Greece: Lighting the Human Rights Torch To End the Persecution

On the evening of August 9th 2007, the Global Human Rights Torch Relay was launched on Syntagma Square, in front of the Hellenic Parliament buildings in Athens, Greece. Representatives of the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (CIPFG) from four delegations in Europe, Asia, North America and Australasia and other supporters from various organizations observed the grand occasion at the birthplace of the Olympic movement, one year ahead of the Beijing 2008 Olympics. The ceremony launched the year-long journey of the "Global Human Rights Torch Relay".

On the evening of August 9th 2007, the "Human Rights Torch" was lit in Greece

The CIPFG is composed of more than 300 international figures from political, legal and medical professions, human rights and other non-governmental organizations. Initiated by the CIPFG, the Global Human Rights Torch Relay will travel through 100 cities around the world. Its purpose is to call on the international community to focus on brutal violations of human rights and the Olympics spirit by the Chinese Communist regime, in order to stop such crimes and not let the 2008 Olympic Games that symbolizes peace and freedom of humanity become the "Bloody Harvest Games".

Sacred Torch for Putting an End to the Persecution

At the opening ceremony of the Global Human Rights Torch Relay, representatives from different continents made speeches, condemning the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) persecution of beliefs and trampling upon human rights.

Leading CIPFG member and Secretary-General of Interfaith International headquartered in Switzerland, Dr. Charles Graves gave the first speech. He introduced the original intention of the Human Rights Torch Relay, and said that modern civilized countries cannot repress the torch of religious beliefs and at the same time hold the torch of the Olympics.

Secretary-General of Interfaith International, Dr. Charles Graves gives a speech

The CIPFG announced over three months ago that if the CCP would not make a satisfactory response regarding the three demands raised by the CIPFG by August 8th 2007, the CIPFG would gather all righteous strength around the world to boycott the Beijing 2008 Olympics. The three demands included: First, stop the persecution of Falun Gong immediately and release all practitioners incarcerated for their faith. Second, stop the persecution of friends, supporters and defence lawyers of Falun Gong practitioners, including Gao Zhisheng and Li Hong. Third, hold discussions with CIPFG to arrange details of the opening up of forced labour camps, prisons, hospitals and related secretive facilities for inspection by CIPFG independent investigators.

As of today, the CCP has not made any explicit response regarding the three demands; instead, it refused to issue visas for CIPFG members who wanted to enter China to conduct an investigation. At the same time, the CCP has stepped up its persecution of Falun Gong, other spiritual groups and human rights defenders. Therefore, to fulfil its promise, the CIPFG launched the "Global Human Rights Torch Relay" on August 9, in order to boycott the 2008 Olympics to be held in China under the CCP's rule, because "The Olympics and Crimes against Humanity Cannot Co-exist in China."

In a statement from the UK, Baroness Caroline Cox, President of the European Delegation of the CIPFG, said that the day on which the International Human Rights Torch Relay movement in Athens is launched will be the most important day in human history. She hopes to raise the world's attention about the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners happening in China. Through calling for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics, we can put an end to the persecution soon, and safeguard the Olympic spirit and human dignity.

Support from People in Athens

On August 8th and 9th, volunteers could be seen on the streets in Athens spreading the information about the Human Rights Torch Relay and the facts about the CCP's persecution of Falun Gong.

The people of Greece were shocked at the CCP's atrocities in persecuting Falun Gong. They also enthusiastically supported the Global Human Rights Torch Relay. Some people took the flyers and asked for more for their friends. Others took the flyers and made a thumbs-up gesture to volunteers, while some patted the volunteers on their shoulders and said, "Well done, you're working hard!"

After learning about the CCP's crimes, some overseas Chinese people passing by asked the volunteers to help them quit the CCP and its affiliated organizations on the spot. Twenty-seven year old Li Li is from Inner Mongolia of China. She came to Athens to study after graduating from a university in China. She is now working on advertisement designs. When she saw the logo of the Human Rights Torch Relay on flyers, she walked up to talk to a volunteer. She said that she saw the information about the Human Rights Torch Relay on TV the previous night. She had learned about the CCP's tight blockade of information when she was in Inner Mongolia. People living in Outer Mongolia can access over 100 cable TV channels, but they could only access a few channels permitted by the CCP. When asked if she knew that more than 24 million Chinese people had quit the CCP and its affiliated organizations, Li Li asked the volunteer to help her quit the Young Pioneers and Youth League on the spot. She also said that she would inform her friends and relatives in China about the news.

The Human Rights Torch Relay activity calling for an end to the CCP's persecution has also drawn attention from many media outlets in North America, Asia and Europe.

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