Radio Free Asia: Human Rights Torch Arrives in Paris

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Radio Free Asia reported on September 17th, 2007, the arrival of the Human Rights Torch in Paris. The following is the report:

On Sunday, September 16th the Human Rights Torch arrived in Paris, France’s capital, and the birthplace of the Declaration of the Rights of Man. In Human Rights Square located in downtown Paris, the largest rally concerning China’s human rights since 1989 was held. The following is RFA’s special correspondent Tian Yi’s report.

The Human Right Torch Relay, which intends to boycott the Beijing Olympics because the Chinese communist regime utilises the event to strengthen its autocracy and continue its persecution against human rights and Falun Gong practitioners, was lit in Athens, Greece, on August 9th, 2007. The Relay received extensive attention when the torch was carried through Europe. The Relay reached another climax on Sunday, September 16th when the Torch arrived in Paris, the birthplace of the Declaration of the Rights of Man.

At one o’clock in the afternoon, the reporter interviewed Mr. Zhang Jian, who participated in the grand rally. Being a student leader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Incident, Mr. Zhang was wounded by gun shot but luckily survived. Mr. Zhang said, “Today, we gather in Human Rights Square in France and hold a rally at the Eiffel Tower. The rally received great support from various human rights organisations of France and overseas; Chinese organisations; the democracy movement, including the Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition; the Federation for a Democratic China (FDC) and the Social Democratic Party.”

Referring to the Torch Relay, Mr. Zhang said, “There were more than 700 people wearing T-shirts attending the relay. When the Torch was passed to Paris from Switzerland, the relay participants carried the torch and ran for eight kilometres from The Place de la Concorde to the Human Rights Square via the Arc de Triomphe, and Avenue George Washington to the Chinese Embassy. Human Rights Square was inaugurated by President Mitterrand in 1989. A famous historic event, i.e. the Declaration of the Rights of Man, was announced here in 1789.”

Talking about the activities, Mr. Zhang said excitedly, “Today is an unusually sunny day. We set under a gigantic platform in the square with the Eiffel Tower as the background. There are more than half a million tourists from all over the world coming to the square every day. This is an unprecedented, spectacular occasion.”

He added, “The rally is supported by many French politicians, including former Minister of Culture, former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and incumbent parliament members as well as the Vice President of the European Parliament, members associated with the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movement and members of the Hong Kong Legislative Council. While some sent in congratulatory message, others come to attend the rally in person. The rally also attracted the media’s attention, such as Le Figaro. Chinese media including the Sound of Hope and secretchina.com also provided comprehensive coverage of the event.”

Mr. Zhang also introduced the performances that would carry on all day long until midnight. He said, “We invited the Pangu Rock from China. They composed six songs related to the Human Rights Torch tonight and sang them in the square. There was another 100 member choir performing without accompaniment. Some famous French artistic groups and individuals displayed their artwork in the square to support the rally.”

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