The Global Human Rights Torch Relay was disrupted by Macau authorities on the weekend and five arrests were made, which were described as unwarranted by organizers.
The Global Human Rights Torch relay commenced in Athens on August 8 2007 to raise awareness of China’s human rights crimes in the lead up to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Since then the Human Rights Torch Relay has spanned 6 continents, with relays run and torches carried in over 40 countries and an estimated 150 cities,
Half an hour before the event in Macau on July 18, Macau police arrested four people including the event’s MC, Mr Hu Nan Ping.
Two ladies dressed in Greek costumes, and another citizen Mr Lin Yi Ming, a Macau Falun Gong representative, were also arrested.
Although the ceremony continued, when the Human Rights Torch was eventually lit, the police attempted to put out the flame with an extinguisher and then arrested Mr Lin Jian Run, a speaker, and one of the events initiators.
According to observers, Mr Lin, a pro-democracy movement representative, gave a speech at around 1.45pm. He then handed the torch to Mr Qu Jin Xin, a member of Macau’s Legislative Council. The Torch was lit but when Mr Qu held it high, it was put out by police with a fire extinguisher.
Mr Lin, caught in the fumes of the extinguisher was quite sick from the spray, witnesses said, but he received little sympathy from Macau police who manhandled him into a van.
The arrests were made in front of a crowd of onlookers including reporters from local and international media.
Although the area and roads were sealed off and an estimated 200 uniformed and plain clothed officers were on site, the planned relay did not take place.
Another initiator of the Relay, Mr Wu Xi Yuan, said the interference was an indication that Macau authorities had little respect for rule of law.
Mr Wu a union representative, said if the government was opposed to the Human Rights Torch Relay it would not have allowed residents to organize the event.
He warned that if clampdowns like this continued, human rights in Macau would become so restricted that in the future different opinions would have no expression in Macau.
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