Germany: The Spirit of "Never Again" at the Human Rights Torch Relay in Munich

At 11am on August 25th, the Human Rights Torch Relay arrived at the main stadium of the Olympic Centre in Munich for its opening ceremony. The relay started in Athens and passed through Berlin before coming to Munich. The ceremony in Munich was jointly hosted by CIPFG (Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong", IGFM (ISHR, The International Society for Human Rights, Germany), UOKG (Union of Victims of Communism), Association of Libraries to Commemorate Victims of Communism, Federation for a Democratic China, Student Association of Germany, and Mongolia People's Party. The event focused on China's human rights atrocities and demands to stop the persecution of Falun Gong and other groups.

A CIPFG representative read a statement and an open letter to German Chancellor Merkel. Mr. Fei Liangying, Chairman of Federation for a Democratic China and Ms. Dai Zhizhen, wife of a Falun Gong practitioner who was tortured to death by CCP, were among other speakers. Professor Geipel, a famous former athlete from Germany and the ambassador of the human rights torch in Germany had her speech read on the rally.

CIPFG Writes to German Chancellor Merkel and Chinese Leaders Hu and Wen

Representatives of four CIPFG chapters, at the request of their membership including over three hundred legislators, government officials, religious leaders, lawyers, medical doctors and human rights advocates around the world, wrote to German Chancellor Merkel and requested her to help stop the CCP's persecution of Falun Gong and to deliver a letter from the CIPFG to Chinese President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao during her visit to China scheduled to begin the following day.

In the open letter to Hu and Wen, CIPFG solemnly requests:

1. Stop the persecution of Falun Gong immediately and release all practitioners incarcerated for their faith.

2. Stop the persecution of friends and supporters and defence lawyers of Falun Gong practitioners (e.g. Gao Zhisheng, Li Hong).

3. Hold discussions with CIPFG to arrange details on the opening of labour camps, prisons, hospitals and related secretive facilities for inspection by CIPFG independent investigators.

In their open letter to Hu and Wen, they stated, "We are individuals and organizations with concern about social justice and basic human rights. The persecution endured by the Falun Gong practitioners in China in the past eight years is so much to bear and we feel like we are going through almost the same experience. Based on reports from the United Nations and other renowned human rights organizations, as well as extensive coverage from media around the world, we are aware that thousands of innocent Falun Gong practitioners have died as a result of this persecution. We are shocked to learn about the methods of torture practitioners are subjected to and the damage done to their lives. In addition, we are particularly disturbed by the reports on the state-sanctioned organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners. Knowing that tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners are still jailed around China and faced with both torture and organ harvesting, we cannot keep silent any longer."

Photos of CIPFG members: (top) Hon. David Kilgour, Canada's former Secretary of State and co-author of the Bloody Harvest report that details the organ harvesting atrocities now underway in China; Rabbi Dr. Reuven Bulka, religious leader and scholar, Chairman of the Organ Donation Committee of the Kidney Foundation for Eastern Ontario, Canada, and President of CIPFG US-Canada Chapter; Lai Ching-te, the chair of CIPFG in Asia, also a member of the Legislative Yuan in Taiwan; (bottom) Baroness Caroline Cox, Member of the House of Lords (UK), President of CIPFG Europe Chapter; and Andrew Bartlett, Australian Democrats Senator, Co-Chair of CIPFG Australia Chapter

Human Rights in China Getting Worse

Director of IGFM Branch in Munich introduced that IGFM is a public welfare organization and has been working for more than thirty years with a goal of human rights for all in the world. The organization supports people working non-violently for human rights and all people persecuted for safeguarding human rights. The focus of the Munich Branch of IGFM is China and Tibet. One year before the Olympic Games in Beijing, democratic advocates and exiled Tibet and Xinjiang organizations observe that China's human rights situation has seen no improvement. IGFM believes that the Chinese regime has not made any effort to improve human rights. With the persecution of Falun Gong, human rights in China can be seen to be taking a big step backward.

Australian Falun Gong practitioner Dai Zhizhen's husband was tortured to death in July 2001 for practising Falun gong. She and her daughter took a trip around the world and narrated their story. In her speech, she mentioned, "A few days ago, I went to Dachau Concentration Camp near Munich. No one could walk out with smile. The live organ harvesting occurring in China is a repeat. We must do something to stop history from being repeated."

Olympic Fan Supports Human Rights Torch Relay

Mr. Nehring from west Germany had an opportunity to lead the Torch Relay, running with the torch in hand. He obtained a flyer earlier and said, "I took the flyer home and searched for information online. I came to know that during the last few years, the CCP committed atrocities in human rights and live organ harvesting. I was shocked when I read the information from different channels. I support a boycott of the 2008 Olympic Game in Beijing. Since 1964, I have been a fan of the Olympics. I watched the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972, and in Innsbruck in 1976; in Lake Placid and Moscow in 1980 and in Sarajevo in 1984.

"The International Olympic Committee is obligated to select a host country safeguarding human rights and should treat China in the same way. If Chinese people are tortured and killed, and their organs are being harvested against their will, the Games should not be held in Beijing. The Olympic spirit promotes peace, friendship and justice. These will all be lost if the games are held in Beijing while such atrocities continue, and the Olympic Committee will lose its credibility.

"I and many people wish that all crimes will be verified and the perpetrators will be brought to justice. But it would be too late for Olympic mission to wait that day. Thus I wanted to come to Munich to participate in the Human Rights Torch Relay."

Public support

The Human Rights Torch Relay caught the attention of many people. Some walking or jogging in the park participated in the torch relay run. Martin Schankola was interested in the relay and joined the event. He thought that the event gave people a good opportunity to do something for human rights.

Martin's friend got the news of the relay a few days before. He said, "When I heard of the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, I thought I must do something. I read news about CCP's organ harvesting from live Falun Gong practitioners."

Twin sisters Lisa and Sonia obtained the news of the relay and thought the torch relay run is meaningful because practitioners in China are persecuted for practising Falun Gong.

Disgrace in Munich's History

Munich has experienced prosperity and decline since it was founded in 800. In history, there were dark ages in Munich. Dachau is a small town in north Munich, and was the location for the notorious Dachau Concentration Camp. When Hitler's regime persecuted Jews, some Jews fled from the camp and brought out the information. The persecution did not catch people's attention and those who heard of it did not believe. Some governments kept silent so as to not offend Hitler. If some people stood up and spoke for the Jews then, many lives could be saved. But human being missed the opportunity. After the war, the crimes in the concentration camp were exposed. People were shocked and swore "Never again".

Munich is the third city to host the human rights torch relay, an excellent opportunity to remove the disgrace.

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