Andrew Bartlett from the Australian Democrats, who is also a member of
the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong, addresses
the Human Rights Torch Relay welcoming ceremony in Brisbane. (The Epoch
People living in China
were expected to closely follow Saturday Global Human Rights Torch
Relay as it wound its way through Brisbane to highlight abuse in their
country ahead of the Beijing Olympics.
The relay started in Athens, where the torch was lit on August
9, and travelled through Europe and the UK before its arrival in Sydney
late last month.
It will travel around Australia over the next two months, before heading to Africa on the next leg of its world tour.
The campaign was established to raise awareness of human rights
violations in China, particularly the persecution of Falun Gong
practitioners and human organ harvesting, and will conclude in Beijing
ahead of next year's Olympic Games.
Brisbane organiser Shar Adams said the relay, attended by
several hundred people, gave symbolic voice to millions of people in
China who are unable to speak out against abuse for fear of
"This torch is a voice for Chinese people, this protest relay would not be able to occur in China," Ms Adams told AAP.
"It is so important that we articulate what they can't.
"There needs to be fundamental change. People need to be able
to voice their beliefs and express themselves, we need to have freedom
Christy Mena lights the Torch in Brisbane. (The Epoch Times)
Ms Adams said Saturday's relay would be watched in China through a delayed television broadcast and a live radio broadcast.
"We have had feedback from Chinese people that they are following this torch all around the world," she said.
"They are going to the websites, they are listening to the radio reports ... to follow what is happening."
Political dissident Pan Qing, a spokesman for the Chinese
Alignment to Protect Human Rights and Resist Violence and who travelled
with the relay through Europe, said the campaign was essential.
"It is very, very important for the people," Mr Qing said through an interpreter.
"They see the news on the internet and also on the radio every day.
"They are very touched at all the support they are seeing. They see it as the hope for Chinese to get freedom in the future."
The relay will move to the Sunshine Coast on Sunday, before
heading up the Queensland coast to Mackay, Townsville, Cairns and the
It will then move to Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth before culminating in Canberra on December 11.