Brooklyn helped fanned the flame of controversy when it played host to a traveling torch relay that has traveled more than 80,000 miles across the world to decry the Communist Chinese government in time for the Beijing summer games, August 8-24.
The 120-strong Human Rights Torch Relay (HRTR) arrived in Downtown Brooklyn as part of a tour to approximately 150 cities on four continents, for an illumination ceremony at Centre Street and walk across the Brooklyn Bridge beneath a banner bearing the message, “Olympics and Crimes Against Humanity Cannot Co-exist in China.”
A coalition of oppressed groups and elected officials hosted the trek in a symbolic relay to bring attention to the on-going human rights abuses by the Chinese Community Party, particularly with regards to Tibet.
Leading the group were a pair of women dressed in Grecian togas, a harkening to the ancient games in Greece, where a sacred flame was lit from the sun’s rays at Olympia, and stayed lit until the games were completed.
Unlike the official Beijing Olympics flame-bearer, who is protected by bodyguards at every stop, the HRTR relay invites anyone to join in and run alongside the bearer of the human rights torch.
The flame returned to China, May 3, to begin the final leg of its journey across the nation with scheduled stops in such places as the peak of Mount Everest before arriving in Beijing for the game’s opening ceremonies.
The HRTR started in August 2007 in Greece and its participants include individuals, church leaders, government officials, civic and professional groups in addition to non-profit organizations committed to universal human rights.