Australia: Human Rights Torch Relay Arrives in Queensland--Various Leaders and Groups Condemn the CCP's Crimes of Live Organ Harvesting (Photos)
(Clearwisdom.net) The Global Human Rights Torch Relay initiated by the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (CIPFG) arrived in Queensland, Australia in early November 2007. The Torch Relay first reached Toowoomba and Brisbane, followed by five other major cities of Queensland. The human rights torch was well received by the Australian public. Supporters condemned the crime of organ harvesting of living Falun Gong practitioners committed by the Chinese Communist regime.
On November 4, the Human Rights Torch passed through four major regions of the Sunshine Coast, which included Caloundra, Mooloolaba, Coolum and Noosa.
Mayor of the Maroochy Shire Joe Natoli said in his speech that the peaceful practice of Falun Gong is being persecuted, and there is a lot of evidence that points to the crimes of organ harvesting taking place in China. Mr. Natoli said that it is a terrible shame that such a thing is happening in today's society. He reminded the audience not to forget the lessons from the past, and not to repeat the history which led to WWII following the Berlin Olympics. He called for people to stand up against the brutal dictatorship of the CCP, and set a moral example for generations to come.
Member of the CIPFG Senator Andrew Bartlett said that with the knowledge that such a large scale persecution of human rights is currently taking place, anyone with a conscience would be unable to support the Olympics hosted by the CCP, because the Olympic Games is a celebration of respect for human rights and freedom. For this reason, he says every person has a responsibility to stand up and condemn the CCP's brutal crimes.
Federal MP Peter Slipper and other government representatives affirmed the universal values represented by the Human Rights Torch.
MP Steve Dickson said that he received a letter from the Chinese Consulate that asked him not to support the Human Rights Torch Relay, and he felt very disappointed at the Chinese government. He also congratulated organizers of the activities, and said, "I look forward to a bright future, and congratulate the people for what you are doing today. If there is anything our country can do, I am sure we are going to do it, because we believe in peace, freedom and democracy."
A representative for the Australian Greens, Katherine Webb, said that the Australian government has a responsibility to make an effort to improve the human rights situation in China.
At approximately 5 p.m. on the afternoon of November 8, the Human Rights Torch arrived in the city of Mackay, Queensland and was enthusiastically welcomed by government representatives and the public.
Mackay Councillor George Christensen welcomed the torch, which had arrived from the Sunshine Coast, on behalf of the Mayor and people of Mackay. This was followed by a Human Rights Torch Relay activity and rally in Mackay's city centre. Speakers at the events included Councillor Christensen, Councillor Alison Jones, and world champion weightlifter Katrina Robertson.
In his speech, Councillor Christensen said that the Global Human Rights Torch Relay is a ray of hope for Chinese people today. He said that the tyrannical dictatorship of the CCP, in using brutality to protect its own power of rule, has completely turned against the values of the Olympics such as peace, democracy, and freedom. Mr. Christensen also said that the CCP's persecution of Falun Gong is completely unjustifiable and wrong. He then introduced to the audience the publication entitled, "Report on the Allegations of Organ Harvesting on Falun Gong Practitioners in China."
World Super Heavyweight Powerlifting Champion Katrina Robertson said that sports and human rights are the two most important issues in her life, and she has never missed the television broadcast of the Olympic Games. However, because of the CCP's extreme abuses of human rights, Robertson firmly stated that she would not support or watch the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
The event was brought to an end with a candlelight vigil to remember the 80 million Chinese people who were persecuted to death by the CCP or died unnatural deaths as a result of the CCP's rule.
The Human Rights Torch Relay reached the fifth stop in Queensland, the city of Townsville, on November 9.
The Human Rights Torch Relay began in ANZAC Memorial, and was passed through the hands of human rights ambassadors and the general public to Stra Park, where the torch was officially welcomed to the city of Townsville.
Greens Senator Anja Light and event organizer Ms. Adams addressed the audience at the ceremony. Townsville was the hometown of former president of the United Nations Association of Australia, Margaret Reynolds, who sent a special statement in support of the event.
In the statement, Mrs. Reynolds wrote, "I totally support your efforts to highlight human rights abuses as the global community needs strong voices to insist that
governments recognise their responsibility to protect people's rights as citizens." She also pointed out, "...there is an urgent need to focus on human rights standards if the Olympic spirit is to be protected."
A number of groups such as Amnesty International from James Cook University also attended the Human Rights Torch events.
At 9 a.m. on November 10, the Human Rights Torch arrived in Queensland's world renowned tourist city of Cairns.
Nine local human rights ambassadors began the relay in Muddies Playground. The relay passed landmarks such as the WWII memorial, and a memorial which was built when Mackay received the Olympic Torch in 1956, before it reached the main venue for the welcome ceremony, Fogarty Park.
Upon the arrival of the Human Rights Torch, a group of aboriginal youths performed a welcome dance for the Torch. This was followed by speeches from the following VIPs: former Olympian Christine Doan, President of the Cape York Institute, Noel Pearson, Bishop James Foley, South African representative Alfred Conteh, Greens Representative Sue Corey, Cairns human rights lawyer Rohan Silva, and Burmese Representative Robert Win-Bob.
