Clive Ansley, a lawyer for the Falun Gong, said the group believes the city's order is unconstitutional because it violates its charter rights.
"This is a matter of freedom of expression and freedom of speech," he said.
By: Reshmi Nair
News 1130: June 16, 2006 - Both sides involved in the Falun Gong protest in Vancouver are now weighing out their options now that the city's deadline to remove the site has come and gone. Since the protest hasn't stopped, this issue could be heading to court. Tom Timm with the City of Vancouver says nothing is going to be happening immediately as city staff need to meet with lawyers to decide what course of enforcement action they'll take and that probably won't happen before Tuesday. Clive Ansley, the lawyer representing the Falun Gong practitioners, says there's only one thing that will stop this protest: the end to what he calls the mass murder and torture campaign being waged by the Chinese government. Ansley says the protestors will obey a court order, but he doubts the city will be able to obtain one.
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Voices of support:
Province: Falun Gong responds
Province: 21 June 2006 - When I returned to Canada after 14 years in the Chinese police state, the Falun Gong signs on Granville Street were a sight for sore eyes rather than an eyesore.
To echo your editorial writer, we all have our annoyances.
I get very annoyed by little things like genocide, mass executions of people condemned through judicial travesty, involuntary organ harvesting and the routine use of torture.
I was also extremely annoyed at the Tiananmen Square massacre.
But, of course, Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan is right to insist the signs be removed. He is just demonstrating the tolerance for which Canada is renowned.
Under extreme provocation, he is extending the olive branch of tolerance to the perpetrators of genocide.
He has effectively told the Chinese government: "We do indeed understand that the lives of mass murderers and torturers are seldom easy and, in the spirit of friendship, we are happy to assist you in stifling the voices of Canadian victims, which so embarrasses you."
And The Province is wrong to state that the Falun Gong have been allowed for too long to ignore city bylaws prohibiting the erection of structures on public property.
That is the mayor's song. And, in the near future, we will demonstrate that the practitioners have at all times been in compliance.
Clive Ansley, Falun Gong Legal Counsel
Letter from Fred Muzin, President of the Hospital Employees’ Union
Dear Mayor Sullivan:
Your recent action to enforce the city by-law and order the removal of the Falun Gong shelter in front of the Chinese embassy on Granville St. is extremely distressing.
Personally and as the President of the Hospital Employees’ Union, I have supported this peaceful group in opposing the blatant human rights violations of the Chinese government. The Falun Gong practitioners are extremely committed to the principles of Truth, Justice and Forbearance, despite being confronted with persecution, murder, unauthorized human organ transplants in China and surveillance and intimidation by Chinese government agents and some controlled media in foreign countries such as Canada.
Canada has a long standing reputation for fairness and advocacy for human rights. Certainly Vancouver, prides itself on diversity, with our large multicultural communities being a strength and an example to others as to how we can work together to support Canadian values.
The Falun Gong shelter on Granville has been in place for four years, with no groundswell of opposition and has not been disruptive to the city. Vancouverites support the ability for peaceful protest – it is fundamental to democracy – and a civic duty to keep governments accountable for their actions.
Your instructions, whether intentional or not, sends a clear signal to the Chinese regime that we are abandoning our Chinese community in their struggle for justice and dignity.
Please reconsider this deplorable decision.
From China e-Lobby
A letter from Charles Lee, an American citizen and practitioner of Falun Gong who was tortured for his belief.
Dear Mayor Sullivan:
I am the direct victim of the Chinese Communist Party's brutal dictatorial regime, and I have suffered three years of inhuman torture and brainwashing.
It is up to our conscience to have a heart for those innocent people under the persecution by the CCP. The protest beside the Chinese Consulate is one of the good ways to help stop the persecution. To dismantle it would definitely mean to be subdued to the pressures from the CCP.
When the CCP still exerts its evil power mainly on Chinese people in China, we should have a chance to stop it and save the world to be consumed by this communist cancer. If we sit around doing nothing now, it will eventually get you, one way or the other.
Even if there is a bylaw that is conflicting with the protest site, we should change the law instead of ordering these people to leave, because this is really what democracy and human value means.
