Human Rights Torch Relay Rally in Salt Lake City

The Human Rights Torch Relay is an international campaign that seeks to bring an end to all human rights abuses against the people of China, while highlighting the persecution of Falun Gong – the most severely persecuted group in China today. During the run up to the 2008 Olympics, the HRTR will host events in 37 countries across six continents to present its message: The Olympics and crimes against humanity cannot coexist in China. The Tibetan, Burmese, and Vietnamese communities, the Darfur Support Network (Sudan), Chinese democracy groups, student groups, former Olympians, and representatives from sports and politics are among the relay participants. The HRTR was initiated by the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (CIPFG).

I have been asked to be a speaker on behalf of the Green Party, to address environmental injustice in China.
Sunday, April 20, 10am – Peace Walk followed by Rally
City County Buidling at Washington Square400 South State Street, Salt Lake City
Events starts with a peaceful march followed by speakers and musicians.
Speakers include: Chinese Olympic Basketball player Kai Chen, a Falun Gong former prisoner of conscience (whose speech will be read for her, so that she can remain anonymous for her safety), Tsewang Rinzin, president of Tibetan association, Erika George, U of U law professor, Deanna Taylor of Green Party of Utah Desert Greens and more.
Deanna Taylor is a local peace activist who is also a co-coordinator of the Green Party
of Utah Desert Greens.  Deanna also serves as a delegate to the Green Party of the United
States and participates on several committees.  Deanna was a candidate for Salt Lake
County Council in 2006.  She also co-founder of the Green Party Peace Network.

A public school teacher by profession, Deanna, along with her husband Tom King, is a co-founder of Blue Sky Institute, a grassroots educational non-profit organization that focuses on peace, justice and sustainability issues.  Deanna has been to peace events all over the country and was a
featured speaker at a peace rally last September in Los Angeles.  She has also
participated in several civil resistance events in protest to war and nuclear testing and
has been arrested at the Nevada test site in May, 2006 in the move to stop the Divine
Strake test.

by Deanna “Dee” Taylor

Greetings from the Green Party of Utah Desert Greens, the Green Party of the UnitedStates, and the Green Party Peace Network.

The count down to the 2008 Olympics in China has brought with it assurances by the Chinese government that the development of human rights would be strengthened. However the Chinese government continues to restrict its citizens? fundamental rights, including freedom of expression, freedom of association, and freedom of religion. Labor rights, Children?s rights, Women’s rights, and access to health care to patients with HIV/AIDS, a very serious health issue in China, all are also compromised by the restrictions on the people living under the Chinese regime.

I will focus, today, though, on the how the Chinese government engages in human rights abuses by virtue of its unregulated environmental practices.

The BBC in August 2007 reported that some of the Olympic games in the Bejing games in 2008 could be postponed due to pollution. The president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was quoted that “It is an option.?Sports with short durations would not be a problem, but endurance sports like cycling are examples of competitions that might be postponed or delayed.”

Billions have been spent in an attempt to reduce pollution without success.

The Human Rights in China Olympics Campaign, in a February 2007 article called China?s Environment and Situation of Water reported that , and I quote:

With a record high of US$177.47 billion in trade surplus last year, China is one of the world’s economic powerhouses. However, this economic growth comes at the expense of the environment and public health. Researchers estimate that pollution in China causes more than 300,000 premature deaths every year. In addition to human costs, pollution has brought economic losses at an estimated 10 percent of China’s GDP. According to the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), China will need to spend a projected 1.6 percent of its GDP, totaling about 1.3 trillion yuan (US $167 billion) to clean up the environment and prevent further degradation between 2006 and 2010. Extensive environmental damage has also fueled rising social unrests. In 2005, SEPA reported that severe pollution prompted 51,000 public disputes, while the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China has identified pollution as one of four social problems linked to social disharmony.

China’s environment is deteriorating on all fronts: air, land and water and is negatively affecting biodiversity and the health and quality of life for individuals. The statistics on air pollution, loss of farmland, toxic waters, and biodiversity are alarming.

The Chinese government’s lack of sustainable water management policies has contributed to water pollution that significantly harms public health, water shortage and contamination, and loss of community livelihood and local income.

Polluted water not only has a significant impact on public health in China, but also the livelihood of farmers and fishermen . Additionally, coastal waters have become polluted to the point of rendering the water uninhabitable for coastal species and organisms. The management of water in china does not reflect the regard for water being used as a communal resource, resulting in several hundred thousand displaced residents.

Under international laws, all people have the right to basic human needs, such as water, health and an adequate standard of living. These rights are protected in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which has been ratified by 155 countries, including China in 2001. Ratification dictates that countries must adopt effective measures to realize, without discrimination, the right to sufficient, safe, acceptable, accessible and affordable water. In China, however, this still remains out of reach for much of its population.

Various human rights organizations have discovered that, while for the 2008 Beijing Olympics Games, China has committed to a “Green Olympics,”  (giving top priority to environmental protection, including preventing air pollution and protecting drinking water sources. A reported $7 billion has been spent on environmental clean-up for the Olympic Games, and the government has committed to replacing coal with clean energies), the overall preparation for the Olympics has been plagued by corruption, forced relocations, and lack of transparency and independent monitoring mechanisms.

In other words, the Chinese government does not walk the talk.

How can we in the United States make a difference in this situation? Get active.

Participate in movements to boycott corporately controlled events like the Olympics. Boycott sponsors that promote the Olympics – especially those that are linked to human rights violation practices. Help support celebrities like Stephen Speilberg who, in a bold move, withdrew from his role as an artistic adviser to the 2008 Olympic Games in Bejing, because of his opposition to China’s support for the Sudanese regime responsible for the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. He has accused China of not doing enough to press Sudan to end the “continuing human suffering” in the troubled region. Write to the Chinese embassy to demand the release of political prisoners for exercising the right to speak out against human rights abuses. Support the environmental movement in China. Research, read and absorb all the information you can about environmental human rights violations to become better informed. Support groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, whose missions are to work to defend the rights of humans worldwide. Urge your representatives to defend human rights world wide. When exercising your right to vote, vote for politicians who value human and environmental rights in our world. I became a member of the Green Party because of its key values of non-violence, environmental justice, and advocacy for human rights. Seek out organizations which value life on our planet.

I’d like to end with this Pledge to Life, which my husband, Tom King, wrote:

I pledge allegiance to all life in its interdependent diversity;

and to the Planet upon which it exists,

one World,

under the sky,

undividable with harmony and balance for all.

One response to “Human Rights Torch Relay Rally in Salt Lake City

  1. Great speech, Dee and good info–thanks. China must be an atrocious place to live and work if you want to be healthy and free.

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