carried only official government accounts of the protests, while international networks such as CNN and the BBC have been blocked by censors.

The IOC is willing to turn a blind eye to all this, and so too, it seems, is the United Nations. On Monday, the UN Security Council let it be known it would not be meeting to discuss Tibet.

But already, several principled individuals have announced they will boycott the Beijing games. Prince Charles announced in February that he would stay away in sympathy with Tibet. Two weeks ago, Hollywood producer Steven Spielberg resigned his post as special advisor to the hosting committee over China’s support of Sudan’s government, which is perpetrating ethnic cleansing in Darfur. And just last week, Haile Gebrselassie, the world’s best marathoner despite being asthmatic, pulled out because China has done little or nothing to improve its air quality. Mr. Gebrselassie fears the strain of competing in the August heat and a smog haze could ruin his health and career.

At this point, Ottawa need not announce a formal withdrawal by our national teams. But it should let it be known publicly that Canadian athletes are free to exercise their consciences. No athlete should be denied a spot on future teams nor have his or her training funding cut if he or she chooses not to go to Beijing.

In a month or two, if China has done nothing to improve its rights record, then our government can take the next step: pull out, or even suggest to the IOC that it disperse this summer’s events around the world to existing venues that can accommodate them.

In the face of such blatant human rights violations, China’s right to remain as the ’08 Olympic host should not be guaranteed, even at this late date.

- Original report from The National Post

Reporters Without Borders Calls For Boycott of China Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony


Reporters Without Borders, 18 March 2008-

Reporters Without Borders today urged heads of state, heads of government and members of royal families to boycott the 8 August opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games because of the Chinese government’s mounting human rights violations and the glaring lack of freedom in China.

“China has not kept any of the promises it made in 2001 when it was chosen to host these Olympics,” the press freedom organisation said. “Instead, the government is crushing the Tibetan protests and is imposing a news blackout, while Hu Jia, a tireless human rights campaigner, is facing a possible five-year prison sentence at the end of a summary and unfair trial.

“Politicians throughout the world cannot remain silent about this situation. We call on them to voice their disapproval of China’s policies by announcing their intention not to attend the opening of the Olympic Games. Britain’s Prince Charles has already said he will not go to Beijing on 8 August. Others should follow suit.

“Calling for a complete boycott of the Olympic Games is not a good solution. The aim is not to deprive athletes of the world’s biggest sports event or to deprive the public of the spectacle. But it would be outrageous not to firmly demonstrate one’s disagreement with the Chinese government’s policies and not to show solidarity with the thousands of victims of this authoritarian regime.

“The only improvement in press freedom that had been seen was a relaxation in January 2007 of the rules under which foreign journalists are obliged to operate in China. The news blackout on Tibet and the expulsion of foreign reporters who were in the area have swept away what was the only positive measure.

“All those who think Olympics should go hand in hand with respect for human rights are also urged to insist that the International Olympic Committee take a stand,” Reporters Without Borders added. “The IOC is clearly not a political tool but it is the guarantor of the Olympic spirit and it cannot continue to display such passivity in the face of these flagrant violations of a people’s basic rights. Going further down this road would end up signifying a degree of complicity with the Chinese government.”

Around 100 journalists, Internet users and cyber-dissidents are currently imprisoned in China just for expressing their views peacefully. Journalists have been banned from visiting Tibet since 12 March and have been expelled from neighbouring provinces. The crackdown on protests by Tibetans is taking place behind closed doors.

Chinese journalists continue to be subject to the dictates of the Publicity Department (the former Propaganda Department), which imposes censorship on a wide range of subjects. The government and party continue to control news and information and have authoritarian laws to punish violators.

Charges of subversion, disseminating state secrets or spying are often brought against journalists and cyber-dissidents. Self-censorship is the rule in news organisations. Independent Chinese-language media based abroad are blocked, harassed or jammed, preventing the emergence of diversity in news and information.

