Pilgrims from all over the world filled the historic Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere in Rome as the quarterly meeting of the Steering Committee of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty was held at the Communità di Sant'Egidio on St. Patrick's Day.
I arrived in Rome on Sunday, after flying overnight from Denver through Munich. It was a long flight, and I still had my cold weather clothes from Colorado, so while I toyed with the idea of the train to town I decided to treat myself to an expensive taxi -- even more expensive this week than last, with the dollar dropping again to historic lows against the Euro. We got into the city from Leonardo da Vinci Airport, but all of the many bridges over the Tevere -- the Tiber River, which runs through Rome -- were blocked by the police and not even a taxi could drive into the Centro. Who but the Romans would schedule a "maratona" foot race along the main streets of a very busy city on Palm Sunday, when there are even more people here than usual?
It was longer than I wanted to walk with my suitcase on cobblestones, so I went to the heart of the Trastevere neighborhood, which was on "my" side of the river, and was rescued, as are many truly lost and homeless souls in Rome, by my friend and colleague Mario Marazziti, from Sant'Egidio, our host for Monday's meeting.
The meeting day was full. Our new Action Plan and Working Group plans were presented and discussed. Chinese human rights lawyer and death penalty abolition activist Teng Biao had been detained by Chinese authorities for two days just over a week earlier, right after WCADP published an interview with him on our website. Steering Committee members had the opportunity to review our response to Teng Biao's detention, and to further discuss our 2008 China Campaign
. This year, with the world focused on China as host of the summer Olympic Games, the World Coalition is focused on China's death penalty. Our Campaign theme is "China 2008 : some records must be broken." China leads the world in death sentences and executions, and we are calling for Chinese legislators to take concrete measures towards the abolition of the death penalty. You can read more about our China 2008 Campaign, and about Teng Biao, on the WCADP website, WorldCoalition.org
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Comment by Nancy, Mar 21st, 2008 4:31pm
Thank you for reporting on the Rome WC meeting and for all of your hard work flying around the world to keep us involved in the international movement to end the death penalty.