Belgium: Human Rights Torch Arrives in Antwerp

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The Human Rights Torch arrived in Antwerp, its second stop in Belgium, on the 29th September. After a morning of heavy rain, the torch from Brussels in the hands of two torch relay messengers led the supporters of the relay which started from St John Square and finished at the venue of the rally Queen’s Square near the railway station. The route covered the biggest China town in Belgium and attracted local people’s attention.

Member of the Flemish Parliament Jos Stassen (Green Party) came in person to show his support. He thinks that Belgian government should speak out in the international community and “it is important that we should press the Belgian government and I think our new Foreign Minister who will take the post in a few months should raise this issue in Europe and in the international community. I think it is important that political parties like us should press the government to criticise the Chinese regime.”

In Queen’s Square, the organiser of the event read the statements from VIPs who could not take part in the event in person. A representative from the CIPFG Belgium branch Philip Pitijan announced that CIPFG members would wear a yellow ribbon to support lawyer Gao Zhisheng. Recently Gao published an open letter to the US Congress and Senate and then on 23rd September he was secretly arrested by the Chinese Communist regime. His wife and children are under harassment and held in illegal house arrest. In his open letter, Gao called for the US Congress’ attention to human rights disasters happening in China, especially the eight years of continuous persecution against Falun Gong practitioners and the Communist regime’s crimes of trampling human rights in the name of the Olympic Games. The announcements made it clear again that, if the Olympic Games and crime against humanity were happening in China at the same time, this would not only bring shame to the Olympics but would also bring shame to the whole human race.

The event in the Square attracted crowds of people. Margaret from Estonia is working at a consultation company in Brussels and she used to be a photographer living in the darkness of Communism. She wanted to publish her photos of the event online to show her support of this human rights event. She said, “As a person who experienced the transformation between two state systems, I know what lack of freedom is and what is to regain freedom. I think that the Chinese people should have freedom, this is one of my purposes here, to express that I am with Chinese people.”

Seeing the event, Belgian Vila Taobo decided to put on the symbol of the Human Rights Torch to show her support, she said “I deeply believe in the beliefs they have, such as compassion and honesty, and some traditional values, I support these very much and I want to support those who make efforts for this event. I think if human rights are not respected, the Olympic Games should not be held in China’.

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