- Original report from Reporters Without Borders

US Officials Should Shun China’s Beijing Olympic Games: Lawmaker


By Susan Cornwell, Reuters, Mar. 6, 2008-

WASHINGTON, March 6 (Reuters) – U.S. officials should shun the 2008 Olympic games to push China to act to stop violence in Darfur, a U.S. lawmaker said on Thursday, and said he would propose legislation to bar federal funds for such trips.

Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia said unless China changed its policy on the conflict in western Sudan, where some 200,000 people have died, no one in the U.S. government should attend the Beijing games this summer.

“No person in the Bush administration should go to China for the genocide Olympics,” Wolf said at a congressional hearing, using the label for the games popularized by Hollywood actress Mia Farrow and other activists who want Beijing to use its influence with Khartoum to halt bloodshed in Darfur.

“Don’t go,” Wolf implored Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, who was testifying to a House of Representatives committee on the administration’s request for more money for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Don’t have anyone go.”

President George W. Bush plans to attend the Olympics but has said he will express his concern about “a variety of issues” to Chinese officials.

Critics accuse China of abetting violence in Darfur by using its power as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council to stall or dilute attempts to deal with the conflict, and by continuing military ties with the Sudan government.

China says it is playing an important role in bringing peace to Darfur and denies it is fueling the conflict between Khartoum-linked militia and rebel groups.

But campaigners such as the Save Darfur coalition say Chinese weapons sales and oil purchases give Beijing enough clout to get Khartoum to halt atrocities.

Wolf, a Republican and crusader for ending bloodshed in Darfur, said that to go “would be like FDR going to the Olympics with Adolf Hitler in that stadium in 1936.” That was the year Nazi Germany hosted the games in Berlin, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was U.S. president and stayed away……. (more details from Reuters: US officials should shun Beijing games – lawmaker)

Oscar-winning Director Steven Spielberg Boycotts China 2008 Olympics


By Bob Tourtellotte and Paul Eckert, Reuters, Tue Feb 12, 2008-

LOS ANGELES/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Oscar-winning film director Steven Spielberg withdrew on Tuesday as an artistic adviser to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing over China’s policy on the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region.

“I find that my conscience will not allow me to continue business as usual,” Spielberg said in a statement issued on a day when Nobel Peace laureates sent a letter to China’s president urging a change in policies toward its ally Sudan.

“At this point, my time and energy must be spent not on Olympic ceremonies, but on doing all I can to help bring an end to the unspeakable crimes against humanity that continue to be committed in Darfur,” he added.

China is a leading oil customer and supplier of weapons to Sudan and is accused by critics of providing diplomatic cover for Khartoum as it stonewalls international efforts to send peacekeepers into Darfur.

In April, Spielberg wrote a letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao adding his voice to the chorus of people who have protested China’s involvement with the Sudanese government over the crisis in Darfur. At that time, Spielberg had asked to meet with Hu, but the president failed to respond.

In his statement on Tuesday, Spielberg said Sudan’s government shouldered the bulk of responsibility for “these ongoing crimes” in Darfur but said China “should be doing more to end the continuing human suffering there.”

Earlier on Tuesday, nine Nobel Peace Prize laureates — including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Elie Wiesel and Jody Williams — sent a letter to Hu urging China to uphold Olympic ideals by pressing Sudan to stop atrocities in Darfur……. (more details from Reuters: Steven Spielberg quits as adviser to Olympics over Darfur)

Human Rights Torch Arrives in Africa


By Zoe Ackah, Epoch Times Staff, Feb 07, 2008- Members of the Kumasi Metropolitian Assembly Hon. Thomas Sakyi (left), Thomas Mullen (centre), and member of Ghana's Society for the Aged Ebenezer Wilson hold the Human Rights Torch, February 5, 2008 at the Kumasi Centre for National Culture. (Zoe Ackah/The Epoch Times)

KUMASI, Ghana— The Human Rights Torch Relay touched down in Kumasi, Ghana last Tuesday.