1992 Barcelona Olympian and Equestrian Christine Doan said to event attendees, "I believe the Olympic charter and human rights abuses cannot co-exist; there is a logical contradiction."
Representative from the legal community Rohan Silver pointed out the vast difference between the treatment of lawyers in Australia and China. He referred to renowned human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who was imprisoned just for reporting the truth about the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners to the CCP leaders. Mr. Silva said, "Communist China does not respect human rights at the present time, it has a deplorable human rights record."
Mr. Robert Win-Bob of the Burmese community said, "I cannot agree with the brutal crimes of organ harvesting committed by the Chinese Communists. This is why I came to this event today, nobody should harvest the organs of another person. People have their own beliefs, how can others slaughter them at their own will!"
Local resident Claire said, "I think it is a great vehicle for advertising and helping the world be informed about what is really happening in China, which I think is very important. I absolutely agree with what they are doing today."
Australia's Gold Coast received the arrival of the Human Rights Torch with a warm ceremony on the afternoon of November 10, 2007. Gold Coast Mayor Ron W. Clarke hosted the Human Rights Torch Relay ceremony at Eileen Peters Park. A rally was also held at the famous Surfer's Paradise Beach.
Mayor Ron Clarke lit the torch and said that he was honored to participate in the Human Rights Torch Relay. He warmly welcomed the Human Rights Torch to the Gold Coast. Mr. Clarke was an Olympian in medium and long distance running in the 1960s. He broke the worlds record 17 times, and won the bronze medal in the 10,000 meter long-distance running competition at the Summer Olympics in 1964.
Member of Burleigh Christine Smith said that among all human rights issues around the world, she is most concerned about allegations of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) harvesting organs from living Falun Gong practitioners. She urged the CCP regime to open its doors to allow unrestricted investigation of all forced labor camps, hospitals, mental hospitals and related facilities. She said, "My grandchildren at sometime in the future will ask me, did I know about abuse of human rights, and what did I do? I don't want to tell them that I did nothing. The only thing that's necessary for the triumph of evil, is for the good people to do nothing. Human rights abuses in any countries are not acceptable." She stated that the evil exists because good people remain silent. Human rights abuses taking place in any country is intolerable. As a member of the CIPFG (the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong), she hopes to go to China to conduct an investigation of this shocking and alarming atrocity.
Lawyer Mike Arcuri said that he was proud to carry the sacred human rights torch. He also highly praised Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng for his sense of justice and courage. He said, "I've known something about Gao Zhisheng. He is a noble man, he is also very brave. He stands up for the conscience of the Chinese people." Mr. Arcuri stated that the Human Rights Torch Relay will help the whole world pay attention to the poor human rights conditions in China, so as to stop the CCP from persecuting Falun Gong.
City Councillor Dawn Crichlow stated that the Olympics is based on respect for human rights, but the CCP has no regard for human rights. She stated that the CCP indeed has not abided by the second section of the Olympic Charter. A number of people will be prohibited from participating in the 2008 Olympics, such as Falun Gong practitioners. They have been told they will not be allowed to participate in the Olympics. Crichlow said, "Now this is not the true Olympic spirit, and so that's why I support this Global Human Rights Torch Relay." She also stated that Australia respects freedom of speech and belief, and opposes the CCP's atrocities. She said, "I believe we're going to be strong, and show the Chinese that we won't allow this sort of thing." She ended her speech by wishing that the Human Rights Torch, a symbol of hope, will smoothly pass on to China after traveling around the world.
Deputy Chairman of the IMGC (International Martial Arts Games Committee), Bill Wakefield said, "Organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners is not a fictional story my dear friends, it is a horrifying fact, and is time for people to stand up, voice their opinions. The Chinese Communist Party's persecution of Falun Gong practitioners is the most evil thing in the world, and we are here today to make the statement to the world that this cannot be tolerated."
A representative of GECKO said, "We stand with the practitioners of Falun Gong, in support of human rights. We believe the abuse of people in another part of the world is abuse of humanity as a whole"
A representative from Amnesty International said that they have shown great concern over the CCP's human rights abuses and its persecution of the Falun Gong group, and in particular the organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners. They are greatly worried about the China's human rights abuses, so they strongly support the Human Rights Torch Relay.
A university student who came to take part in the activity said that he supported the Human Rights Torch Relay, and hoped the relay can cause China to improve its human rights conditions.
The Human Rights Torch Relay activities came to a smooth end in the solemn and just atmosphere. The relay traveled through nine stations along the 3.5 km route, attracting numerous local citizens and tourists. Speakers at the activities condemned the CCP's persecution of Falun Gong and human rights abuses, and expressed their sincere support for Falun Gong.
The Human Rights Torch Relay has concluded its trip to Queensland, and will continue on to the Northern Territories, Southern Australia, Western Australia, and other provinces.