New York City—While the well-known Olympic Torch is making its way from city to city, a press conference for a symbolically different, lesser known, but ever more popular torch was feted on Friday afternoon in front of many of the world's international diplomats just across from the U.N.
It is known as the Human Rights Torch Relay, an international campaign to bring an end to human rights atrocities in China, including journalists, Tibetan Buddhists, religious leaders, democracy advocates and Falun Gong, the spiritual meditation practice which has experienced an unprecedented level of persecution and genocide since 1999.
The torch is traveling to 37 different countries across the world to call for a stop to the human rights atrocities as China prepares for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Many passersby stopped by to find out more information about the HRTR event such as Scott Dalby, a UK student currently studying at NYU.
"I think it is very clever … it is a good way of drawing attention to issues about Falun Gong that you'd want to draw issues to … I definitely think it will have an impact," said Dalby.
"I have read a lot about this organ harvesting business from Kilgour and Matas and I think in one way it is beyond doubt that there are people being killed in China because they are Falun Gong Practitioners. I think that is not really disputable ... The numbers are an issue of course…"
The shock associated with the persecution of Falun Gong has ever increased since the release of The Organ Harvesting Report produced by former Canadian Secretary of State (for Asia Pacific) David Kilgour and well regarded attorney and former member of the Canadian delegation to the UN, David Matas.
The report is the documentation of an independent investigation launched by Kilgour and Matas which confirmed the existence of systematic organ harvesting from live Falun Gong practitioners.
Human Rights Attorney Abducted by the CCP
Soon after the release of Gao Zhisheng's biographical book about his trials as a child running through to adulthood in China and his rise to acclaim as a successful human rights attorney, Gao was abducted once again, by the Chinese Communist Party in China
This comes soon after his letter to the United States Senate about the persecution and genocide of Falun Gong.
Gao has experienced a great deal of intimidation from the CCP since defending Falun Gong practitioners amidst the severe persecution, and this is not the first time he has been abducted.
In his book, A China More Just, Gao details the surveillance and brutality he receives from the police in China.
Calls for his release were addressed at the press conference as well.