The Torch's Journey Through Regional Australia


By Shar Adams
Epoch Times Brisbane Staff
Dec 04, 2007

Documentary filmmaker David Bradbury (L) carries the Human Rights Torch in Byron Bay. (The Epoch Times)
Documentary filmmaker David Bradbury (L) carries the Human Rights Torch in Byron Bay. (The Epoch Times)

Award winning documentary filmmaker David Bradbury has lent his support to a global initiative aimed at bringing human rights to China before the Olympics next year.

The winner of five Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards, Mr Bradbury was a Torch bearer on the New South Wales leg of the global Human Rights Torch Relay in the famous beach resort town of Byron Bay, last weekend.

Mr Bradbury, who is also the recipient of two Academy Award nominations, (one for Frontline, which profiled Australian war cameraman Neil Davis and the other for Chile: Hasta Cuando? on the brutal military dictatorship of General Pinochet) said it was crucial the West speak out to support human rights progress in China.

"It is incredibly important for the world and all those of us who love peace and respect for human rights to support those people in China that are paying a big price for speaking out," Mr Bradbury told The Epoch Times.

"We need to let the people in China know that we haven't forgotten them and we need…governments to put pressure on the [Chinese] Government to live up to their commitment to respect the human rights of its people leading up to the Beijing Olympics."

The Human Rights Torch Relay was initiated by an international coalition, the CIPFG, which came together over reports of forced organ harvesting and killing of Falun Gong practitioners in China.

New South Wales Greens MP, Ian Cohen said he had spoken to a number of groups and individuals who had raised concerns with him about this issue including Canadian authors of a report on the organ harvesting, Hon David Kilgour and David Matas.

"There is no doubt in mind that the accusations against the Chinese Government regarding organ harvesting, regarding political prisoners, regarding summary executions are accurate," Mr Cohen told the crowd assembled at Railway Park in Byron Bay.

Pointing to the recent Australian Federal elections, Mr Cohen said Australians were extremely fortunate to enjoy cultural, spiritual and political freedoms that were largely unheard of in China.

"The political change through the ballot box a few weeks ago in Australia is utterly and completely denied the people of China," he said.

"Even the major human rights lawyer in China, Mr Gao, is locked away for speaking up for the basic tenets of human rights. Their rights are non-existent," he said. "And it is up to externals for those repressed in the so called Peoples Republic of China to help those people, and we can take a very significant role."

World Champion Surfer Pauline Menczer (far right) carried the torch through the streets of Byron Bay, along with Greens MP Ian Cohen (far left) and representatives from the local indigenous community. (The Epoch Times)
World Champion Surfer Pauline Menczer (far right) carried the torch through the streets of Byron Bay, along with Greens MP Ian Cohen (far left) and representatives from the local indigenous community. (The Epoch Times)

The Torch Relay event saw significant support from the local Shire Council, with councillors, Jan Mangleson, Peter Westheimer and Tom Tabbart speaking on the day, and many others including the Byron Mayor Jan Barham, sending statements of support.

The Byron Bay event marks the beginning of the Torch's regional NSW tour and the end of its journey through Victoria, where it took in over 50 suburbs and regional towns.

The Torch in Victoria

Australian Ambassador for the Torch – Olympian Jan Becker – said she was happy with the reception the torch had received throughout her home state.

"There were a lot of MPs, councillors, mayors, church leaders, lawyers who spoke," Ms Becker told The Epoch Times, "even people yelling out 'good on you' and 'We support you.'"

Ms Becker said she spoke at all of the events in Victoria and believed the consistent support, not only from community leaders, but also local media indicated the level of concern in the community about China holding the Olympics.

"People are not comfortable about what is going on in China," she said. "They are not comfortable about a whole range of human rights issues including organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners, the torture and killing of Christians, the recent killing of monks in Burma and China's involvement in the genocide in Sudan."

The Human Rights Torch was launched in Athens in August to coincide with a one year countdown to the Olympics. It has already travelled through major cities in Europe arriving in Australia early November. It will continue to travel through regional New South Wales during December and will include Wollongong December 5, Bowral and Goulburn December 12, and Newcastle and the Entrance December 15.

There will also be events in Western Australia and the Australia Capital Territory with a Torch relay in Fremantle December 8 and Perth December 9, and then Canberra December 11.


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