Ghana is having a stellar year, celebrating it’s 50th anniversary of independence in 2007, currently heading the African Union, as well as hosting the African Cup of Nation’s which will wrap up February 10.

(photo: Members of the Kumasi Metropolitian Assembly Hon. Thomas Sakyi (left), Thomas Mullen (centre), and member of Ghana’s Society for the Aged Ebenezer Wilson hold the Human Rights Torch, February 5, 2008 at the Kumasi Centre for National Culture. /Zoe Ackah, The Epoch Times)

The Human Rights Torch Relay took place amidst the Cup of Nations festivities, hosted in part by the Kumasi Sports Village, a venue set up as part of the celebrations surrounding the CAN.

The message of the torch relay was broadcast loud and clear: “Se fahodie nni Beiging a Olimpic akansie ho nhia : The Olympics and crimes against humanity cannot coexist in China.”

The HRTR’s Ghana welcome was an all day event, beginning with a march through Adum that ended at the Kumasi’s Centre for National Culture. The march was attended by the King Faisal Football Club, who acted as the Ghanaian athletic torch ambassadors. The Centre for Youth Empowerment and the Christ Power Ministry members held banners and handed out flyers along the parade route.

The torch was received at the Centre for National Culture by Kumasi Metropolitian Assemblymen Hon. Thomas Sakyi and Hon. Thomas Mullen.

When asked about his experience lighting the torch as the representative for Kumasi, Hon. Thomas Sakyi commented, “I was very, very delighted. It was very significant in my lifetime and it will be history in my lifetime. It will be a pleasure for our community to know that an assemblyman from our area has lighted the torch. It will be in the history book, Genesis upon Genesis. That message there must reach the whole world.”

The keynote speech was given by Director of Amnesty International, Ghana, Michael Brigandi. “China is the country that is hosting the Olympic games, and at the same time China is a country which is violating human rights—killing a group of people known as Falun Gong and removing their organs for sale, just as how in Ghana here you can dismantle a car and sell the parts. That is done to human being is this country (China),” said Brigandi.

“…and we are here today … to let the people of China know that what is happening there is not secret. The people of the world, including Ghana, are all aware that the government there is killing people…that is why Amnesty International in conjunction with world renowned human right organizations, like the Human Rights Torch … is campaigning and gathering signatures for the Chinese government, to drive the message home, that China may stop violating the rights or their citizens”

Habib Ali, Director of the Centre for Youth Empowerment (CYE), an Islamic youth group, addressed the audience and the International Olympic Committee, “I am very greatful to be here on behalf of CYE to be part of the fight against the torture of the helpless Falun Gong practitioners, the Uighurs Muslim of Xingjiang in China, and other members of the human family whose rights are still been abused around the world.”

Ali added, “41,500 organs were probably taken from the unwilling Falun Gong practitioners at the very centre where the greatest world sporting event, the Olympics, shall be held this year. In another unfortunate development, the Chinese government is directing a crush down campaign against some 8 million Uighurs Muslims of Xingjiang in China under the shadow of the worldwide campaign against terrorism.

“Chinese policy and law enforcement are denying these Muslims their right of religion as required in Islam. Celebrating religious holidays, studying religious text or showing one’s religion through personal appearance at state institutions are strictly forbidden, even in schools.

“Intensive surveillance machinery is imposed on mosques, and schools are purged of

Ghana Premier League football team King Faisal, including their coach Steven George Polack (fourth from left) before commencing a five-on-five soccer match played during events to welcome the Global Human Rights Torch to Ghana. (Zoe Ackah/The Epoch Times)

religious teachers and students. Clerical duties and what version of the Qur’an should be recited are supervised by the government! This is telling us that the Chinese communist government is unwilling to follow the Olympic charter as it hosts the event.”

