Demonstrators outside the State Fountain Bakery Saturday were seeking to raise awareness about human rights crimes in China prior to the 2008 Olympic Games set in Beijing.

Concerned demonstrators from Mississippi, Tennessee, and Alabama staged the awareness day as a precursor to the Global Human Rights Torch Relay that is currently making its way around the world to draw attention to China's declining human rights and urge changes before the 2008 Olympics.

The torch relay began with its first flame in Athens, Greece, on August 9 and will arrive in the United States in 2008. The relay is organized by the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong in China.

Their message states: "The Olympics and crimes against humanity cannot coexist in China."

The basic principles of the Olympics, including peace and fundamental ethics, are not compatible with the current conditions in China, the CIPFG asserts.

The Taiwanese Student Association sponsored the human rights awareness event Saturday on the Mississippi State University campus.

Chyi-Hong Lin, a 25-year resident of Starkville, said he came out to raise awareness in part because he and his wife, Yueer Lin, are practitioners of Falun Gong.

Falun Gong is a traditional Chinese practice using exercises as well as focusing on following the principles of Truth, Compassion and Tolerance.

Millions of Falun Gong practitioners in China are currently persecuted, imprisoned, and even killed for practicing it, states information from the CIPFG.

Chyi-Hong Lin said his wife began practicing Falun Gong about a year after she was in a car accident that left her with a compressed disc.

Though doctors and pain medication could not relieve her debilitating pain, within months of practicing Falun Gong she fully recovered.

"In five months she fully recovered and didn't take any pills," Lin said.

Lin also began Falun Gong, and it has since helped his hay fever, he said. Lin thinks that the Communist Party in China feels threatened by the large number of Falun Gong practitioners.

Another human rights crime currently occurring in China, according to the CIPFG, is the harvesting of human organs for profit from unwilling donors, specifically from Falun Gong practitioners.

The donors are alive at the time of harvest, according to the CIPFG.

"That's really why we're trying to bring this information to the people, to let them know," Lin said.

"This is terrible, because how can you harvest people's organs, how can you do that?" he asked.

The torch relay serves as a method to raise awareness about the human rights crimes in China and to urge China to correct its human rights policies before the 2008 Olympics.

"It's totally against the spirit of the Olympic games, and they're holding them there next year, and it's totally wrong," Lin said.

In a letter sent from the CIPFG to the president and prime minister of China, the CIPFG states that human rights have declined overall in China since 2001 when it was announced that the 2008 Olympics would be held in Beijing.

Lin also made the point that he and the other demonstrators were not against the Chinese people, but, rather, against the Communist government. and its practices.

Another demonstrator, Wade Young, originally of mainland China and now a professor in Alabama, said he wants to raise awareness because his own mother was imprisoned for practicing Falun Gong.

"Because of practicing Falun Gong she got put into jail for two years," he said.

When released from prison, Young's mother found asylum in Canada.

Young left China in 1990 to pursue a doctorate in Canada and has practiced Falun Gong since 1996.

Though China has previously disputed any organ harvesting from live Falun Gong practitioners, Young said this year the Chinese government caved slightly under international pressure and now says they have taken organs from prisoners sentenced to death.

Yin and Young both made the point that they and others are not protesting the Chinese people but the Communist government.

"Chinese people, we love the country of China," Young said, but continued to say that the Communist government has committed many atrocities.

"If China stops any crimes against humanity, we will support the Olympics because that is good for Chinese people and the world," Young said. But, Young noted that China must change the current conditions in the country.

Younger demonstrators agreed that the human rights violations should not continue in China. "I don't think it's right," said Ashley Wei, 13, who helped raise awareness Saturday by holding a banner. "It's really disturbing, it's really against human rights."

For more information on the Global Human Right Torch Relay, visit http://www.