Human Rights Torch Arrives in Durban

Author: Jie

The Human Rights Torch Relay visited Durban, South Africa on Feb. 16, with a music concert capping off the ceremony in Durban City Hall Square.

Durban City councilor Mr. Jayraj Bachu delivers a speech at the Human Rights Torch Relay ceremony in Durban City Hall Square. (The Epoch Times)

Durban City councilor Mr. Jayraj Bachu was the invited host for the event and delivered a supporting speech at a ceremony for the Relay, whose theme since the relay began in Athens, Greece, in August 2007 has been: “The Olympics and crimes against humanity cannot coexist in China.”

Councilor Fawzia Peer, Chief Whip of the Ethekwini (Durban) Municipality, wrote a supporting letter for the Torch Relay which was read by Councilor Jayraj Bachu.

In the letter, Mr. Peer said:

“Human rights, political persecution and oppression are nothing new to us. This very square where you have assembled was the red square where anti-apartheid freedom campaigners often gathered in large numbers to voice their opposition to colonialism and apartheid.

“You have gathered on a square that is steeped in human rights culture. This is a human rights city where our streets have been named in memory of our freedom fighters.

“I am particularly pleased that your Global Human Rights Torch Relay has reached a city where we have zero tolerance for human right abuses.

“Thank you for giving the city of Durban, the African National Congress, the office of the mayor and me the honor of addressing you this morning as you continue with what the Dalai Lama predicted would be the start of a thousand-mile journey towards ending human rights abuses in China.

Supporters of the Human Rights Torch Relay in Durban, South Africa. (The Epoch Times)

“Ladies and Gentlemen, since the 1940s when colonialism gave way to apartheid, we were in the same shoes as the Falun Gong and brave men campaigners like Gao Zhisheng.”

“Banned, banished, exiled, excommunicated, persecuted, tortured, jailed, oppressed, our people campaigned on these steps and squares around the world to highlight the atrocities of apartheid.

“Is was a long and protracted struggle until the would yielded and declared apartheid a crime against humanity.”

“Today, we feel for the Falun Gong and activists such as Gao Zhisheng.

“Today, we empathize and support your clarion call as you carry a torch around 100 cities to tell the world that Chinese dissidents can no longer be subjected to human rights abuses.

“Ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, your campaign, the Olympics and crimes against humanity cannot co-exist in China.

“From Durban and its people who have tasted freedom, we pray that the Beijing Olympics will be the torchbearer that would melt the hearts of hard attitudes against those who speak for human rights and social justice.

The Human Rights Torch relay procession passing through Durban City Hall Square. (The Epoch Times)

“In the post-modern world of the technological revolution where communications across the globe is excellent through emails and the Internet, the world has no place for oppression and abuses of one by another.

“Through dialogue and peaceful protests, your organization has a moral duty to raise this human rights issue on the Beijing Olympics agenda. together with the support of Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, The Red Cross, The Red Crescent, and many human rights organizations, I am confident that you will strive to bring relief to the many dissidents who are being persecuted for their beliefs.

“The city of Durban is honored to endorse and embrace this event.

“May the torch of truth and human rights shine brightly for those who seek freedom and social justice!

“I thank you and wish this campaign every success.”

After the speech, Mr. J. Bachu lit the torch and, in a symbolic gesture, gave it to the people of Durban.

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