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Friday, May 23, 2008

Human Rights Torch Comes to Vancouver May 25

MWC: Vancouver - Activists will take to the streets and focus attention on human rights abuses in China before the Beijing Olympics when the "human rights torch" arrives in Vancouver on May 25.

Initiated by the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (CIPFG), Apaak Clement said, the torch relay is not looking to cause problems or interruptions. “It’s a very peaceful group who are against human rights violations. They’ve got lots of support from world leaders.”

The Human Rights Torch Relay is a global grassroots effort to raise awareness of the Chinese communist regime's human rights abuses. It strongly condemns the Chinese regime’s ruthless crackdown in Tibet; the underwriting of genocide in Darfur; the ongoing persecution of Falun Gong and arrest of nearly 2,000 followers since January 1; its support of corrupt regimes in Burma, N. Korea and Zimbabwe; and persecution of Christians, lawyers, reporters and all who have become ‘prisoners of the Olympics’ as a consequence of China’s pre-Olympic whitewash.

The message behind the relay, Clement said, is that “the Olympics and crimes against humanity cannot co-exist in China.” Since it was lit on Aug. 9, 2007, in Athens, Greece, the torch has traveled to 115 cities across the world; Vancouver is its last stop in Canada.

“We invite everyone concerned with human rights in China to join in the relay at the Art Gallery, Georgia Plaza. We will start at noon with speeches from VIPs followed by the Torch Walk and a celebration with 4 local bands interspersed with speeches from NGOs and wrap up around 5pm”, Clement said.

He stressed that it is not “a campaign against the people of China. This is just [protesting] the government’s role in human rights abuses. This is supporting the people of China.”

The relay, which follows the Olympic torch relay route in some areas, plans to span five continents, 40 countries and 150 cities.

Since May 4, the torch has traveled throughout Canada from Halifax to Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Kingston, Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg.

Global Human Rights Torch Relay
Vancouver Art Gallery ~ Georgia St. Side
May 25, 12pm-5pm

12pm – 1pm - Torch Receiving Ceremony

  • Apaak Clement, MC
  • Goddess of Freedom

Guest Speakers:

· Bill Siksay, Member of Parliament

  • David Matas, International Human Rights Lawyer

  • Simma Holt, Former MP and journalist

  • Clive Ansley, Chair of CIPFG and China Country Monitor for Lawyers Rights’ Watch Canada

  • Nazanin Afshin-Jam, Int. HR Activist, Recording Artist

  • Jim Stephenson, Federal Candidate for the Green Party

1pm – 2pm - Torch Walk—Start and finish: Art Gallery

2pm – 5pm –Live music interspersed with more speeches

  • Guo Guoting, Attorney from China and China Expert
  • Dan Grice, Green Party Candidate in recent Quadra By-Election
  • Shahram Vahdany, Founder of Media with a Conscience
  • Kyi Min Saw, Representative of Burma
  • Tenzin Lhalungpa, President of Canada Tibet Committee
  • Gao Qiaomin, Representive of Falun Gong
  • Apaak Clement, President of Canadian Students for Darfur
  • Message from Jeremy Frimer, world renowned mountain climber, Team Darfur

  • Music: Bocephus King ~ Darker the Sky ~ David Newberry ~ Innocent Bystander ~ Sarah Wheeler
“With our combined efforts, we can bring the true Olympic Spirit to the Chinese people”: CIPFG

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