After the speeches, members of King Faisal football club and other members of the local sporting community played a mini-gala soccer match……. ( More details from the Epochtimes)

Resolution of City of San Jose Supports Human Rights Torch Relay for China


Human Rights Torch Relay, February 3rd, 2008-Human Rights Torch Relay Resolution-City of San Jose

City of San Jose
Human Rights Commission

Human Rights Torch Relay Resolution

Whereas, The Chinese communist regime has been granted the honor of hosting the 2008 Beijing Olympics with the provision that it improve its treatment of Chinese citizens; and

Whereas, Human rights violations have increased since this honor was granted;

Whereas, The Chinese regime imprisons millions of Falun Gong practitioners, democracy advocates, Christians, labor organizers and other innocent citizens in slave labor camps without trial;

Whereas, The Chinese regime illegally harvests organs for sale without consent from these prisoners of conscience;

Whereas, The Chinese regime continues to attempt to erase the cultures of Tibetans and Muslim Uighurs;

Whereas, The Chinese regime forces women to get abortions, even in the third trimester of pregnancy, to enforce the “Once Child per Family” rule;

Whereas, The Chinese regime is guilty of murdering more of its citizens than Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot combined;

Whereas, The Olympic Charter calls for the Games to represent “respect for universal fundamental ethical principles … the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity …Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement”; and

Whereas, The CIPFG Human Torch Relay is dedicated to righting these wrongs, ending human rights abuses in China, and preserving the Olympic spirit;

Now, Therefore, San Jose Human Rights Commission hereby supports the aims and intentions of the

Human Rights Torch Relay

and invite all of our citizens to support this effort, and help stop human rights violations in China.

Ayes: 8
Noes: 0
Abstained: 0

Date: November 15, 2007

- Original report from Human Torch Relay website

Humna Rights Torch Relay to Enter China In The Spring of 2008


Press release, CIPFG, Jan. 1, 2008-

As part of its ongoing efforts to end the Chinese government’s brutal treatment of Falun Gong practitioners, the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (CIPFG) has begun a campaign to secure one million signatures on a worldwide anti-persecution petition. The signatures will be gathered ahead of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and will be presented to the International Olympics Committee, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, international human rights organizations, and various governments and parliaments around the world.

The global anti-persecution petitions will demand that the Chinese Communist regime immediately stop its persecution of Falun Gong, unconditionally release all Falun Gong practitioners in detention, and end suppression of righteous individuals who support Falun Gong, such as human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng.

Since CIPFG was established in 2006, it has continuously exposed, on an international level, the Chinese Communist dictatorship’s contravention of various international human rights conventions – such as the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – and its severe lack of respect for human dignity. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has ruthlessly persecuted and deprived the Chinese people of their fundamental rights, including freedom of speech, freedom of press, and freedom of belief. Despite promises the CCP made when awarded the 2008 Olympics, these violations have not improved in the least, but instead have worsened.

Throughout the last eight years, the CCP has committed chilling crimes against Falun Gong practitioners throughout Mainland China, including unscrupulous arrests; sentencing practitioners to forced labor camps; torture; murder; and organ harvesting from living practitioners. The persecution of Falun Gong is the most severe human rights disaster in China today.

In response to urgent requests from Mainland Chinese, the Human Rights Torch Relay (HRTR) flame will enter China in the spring of 2008. HRTR will then relay throughout China, which means there will be two Human Rights Torches relaying around the world simultaneously. This will allow the Chinese people who participate in this endeavor to voice their heartfelt calls for support to the international community.

The Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong invites people of good will around the world to join us in bringing an end to the ongoing persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China. For information about how you can help, please contact http://www.cipfg.org

- Original report from the Human Rights Torch Relay (HRTR) website

Human Rights Torch First to See Sun in 2008


By Sarah Matheson, Epoch Times Staff in Gisborne, Jan 01, 2008-Gisborne District Councilor Andy Hall receives the Human Rights Torch for Gisborne on Monday.

The Human Rights Torch has come to the end of its journey in New Zealand, ushering in the New Year in style in Gisborne – the first city in the world to see the sun.

