Signatures for the Amnesty International petition campaign, ‘Gold for Human Rights’ will be collected along the route, which passes through 25 German towns and cities, deliberately imitating the Olympic torch relay.
The initiative has been started by 25 regional Amnesty groups, which are planning a special ceremony when the torch arrives in Berlin on July 17 after finishing its cross-country journey which starts in Freiburg.
The Amnesty petition calls upon the Chinese government to remember the promises it made to improve its human rights record when it was awarded the right to hold the Olympics.
It calls for the death penalty to be outlawed, for fair court trials, removal of media and internet censorship and for a halt to the persecution of human rights activists. The petition can be signed online at www.goldfuermenschenrechte.de
The official Olympic torch has arrived on Chinese soil after being accompanied by protests, some violent, during much of its progress round the world.
German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has called for the International Olympic Committee to lay down clear rules over political statements made by competing athletes during the games.
He told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that the right of free express was to be protected, but pointed out that the Olympic charter bans political statements during competition.
The IOC, he said, must lay down, “what athletes can and cannot do, in order to avoid breaking the rules of the IOC.”