Aldermen approve China protest

As activists worldwide are stepping up their criticism of China in the run-up to this summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing, the New Haven Board of Aldermen voted unanimously Monday night to approve street closures for an April 26 protest of China’s alleged human-rights violations that will temporarily shut down several streets around the New Haven Green.

The protest — which will involve a rally on the Green until the procession with the mock Olympic torch arrives — is meant to highlight opposition to China’s reported human-rights violations in Tibet and Darfur, as well as alleged violence toward the religious minority group Falun Gong.

Alderwoman Frances T. Clark, pictured here in a March 24 meeting, introduced a unanimously-passed resolution yesterday for a protest around the Green against China’s alleged human-rights violations.
Ge Yang
Alderwoman Frances T. Clark, pictured here in a March 24 meeting, introduced a unanimously-passed resolution yesterday for a protest around the Green against China’s alleged human-rights violations.

Ward 7 Alderwoman Frances “Bitsie” Clark, who introduced the resolution at last night’s meeting, said she has seen overwhelming support from the community for the Human Rights Torch Relay, a global human-rights group that has carried a flame from Athens, Greece through Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and the United States since August 2007. The Human Rights Torch, which the group carries, will stop in Providence, R.I., Portsmouth, N.H., and Portland, Maine before arriving in New Haven.

“It’s all very fascinating, this whole business with China and the Tibetans,” Clark said in reference to recent uprisings in the Tibetan region of China. “I think people here are very sympathetic to this cause.”

Clark said that when she was first contacted about the possibility of a rally by Yale’s Falun Gong Club — which is coordinating with Human Rights Torch Relay to organize the protest — she was hesitant about supporting the idea because it would require closing Chapel Street between York and College streets, which could harm local businesses.

But once she discovered that the procession would last only 15 minutes and realized it would not be necessary to close off the streets for the entire afternoon, Clark said she was more confident in her ability to win the blessing of local business owners.

Clark said all the Chapel St. merchants she spoke with were “delighted” by the prospect of the Human Rights Torch procession.

After Clark pitched the proposal — passage required a vote by the full board because street closures were involved — Ward 14 Alderwoman Erin Sturgis-Pascale insisted that the aldermen conduct a roll-call vote, the only one in a night that featured quick approvals of commissioner appointments. All 30 aldermen voted to approve the street closures.

Jianjiang Ye, an associate research scientist at the Yale School of Medicine who is involved in efforts to raise awareness of China’s human-rights record, said after the meeting that the leaders of his country made a promise to improve their human-rights reputation before the 2008 Olympics. But by continuing to mistreat religions groups and human-rights lawyers, the Chinese government has broken that promise, he said.

“The Olympics and human-rights violations should not exist in the same place,” Ye said. “We can use this chance to make China a better place.”

Ye said he expects anywhere from 100 to 150 Yale students and New Haven residents to attend the rally, which will feature speeches and a Chinese marching band.

“The beauty of this country is that people here are not selfish,” Ye said. “They not only enjoy freedom here, but they also support freedom in China.”

Also at Monday’s meeting, the Board of Aldermen presented honorary citations to the Hill Regional Career High School girl’s basketball team for its victory at the state championship, as well as to Southern Connecticut University’s Environmental Futurists Club for its work to improve the pond at Beaver Pond Park.

The Board of Aldermen will next meet April 22.


  • Nick

    It's so funny to see an alderwoman being taken advantage of by Falun Gong practioners for their own political retaliation against Communist Party.

  • GHT

    Overwhelming support from the community? What did she receive? Two phone calls from Yale Students and the usual gang of " we'll protest anything" groups in New Haven. I seriously doubt the majority of the community even care. They're too busy trying to pay thier bills. But they will care when the protestors block the streets and make thier commute a nightmare.

  • Shen yan

    As a native of China I always hope that China can be a better place. I admire the alderwoman who speaks up for freedom. It has nothing to do with politics, it's about humanity.

  • Yi Wei

    Whoever against the Communist party must be good people.

  • Nick

    Oh of course it has nothing to do with politics. Because if people find out (and they will, just like the freaking New Year Splendor Show) that it's all about politics they would not bother to come to fight for Falun Gong's selfish agenda.

  • Karen

    I am so happy that the Town of New Haven is allowing this event. It is important for people to know about the human rights abuses that are currently taking place in China and this is the perfect venue.

  • k

    Come on, it is the time for a Iraq protest. Hypocrite everywhere

  • sickofu

    "Whoever against the Communist party must be good people."

    You are so naive and ridiculous!

    I'm against Communist party, and against Falun Gong either! Am I a good person?

  • Katie

    I had a great time in Tibet for 3 months. The majority of people there enjoy a peaceful and prosperious life after some small group of noble class is out of the game. It is so funny to hear people who has no idea where Tibet physically is wasting that much time boasting. Come on, just visit Tibet sometime and give more tips to boost the economy there~

  • tofunoodle

    There are many cases of human rights violation in China. Please remove the word "alledged" from the report. Overseas Chinese students need to be aware of the seamy side which they might not have had the opportunity or courage to discover.

  • Jay

    Every Coutry has the seamy side, so does China. But what these people claimed is not really human right problems. How could a human right advocate tell his supporters to burn themselves in public and never go to the hospital?