Passions burn as Olympic Torch reaches London

One of the things that I enjoy about working in the media is being in the thick of key moments as they happen.

Until yesterday my two top faves were helping to cover events at Canary Wharf on September 11, 2001 for BBC London, and working on 5 Live Breakfast on the morning of 2000 US presidential elections results when George Bush won…then lost…then won again. 

But being on the streets of London yesterday with Amnesty supporters to draw attention to China’s human rights record as the Olympic Torch passed by has definitely taken a top position. Nearly 200 Amnesty supporters braved the snow and bitterly cold weather to line the streets of London with our ‘Human Rights for China’ placards and banners.  Here are just some of the great pictures taken by Jussi – one Amnesty supporter who took part.

While Chris Snow – another Amnesty member – and I were giving a radio interview at Somerset House we caught a great view of the torch despite it being surrounded by a Chinese delegation and about three dozen police officers who were shielding the runner. 

It’s definitely fair to say that yesterday’s events were not without commotion, and it looks as though today’s events in Paris are just as lively. 

Yesterday protesters were out in the thousands and they took on all forms. Some went to disrupt, some went to support and others wanted to use the opportunity to remind people about other issues affecting China.  But one thing is certain – while protestors came under all sorts of banners, one thing is clear, each person had the right to protest peacefully. 

This is a basic right given to every human being. But unfortunately this is a right that is denied to the one billion people of China.  Should people in China dare to speak out, they face arrest or imprisonment. And that’s just one of the reason why Amnesty supporters took to the streets here in London.

As Lizzy – another of our activists who took to the streets yesterday – put it, Amnesty was there to remind China’s authorities of the promise it made to improve the country’s human rights record in the run-up to the Olympics.  So far they haven’t – if anything the situation for some has got worse. 

Go to www.amnesty.org.uk/china to find out more!

For those of you missed out on yesterday’s opportunity to take part in our Olympic Torch Relay demonstration or if you want to take to the streets again to campaign for another burning issue, join Amnesty supporters and others for this Sunday’s Global Day for Darfur. 

The conflict in Darfur has been raging for five years now. This Sunday Amnesty, Human Rights Watch and other organisations are calling on as many people as possible to take to the streets to call for greater protection of the men, women and children affected by this conflict. 

A report out by Human Rights Watch today highlights how women and girls in the region have suffered extreme sexual violence. Have a read on BBC News Online when you can.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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