Saturday, April 5, 2008

Global Human RIghts Torch Relay

The Global Human Rights Torch Relay made its appearance in San Fran today. It was received in Union Square amid a riot of cololurful balloons, flags, banners and slogan tee-shirted people protesting over China's abuses and the Olympic Games.

The event, from mid-morning to mid-afternoon, had a festive appearance despite the seriousness of the campaign and at times harrowing testimony of China's actions.

A young female from Falun Gong and a Tibetan spoke movingly of their imprisonment and torture, and former Olympians including John Carlos of the 'black power salute' of 1968, politicians and campaigners gave voice to criticisms of China.

The Torch was received by city Supervisor Chris Daly, on behalf of the Board of Supervisors. He has been responsible for the resolution that the Olympic Torch be officially received with 'alarm and protest.'

He said the Global Human Rights Torch exhibited the principles of San Francisco.

'San Franciscans are not about abuses,' he said. 'We will respond with alarm and protest.'

He added, 'I think I speak for most San Franciscans that we would rather not respond with alarm and protest...we would rather there had not been a brutal crackdown...not been persecutions of the Falun Gong practitioners...we would rather there be a free press...for students to have the ability to democratically participate...we won't support genocide in Darfur...'

Throughout the rally the statistics were horrifying: from the days of Mao...the deaths of 77 million Chinese and 1.2 million Tibetans, 100 labour camps used against the people of Falun Gong, the genocide of Darfur and the harsh regime of Burma.

There were also criticisms of corporate America and the government turning a blind eye for profit. Mention was made of sweatshops providing cheap goods for American companies.

Mixed in with the horror and, for some, the desire that China had never been awarded the Games, was the repeated assertion that criticisms were against the Chinese government and not the people.

Also, were the statements that the protesters were not campaigning against the athletes. Their call was for a boycott of the Opening Ceremony but not the Games themselves.

A more detailed report will be posted soon with more pics.

Click here for the first album. Click to enlarge.

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