Recently signs and posters in support of the Human Rights Torch Relay have appeared in many places throughout Beijing. Some people even had their pictures taken in front of the Great Hall of the People near Tiananmen Square wearing T-shirts with slogans for the Human Rights Torch.
Some of the most ardent supporters of the torch are petitioners. On the eve of the Olympic Games many petitioners entered Beijing for a chance appeal for justice, despite the Chinese authorities' attempts to arrest them. Some petitioners have been petitioning for many years in vain, and they have been violently suppressed during the process.
“We eagerly welcome the arrival of the Human Rights Torch,” said a petitioner. “Many of us have been deprived of everything. We certainly thirst after human rights and freedom.”
Many people from mainland China called the torch hotline, saying that the present state of human rights in China is extremely poor, and that Chinese people long to see the Human Rights Torch to be relayed throughout the country.
“We are born with human rights that we cannot be deprived of,” remarked a Chinese caller. “If our human rights are not guaranteed, we would live in misery. The Chinese people have been reduced to slavery for too long.”
Another caller described the constant fear China's grassroots live under: “Chinese police would snatch away every valuable thing, just like a bunch of robbers. We are scared of them because they can beat you up and arrest you any time they want. The city administrators are no better than gangsters. Once I saw some administrators robbing a poor peddler who was selling breakfast, taking away everything they could take and smashing everything else. All media agencies are controlled tightly by the authorities, so people do not have much chance to know the truth.”
Since the Human Rights Torch Relay entered mainland China in March, it has been warmly received throughout the country.