International PEN, the parent organization of PEN American Center, recently launched a "virtual demonstration" to raise awareness about freedom of expression in China as protests continue during the twenty-one-nation Olympic torch relay leading up to the Beijing games in August. The international association of writers arranged to have the poem "June" by imprisoned Chinese poet and journalist Shi Tao translated into over sixty languages. The poem is being sent electronically to cities around the world to correspond to the different destinations of the Olympic torch.
Visitors to the International PEN Poem Relay's Web site can track the poem's progress and read and hear new translations of the poem as it arrives in each new city. It is due to arrive today at PEN Centers in Mexico. The relay will end in Beijing prior to the games on August 8.
Despite anti-Chinese protests that have followed torchbearers since the worldwide Olympic torch tour began in Greece on March 24—the route through San Francisco was diverted yesterday to avoid thousands of protesters—Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee, said today that the relay tour will not be cut short.