(Clearwisdom.net) On April 13, the Human Rights Torch Relay arrived in New York City. A number of rights groups took part in a rally at Union Square to welcome the torch and highlight the atrocities of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). State representatives and city legislators, rights activists, scholars and artists gave speeches at the rally to call for action to stop the CCP atrocities and end the persecution of Falun Gong.

State Assemblymember Hakeem Jeffries: We can't ignore human rights atrocities

New York City Councilman David Adams: We support human rights and condemn persecution

Falun Dafa Information Center spokesman Levi Browde: The CCP is escalating the persecution of Falun Gong prior to the Olympic Games

Canadian Human Rights lawyer David Matas: Organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners is a widespread phenomenon in China

Among the many activists who greeted the human rights torch at Central Park in the morning, was New York State Senator Eric Adams. He told the crowd that the CCP has always persecuted innocent civilians and said that Americans cannot ignore such brutal persecution.

New York Assemblyman Jefferies added that he and Senator Adams were drafting a bill which will request New York not to invest in countries with poor human rights records. The legislator said that people can't ignore ongoing human rights abuses and it would be a shame if people turn a blind eye to human rights atrocities in China.

New York City Councilman David Yassky added that every American has the responsibility to support human rights and condemn persecution.

Falun Dafa Information Center spokesman Levi Browde pointed out that the CCP has escalated the persecution of Falun Gong prior to the Olympic Games. Browde said, "In 2005, Deputy Minister of Public Security Liu Jing stated that Falun Gong practitioners must be excluded from the Games. Recently, in preparation for the Games, the CCP has arrested many Falun Gong practitioners. Our center has received concrete evidence that some practitioners were tortured to death shortly after they were arrested. We appeal to the international community to take immediate action to end such atrocities."

Browde highlighted the death of Beijing musician Yu Zhou. "On January 26, Yu Zhou drove back home with his wife after a performance. The couple were stopped and unlawfully sent to Tongzhou Detention Center by policemen. Eleven days later, Yu died in the detention center and his wife is still in custody."

At the rally, renowned human rights lawyer David Matas told the crowd about the progress of investigations into allegations of CCP organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners. In July 2006, Matas and David Kilgour published the first report of their investigation, in which they confirmed the allegations based on 19 types of evidence. To date, Matas said that they had collected more than 50 types of evidence. While any of the evidence alone cannot definitely prove that these atrocities are happening in China, Matas said that the combination of all of them firmly indicated that organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners is a widespread practice in China.

Besides brutally persecuting Falun Gong practitioners, many other groups have also been victims of the CCP's brutality. At the rally, Penelope Beaseley spoke out on behalf of Chinese Christians. She said that the CCP tightly controls government-recognized churches and persecutes so-called underground churches. According to Beasley, about 35,000 Chinese Christians are still in custody.

Dr. Damon Noto of Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting and Charles Lee, an American practitioner who was unlawfully detained by the CCP for 3 years, also spoke at the rally to condemn organ harvesting atrocities and testify to the brutal persecution of practitioners in China.

On April 16, New York State Senators passed a resolution to welcome and support the Human Rights Torch. A series of activities will be held in Albany, New York City, and Westchester County to remind the public that the Olympic Games and crimes against humanity cannot coexist in China.