Ms. Baroness Caroline Cox, Member of the House of Lords in the UK, sent a statement to be read at the Human Rights Torch Relay ceremony held on August 18th 2007, to show her support for the event and to protest the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)'s persecution of Falun Gong. Following is the full content of her letter:
"Today is a highly significant day for all concerned with justice, freedom and human rights as we launch the International Human Rights Torch here in Athens.
"It was in Greece where the very first Ancient and Modern Olympic Games were held as a symbol of peace and cooperation between nations. By relaying the torch across all five continents, we hope to bring the plight of Falun Gong practitioners in China to the attention of the world, and to show to the Chinese government that the Olympic Games cannot coexist with the torture and murder of a large number of innocent Chinese citizens.
"We are deeply concerned by reports that the Chinese authorities have so far murdered at least 3,000 practitioners since the persecution began and that they have been implicated in the widespread practice of organ-harvesting from live prisoners, which has been condemned by governments and human rights organizations alike.
"However, we believe it is time for the world to take a much stronger position toward the Chinese government. We are now calling for a boycott of the 2008 Beijing Olympics by all right-minded nations, unless China changes its stance on Falun Gong and stops the torture and genocide immediately. This appears to be the only way in which we can gain any leverage with the Chinese government on the issue of their appalling human rights record. The threat of negative worldwide publicity surrounding the Games, probably the most lucrative economic and political event in China's history, may make the Chinese government shift its stance on Falun Gong and once again allow practitioners to practice their belief freely, without fear of reprisal, which they were allowed to do before the persecution ordered by former President Jiang Zemin began in 1999.
"The Chinese constitution officially guarantees its citizens the freedom to practise whatever religion or belief they choose without restraint from the central authorities. We sincerely hope that by our actions today in releasing the Human Rights Torch around the world, we can contribute in some way towards bringing about a change of policy by the Chinese government for the benefit of its own citizens and the promotion of fundamental freedoms throughout the world."
Baroness Caroline Cox (Chair)
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