Charles Lee, New Jersey, USA
The Vancouver Question was vigorously discussed on these blogs:
Two favourite pieces:
Democracy sometimes isn't pretty, Mr. Mayor: Sullivan has heightened vantage of mayor's chair but can't see beyond the limit of his little laws by Pete McMartin
Vancouver Sun: 16 June 2006 - It is the habit of Sam Sullivan, Vancouver's vague and boyish mayor, to explain how being in a wheelchair has informed many things in his life, from his take on crack addicts and sex workers, to welfare assistance and living in poverty. Sullivan -- and I loosely paraphrase another idiosyncratic leader who I never had much time for, either -- feels the downtrodden's pain, having felt it himself.
But Sullivan sits in another chair now, the mayor's. And the altitude change must have gone to his head because it was from that chair's lofty heights that Sullivan declared he was cleaning up the litter on our streets, namely, the Falun Gong.
Enough was enough, he declared. After five years of keeping vigil outside the Chinese consulate-general, and meditating like statues in their little shack, the Falun Gong had to go. Sullivan was going to make Granville Street safe for, well, if not democracy, then for . . . um . . . pedestrians! And motorists! Who were put off by posters and Chinese people weirdly meditating on the sidewalk!
If you are a journalist in this town, you should be intimately accustomed to the Falun Gong, since they send out e-mails about every five minutes decrying their persecution by the Chinese government. It is a curse to be on their mailing list.
But they are also harmless, and their message is always on point, which is:
We are being persecuted, tortured and incarcerated by the Chinese government for our beliefs.
Not: We want to bring down the Chinese government.
Not: We wish to embarrass the Chinese government.
Just: Could the Chinese government please stop persecuting us?
The Chinese government, and I use the term loosely, labels the Falun Gong a "sect," which is doublespeak for "loony." This is a wonderful irony, coming from a business-suited thug-ocracy whose military leaders casually discuss in public the possibility of a nuclear exchange with the U.S., and then just as casually calculate how many of their own citizens they might lose in such an exchange -- the weight of numbers being on their side, of course.
This is also the Chinese government whose own way of dealing with litter is sweeping it away with tanks and AK-47s. Tiananmen Square is spotless today. No weird meditators or posters there, much to the relief of pedestrians.
Sullivan's impulses aren't as savage, of course, but more firmly rooted in law. That is, he only wishes to apply the law equally and across the board, as banal and utilitarian as the law may be. It is that very banality that demands the removal of the Falun Gong.
Why, they've built their shack on public property! Technically, they're littering! The same law would be -- nay, must be -- applied to helmetless bicycle riders, False Creek boat squatters, reckless users of noisy weed-whackers, the wanton discarders of candy bar wrappers, etc., etc., etc. -- in other words, The Nitpick Level of Law Enforcement. Sullivan wants to clean up Vancouver, literally. So why should the Falun Gong be allowed to maintain what one newspaper editorial bravely called an "eyesore" in front of the Chinese consulate-general?
Well, for one thing, one could argue, sometimes democracy isn't pretty. It can be hard on the eyes. For another thing, a democratic government committed to encouraging democratic impulses should sometimes let its moral compass dictate its actions, not the frigging letter of the law.
Nor, it could also be argued, should those democratic impulses come with past-due dates. Five years? One thinks of the early Christians, and those centuries of their being led off to the Colosseum for lion feed. Or the civil rights protesters in the U.S. who, it should be noted, were breaking the law of the land at the time. It took more than five years for them to get to the front of the bus. And as I remember, there were actually some people in the U.S. federal government who were on their side. They saw the big picture.
Sullivan? More of a detail man, I guess. Who might have bought crack for an addict and given money to sex trade workers but will keep your streets clear of dangerous shacks.
Who knows littering when he sees it, but not purpose.
Who has the heightened vantage of the mayor's chair, but can't see beyond the limit of his pitiful little laws.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-605-2905
See no evil
VANCOUVER North Shore News - 16 June 2006 - Mayor Sam Sullivan's decision this week to remove the long-standing Falun Gong protest shelter on Granville Street is disturbing not for what it means to one small protest, but for what it symbolizes in terms of our country's attitude as a whole.