The Torch arrived in New Zealand on December 16 and travelled from Auckland to the Bluff, even travelling up the country’s highest mountain, Aoraki/Mt Cook.

Gisborne District Councilor Andy Hall received the torch on behalf of Gisborne (photo at right). He thanked the organizers for the opportunity to stand up for human rights and freedom.

“We are standing up for those who don’t have the ability to stand up tall in their own country,” he said.

Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (CIPFG) member, and Auckland barrister, Kerry Gore said the human rights abuses perpetrated by the Chinese regime extend outside of China to other countries.

Burmese democracy advocate Naing Koko said the Chinese Communist Party continues to affect countries like Burma, Thailand, North Korea, Sudan and Zimbabwe.

“While people are celebrating the New Year we should not forget about the people suffering in the third world, particularly China,” he said.

He was particularly concerned about the persecution of Falun Gong.

Gisborne Christian Kahan Payne said he could not support the Olympics being held in China when so many human rights abuses happen there.

“There are many, many thousands of Christians in China being persecuted and robbed of their humanity, their organs being taken,” he said.

Waka Toa director Paku Kingi said she hopes the Human Rights Torch will encourage the Chinese regime to improve its human rights record.

“We hope that this will bring about some changes that have been promised to the people of China.”

Musician Cherry Gemstone played Ring of Fire and Diamond in the Rough for the crowd of about 200 people at the ceremony.

“There shouldn’t be an Olympic Games in a place where they are killing people like they are in China, it’s just so wrong.

“Killing is not a sport,” she said.

The torch started its global tour in Athens, Greece on August 9, one year out from the Beijing Olympics. It was launched by the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong to highlight human rights abuses in China, and particularly the organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners.

The Torch now heads to Africa via Los Angeles.

- Original report from The Epochtimes

Chinese Writer Arrested For Criticising Beijing Olympics


Reporters Without Borders, 18 December 2007-
Reporters Without Borders calls for the immediate release of dissident writer Wang Dejia, who was arrested at his home in Guilin, in the southern province of Guangxi, on 13 December and was charged with “subverting state authority.” He uses the pen-name of Jing Chu.

“Eight months before the Beijing Olympic Games, it is very worrying to learn of the arrest of another writer who had criticised the way the games are being organised,” the press freedom organisation said. “It suggests that there could be an increase in repression of Chinese who dare to voice reserves about the games, either online or to foreign journalists.”

Wang was arrested when police came and searched his home in the Quanzhou Chengbei district of Guilin on the afternoon of 13 December, removing articles, books and his computer. His family said he was accused of defamation and was taken to the Quanzhou Chengbei police station in the early evening. Later that night, the family learned that he had been charged with “inciting subversion of state authority.”

His brother and his cousin went to the police station where he had been taken, but were not allowed to see him.

His arrest could be linked to articles he had written and posted on the Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum http://asiademo.org/) and the Aboluowang forum. They carry such headlines as “Illegal possession of state secrets: a Communist Party invention for persecuting prisoners of conscience”, “Manacled Olympic Games will bring the public nothing but misfortune” and “With journalist Li Yuanlong sentenced to two years for four articles, how much will I get?”.

Wang met US embassy representatives in October to discuss the human rights situation. His family thinks his arrest is linked to both the meeting and his articles.

- Original report

The Mayor, a Town in Australia and The Human Rights Torch for China


By Philippa Rayment, Epoch Times Melbourne Staff, Australia, Nov 27, 2007-

Portland is a vital deep water port yet manages to preserve its harmony with nature. Since its beginning, it has always been a place where industry and natural beauty coexist. This week it opened up its heart and stepped forward to stand up for human rights in China when it welcomed the Global Human Rights Torch Relay.

The wind was blowing straight off the Southern Ocean as Mayor of Portland, Councillor Gilbert Wilson, along with the Global Human Rights Torch Relay team, boarded the town’s vintage tram to make a symbolic journey of welcome.

In spite of the wind, the Torch burned unfaltering during its visit to this town, which is the oldest European settlement in Victoria.

