Paola Loriggio, The Toronto Star
May 18, 2008 04:30 AM
Senator says we have moral responsibility to speak out for those who are unable to
In a show of moral outrage, hundreds of Torontonians rallied for international human rights yesterday in two separate protests at Queen’s Park.
The targets were, respectively, China and Burma — two countries hit by recent natural disasters and under the rule of totalitarian regimes.
In the early afternoon, protesters bearing signs and banners stood at attention in orderly rows — in silence for a minute — for victims of the Monday earthquake that has killed close to 29,000 people in China.
Politicians and activists then decried China’s human rights violations against political prisoners, Tibetans and Falun Gong practitioners.
“We have an obligation, a responsibility as human beings, to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves,” said Conservative Senator Consiglio Di Nino. “What is happening in China is unacceptable.”
In a ceremony meant to evoke the Olympics, which Beijing hosts in August, rally organizers lit three torches to be carried on a 7-kilometre march through downtown Toronto. The march, led by Olympic skating medallist Elvis Stojko, was one of many throughout the world that are part of the Human Rights Torch Relay, a grassroots movement to protest what it calls Chinese crimes against humanity.
Anticipating the Beijing Games, such relays are expected in some 150 cities, including 10 in Canada, according to the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong, which launched the movement.