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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Rights relay to stop here

    Tucson residents get a chance tomorrow to participate in one leg of a worldwide event advocating better human rights in China as the Summer Olympics in Beijing draws closer.

    The Human Rights Torch Relay, a 3-mile walk/run, takes place at Reid Park between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m.

    “”We’re drawing a parallel to the 1936 Olympics when Hitler fooled the world when he brought the Olympics to Germany,”” said Mary Jo Ard, the relay’s local organizer. “”He created political capital and distracted nations from the human rights violations that were already going on at the time.””

    The relay is meant to shed light specifically on the practices of the Chinese government in persecuting its citizens and funding groups in other nations that commit human rights violations.

    Students Taking Action Now in Darfur, a student group that will be holding its own rally Sunday at El Presidio Park, aims to spread information about the Chinese regime funding militias in Darfur that are committing crimes against humanity.

    Calls to Mickey Jackson, president of the Tucson chapter of STAND, were not returned yesterday.

    The relay, which began in Greece in August, is stopping in more than 150 cities in 37 countries. The relay came to the United States for a 41-city tour on March 29 and concludes May 14.

    Tomorrow’s event will include display tables for activist and religious groups, as well as live music by local bands.

    Anyone is welcome to participate in the relay or come for the information and entertainment, Ard said.

    While much media attention surrounding the Olympic Games in recent weeks has been focused on the oppression of Tibet, relay sponsors are seeking to raise awareness about persecution of other factions in China, including journalists, political activists and the practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice, and Christianity.

    “”If you go to China, you see McDonald’s and Starbucks all around, and it looks like capitalism, but most people aren’t aware of the persecutions that are actually taking place,”” Ard said. “”Most Chinese citizens aren’t even aware of it.””

    The relays and other similar events and protests have led to the state legislatures of Colorado and Massachusetts passing resolutions condemning the actions of the Chinese government.

    The issue of the Arizona legislature adopting a similar resolution will be proposed May 11 when state officials hold a conference on the topic in Phoenix.

    “”This is not an attempt to boycott the Olympics,”” Ard said. “”We love the notion of the Olympics taking place in China. We’re just trying to raise awareness about these issues going on in the country.””

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