On the steps of the Portland council offices, Councillor Wilson, resplendent in his mayoral robes, officially welcomed the Torch.

“I think it hugely important for the community to send a strong message back to the Chinese [regime] and to tell them what they are doing is not right,” Councillor Wilson said.

“Human rights should be upheld for everybody no matter how high or low we are in human society, from the poor who are usually downtrodden to the wealthy. We should all enjoy equal rights,” he said.

Councillor Wilson said it’s important to speak up for others’ human rights because “we enjoy a very good country with freedom of speech and freedom of owning property.”

“The Games should be about the participation, joy of all nations,” he said. “I find it very, very disturbing that it is going to be painful for a lot of people in China that have just been tossed aside [in preparation for the Olympic Games].”

Rikki Nicholson, a Portland resident at the Torch welcoming ceremony, said he thought the mayor made a good speech.

“It is good, we shouldn’t be scared of speaking out as we can still do business with people. The Chinese people need to be supported in their wish for freedom from destruction. My great, great grandfather was Chinese in the Gold Rush days in Bendigo and my great grandmother was half Chinese. My family and I put on the T-shirts ‘The Olympics and crimes against humanity cannot coexist’ and we were proud to wear them through the town.”

The relay is traversing 37 countries and hundreds of cities around the world seeking to bring an end to all human rights abuses fuelled by the Chinese regime.

Mayor Wilson is a descendant of an Irish family who came to Portland in 1856 and is well versed in local affairs and passionate about his town.

“My father was on the Portland City Council for 27 years so as a young boy I grew up with local government,” he said.

He is a bricklayer by trade, but works for a local manufacturer of wind towers and manages to juggle his mayoral duties with his work.

Speaking about the future, Mayor Gilbert says it is very bright for Portland. There will be about 1000 new jobs in the blue gum industry to harvest the wood chips. “We are pro-industry, but keep in mind our heritage and the environment – we are very keen to keep those two aspects,” he said.

And to prove the point, the modern council building and the heritage town hall sit happily side by side.

- Original report from The Epochtimes: The Mayor, a Town and The Torch

Australia: Human Rights Torch Relay Arrives in Sydney


News.com.au, Australia, October 27, 2007-

A TORCH relay aimed at pressuring China on human rights ahead of the Beijing Olympics has arrived in Australia.

The year-long Global Human Rights Torch Relay will visit 100 cities on five continents before the 2008 Games, in a campaign which calls for an end to China’s human rights violations.

The relay started in Athens, where the torch was lit on August 9, before travelling through Europe and the UK and arriving in Sydney at 10am (AEST) today.

It will travel around Australia over the next two months, before continuing its world tour in Africa.

In Sydney, the torch was welcomed by a couple of hundred people with a ceremony at Town Hall.

Dr Sev Ozdowski, Australia’s human rights commissioner from 2000 to 2005, said the torch relay was a reminder the Olympic spirit had long been linked to human rights, civil liberty and peace.

He highlighted China’s persecution of journalists, human rights activists and Falun Gong practitioners and its actions in Tibet.

“The human rights torch relay is about people’s power,” he said at the welcoming ceremony.

“Not that long ago people power crumbled the Berlin Wall and brought an end to the Soviet empire.

“So let us ensure that the Olympics and crimes against humanity cannot co-exist together in China.”

Greens Senator Kerry Nettle was the first person to run with the torch on its way through Sydney.

She said Australia needed to use its strong trade relationship with China to send a strong message about humam rights abuses.

“It’s a message with the Olympic spirit of people working together,” Senator Nettle said.

“It’s a message the Chinese government needs to hear loud and clear.”

After the ceremony, a series of runners then took the torch down George Street to First Fleet Park at Circular Quay.

It was taken to the Opera House before being ferried across Sydney Harbour to Manly on a yacht.

The torch relay will now head to Brisbane, arriving on November 3.

- Original report from News.com.au : Human rights torch relay arrives in Australia