The Canadian tour of a global torch relay to raise awareness about human rights violations in China ignited in Halifax yesterday with a rally, run and live music.
“We do not boycott our Olympics, but we want Olympics with human rights,” said Muhong Wang of Halifax, one of the local organizers.
“In 2001, when the Olympics was awarded to China, the Chinese government made a promise that they will improve their human rights record. What you see now — it is not improving.”
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The global grassroots effort has touched down in 30 countries and will span six continents and 40 nations. Its goal is to raise awareness of human rights violations in China leading up to the Beijing Olympics, which begin in August.
China has also been criticized for its tactics in quelling anti-government riots and protests in Tibet.
Halifax NDP MP Alexa McDonough lit the torch yesterday in front of the Spring Garden Road Memorial Library and about 50 onlookers.
“Our plea in coming together in gatherings large and small across the planet is to say to the Chinese government that it is an abuse into the very agreement in which you entered to host the Olympics, for you not to have seized the opportunity to clean up your act,” she said.
McDonough then lit two more torches carried by women dressed as Olympic goddesses. The women ran 31/2 kilometres to Grande Parade Square, where there was live music and more speeches.
In a news release, the group said it “strongly condemns the Chinese regime’s ruthless crackdown in Tibet … the ongoing persecution of Falun Gong and arrest of nearly 2,000 followers since Jan. 1, 2008 … and persecution of all who have effectively become ‘prisoners of the Olympics’ as a consequence of China’s pre-Olympics whitewash.”