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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Tibet freedom torch starts New Zealand leg of voyage in city

June 26, 2008

By SEAN GILLESPIE
The Southland Times (New Zealand)
June 25, 2008

Invercargill kick-started the Tibetan freedom torch relay's New
Zealand leg on Monday with a powhiri and a welcome by Invercargill
Mayor Tim Shadbolt.

The international tour, which parallels the Olympic torch relay and
highlights Tibetan suffering, is in New Zealand for a week before
heading to Taiwan and India.

On its first stop after Mexico, the torch was welcomed on to the
Murihiku marae and blessed by Ngai Tahu kaumatua Michael Skerret.

Friends of Tibet chairman Thuten Kesang said at the marae that Tibet
had been unjustly occupied by China and needed its independence.

"There will be no harmony in China until she solves the issue of
Tibet peacefully." Governments stopped recognising Tibet after the
United States made trade deals with China in the 1970s, he said.

Tibet has been under Chinese control since 1951.

Mr Shadbolt, who helped welcome the torch team at the marae, said he
supported the Tibetan push for freedom.

"They've got their own culture, their own language and their own
identity." The relay will have 10 main stops on its 2000km journey to
Whangarei before flying to Taiwan on Monday.

The relay started in Greece on March 10 and travelled through Europe
and North America before it came to New Zealand.

It will finish at the Tibetan border on August 8 to coincide with the
Olympics' opening day in Beijing.

The Tibetan freedom torch symbolises the hopes and aspirations of the
Tibetan people for freedom and justice and the commitment of people
around the world in helping them achieve those goals.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
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