Ongoing state violence inside China against human rights activist has prompted an international hunger strike relay.
"I hope more people with conscience will join us to help continue the protest," said Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng in the first of several announcements calling for relay hunger strikes posted on the Epoch Times website
The hunger strikes were sparked by the beating of Guangdong Province lawyer Guo Feixiong, by Chinese Police on Friday February 3. Two other human rights activist have also recently been beaten, one of whom, Mr. Wu Xianghu, the deputy chief editor of Taizhou Evening News , died from his injuries ( Chinese Newspaper Editor Beaten to Death by Police .)
On Tuesday night February 7 the first hunger strike participants stopped eating for 48 hours, doing so in turns so someone is always on strike. Kyodo News Service reported that most of those joining in on the relay are one-time government protestors, political activists, lawyers and writers. It is estimated that over 100 people in China have participated in the relay in the first week.
Mr. Gao said the hunger strikes would continue for as long as abuses of civilians by the Chinese communist regime persisted.
"This is a way to help those citizens who have been, are being, and will be persecuted. This is also to expose, record, and condemn those people of the Communist regime who exercise such persecution. This is my biggest hope in doing this," the Beijing lawyer said.
"We have repeatedly promoted bloodless and non-violent means, but it does not mean at all that we will give up our resistance. When legal channels are blocked, we must rely on our physical bodies, the most primitive means, to protest. This very fact reveals what a sad time we are living in."
Professor Chiou of the school of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Queensland said that Mr. Gao has tried to address civil and human rights abuses through the legal processes in China.
"According to the Chinese constitution people have the right to freedom of association, freedom of religions, freedom of speech in China," said Professor Chiou.
"Clearly we know that in more than half-a-century there are no freedoms of speech, of religion, of associations of the press in China."
"I think we need to raise the consciousness not only in China but also in Australia and in other parts of the world. Maybe hunger strike is a way to do it, so because of that I will support the action," Professor Chiou told The Epoch Times.
The Professor also said that with increasing economic resources the Communist regime in China are increasingly more able to control the Chinese population.
Mr. Gao's licence to practise law was revoked last December after he sent an open letter to China's President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, urging them to respect religious freedom and end the brutal crackdown on the Falun Gong spiritual movement in China.
Since then Mr. Gao and his family have been subjected to police surveillance and intimidation.
After being forced to stop practising law, Mr Gao has issued an investigative report about the crackdown on Christian House Church leaders in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of north-west China.
To support Mr Gao and the human rights activist in China peaceful hunger strike relays have been established outside Chinese embassies and consulates in Canadian and US cities, in Europe, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, New Zealand and Australia.
So far four Australian cities with overseas Chinese missions: Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane have all had hunger strikes begin outside their walls.
In Sydney high profile defector Chen Yonglin, the former First Secretary of the Chinese Consulate in Sydney, partook in the first 24 hour shift hunger strike on Friday February 10. Joining him was leading Chinese dissident writer and academic, Professor Yuan Hongbin, a leading figure in the democracy movement in China.
"Last year I was working and living inside this overseas prison of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) and now I'm outside, I stand here also to support Mr. Gao Zhisheng and a number of lawyers in China who have been engaged in the human rights movement. They are maintaining the basic human rights of the Chinese people that have been totally stolen away by the Chinese Communist Party," Mr. Chen said.
The former diplomat said that global hunger strikes will be the biggest campaign for freedom since the 1989 democracy movement of which he was a witness as a student.
"We hope more people, more Chinese people will stand up and join us because the Chinese people can only save themselves by standing up, themselves," said Mr. Chen.
Joining the hunger strike outside the consulate to show support fro Mr. Gao were senior staff of The Epoch Times . They are also protesting the viscous assault and robbery by suspected agents working for the Chinese communist regime against a senior Epoch Times staff member ( Epoch Times Chief Technical Officer Beaten in His Own Home .)
Among the first participants in the relay strike outside the Chinese embassy in Canberra was the President of the Chinese Labor Party Mr. Fang Yuan.
Meanwhile in Melbourne, former agent for the 610 Office (Chinese Gestapo) who defected to Australia last year, Hao Fengjun, joined three others in a relay strike outside the Chinese consulate on Monday.
In Brisbane on Tuesday Southern Queensland lecturer in Chinese Studies Zhao Yan joined the hunger strike outside the new Chinese consulate on Adelaide Street.