Human Rights Torch Brings Denver Together

The crowd sits in silence as Leadville Jim and Sara Effner play a song in remembrance of all the Falun Gong practitioners who have died at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party. (A. Muir Ellsmore/The Epoch Times)

(In the lead up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, a Human Rights Torch Relay (HRTR) run occurred around the world, to raise awareness of the human rights atrocities committed by China’s communist regime. – ToT)

DENVER–On Saturday, hundreds of Coloradoans celebrated the arrival of the Global Human Rights Torch Relay (HRTR) in Denver with a 5-kilometer run as well as two stages with performers, speakers, and local bands.

Local groups representing Falun Gong practitioners, Tibetans, Christians, Burmese, Darfur activists, and concerned citizens were united behind the HRTR message: “The Olympics and crimes against humanity cannot coexist in China.”

The Global Human Rights Torch Relay, which began in Athens, Greece, is circling the world with its human rights message ahead of the Beijing Olympics. The crowd came to Denver City Park to show their solidarity for groups persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party.

Crimes against humanity in China have increased since the International Olympic Committee gave the 2008 Olympics to Beijing, according to human rights advocates. These atrocities have become more well-known as the games near, and many individuals, groups, and governments are stepping forward to voice their concerns.

Chris Natzke, master instructor at the Family Martial Arts Center, in Denver said, “When you’re getting close to an event like this [the Olympics], the pressure actually brings all this stuff to the surface. You can’t suppress it–it’s like a beach ball being held under water.”

Colorado House and Senate Support HRTR

On Friday, The Colorado State Senate and House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution in support for the Human Rights Torch Relay campaign, declaring April as “Human Rights Torch Relay Month.” In addition, proclamations from Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and Lakewood Mayor Bob Murphy, and a support letter from former state Senator Frank Weddig were read during the rally.

Runners and walkers lined up at the start of the race for the torch-lighting ceremony at 8:30 a.m. and dashed then off into the beautiful spring morning.

Essie Garrett, the 1996 Olympic Torchbearer for Colorado, ran and also spoke at the rally. Ms. Garrett has run over 23,000 miles and raised over a million dollars for over 250 charities since 1981.

Twenty-one local bands performed at the event from noon to 8 p.m. Speakers, scheduled every hour, included a Burmese monk, as well as people speaking on behalf of Falun Gong practitioners, the Tibetan Association of Colorado, Colorado-Burma Roundtable, The Voice of the Martyrs, Amnesty International, Students for Sudan, Unified Vietnamese American Council, and The Epoch Times.

The bands welcomed the opportunity to be at an event that stressed the message of hope and human rights.

“It’s really a great event that they put on here today–hopefully there’ll be more of these,” said Christian Blochinger, drummer for the Potcheen Folk Band of Denver.

A candlelight vigil began at 8 p.m. with Leadville Jim and Sara Effner singing songs in remembrance of all the Falun Gong practitioners who have died as a result of the brutal persecution by the Chinese Communist Party.

By A. Muir Ellsmore / Epoch Times Denver Staff    (Additional Reporting by Stacie Towar-Fogarty)

The original Epoch Times article can be found here:

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