The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia): Human rights protest relay hits Brisbane

November 3, 2007 - 5:55PM

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 persecution.

"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 of expression."

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 Gold Coast.

It will then move to Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth before culminating in Canberra on December 11.

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Nov 04,2007
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