By dismantling the structure - which has caused little trouble in the five years it has been there - for violating city bylaws, Sullivan is demonstrating that he puts aesthetics above larger issues.
His attitude, sadly, is reflective of that held by our nation as a whole.
China's habitual violation of civil and human rights is no secret. But while our country loudly criticizes the abuses of other, smaller powers, we remain markedly silent about the behaviour of the rising giant across the Pacific.
Vancouver's planned port expansion is testament to the eagerness with which we are embracing our new friendship.
And the Falun Gong protest, with its rickety structure and unsightly posters, is an uncomfortable reminder of what we are ignoring about our new friend. By effectively shutting the protest down, we are allowing ourselves to hide from an unpleasant truth: when we have nothing invested in another nation, we quite happily call out its every misstep, but when a nation is closely tied to our own economic well-being, we are much more hesitant to criticize.
That the Falun Gong images and the protest shelter are offensive should not be of real concern to us. And it should not be of concern to Vancouver's mayor.
Rather, it is when these things cease to offend that we should begin to worry in earnest.
Letters to the Editor:
Thank you, Jonathan Fowlie, for your insightful coverage of Mayor Sam Sullivan's plans to remove the Falun Gong protest site.
Ironically, I think that two recent articles appearing in The Sun are related to the mayor's "personal decision" to disband the site. The first article said that Beijing has been holding off on granting Canada "approved destination status," which would effectively double the number of Chinese tourists visiting Vancouver. The second article said that British Columbia has signed an agreement with Beijing to facilitate trade missions.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that closing the Falun Gong site would be one of the hoops the city has to jump through to be granted approved destination status. And last week Sullivan leapt through this hoop.
The Chinese Communist Party is scared to death that the genocide being committed against the Falun Gong will be fully revealed. Part of the propaganda passed off as news in China is that the Falun Gong is banned all over the world. It is troublesome for the communist government when mainland Chinese come here and see that not only is Falun Gong legal, but that our governments actually allow peaceful appeals -- even in front of Chinese consulates. What a loss of face for the regime.
The truth is that Sullivan has simply fallen into the same pit that most politicians and businessmen fall into when they do business with the leaders of this brutal dictatorship. The communists are only too aware of the weaknesses of mankind. Our desire for power and financial gain creates a propensity to sell our souls for profit. In this case, we are complicit with a genocide of a group of gentle and innocent people. I hope Sullivan will wake up soon to the need to protect our Canadian values, and will stand up to an oppressive regime issuing orders to our free country.
Why not ask the Chinese communist regime to stop persecuting the Falun Gong and respect life in order to do business with us?
Joan's letters also published...
Voice of the People
Letter writer xxx is mistaken. It's the Chinese communist regime that spreads hate, not the Falun Gong.
When Chinese government officials started their vicious persecution of the meditation practice seven years ago, they used their powerful propaganda machine to spread lies and misinformation about the Falun Gong, not only in China but around the world. That's their way of justifying the persecution. It's too bad that people like xxx have fallen for it.
Mayor should resist China pressure
TC 20 June 2006 - In an attempt to call attention to the vicious persecution of their family
members and fellow practitioners in China, Vancouver Falun Gong practitioners began a constant 24/7 vigil outside the Chinese Consulate five years ago. While this effort probably hasn't lessened the persecution in anyway, it has had the effect of embarrassing the dictatorship in Beijing, and as such it should remain.
Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan's sudden decision to oust the protesters has little to do with a bylaw and everything to do with pressure from the consulate. It's well-known that previous Vancouver mayors stood their ground against such pressure.
So were mine or at least a portion of it leaving out the main part - that is - the Consulate is behind Sullivan's motivation to crackdown on Falun Gong through this fake bylaw campaign...
Mayor should focus energy elsewhere
Why did Mayor Sam Sullivan ask Falun Gong to pack up?
Mayor should allow Falun Gong Protest--He should honour the permission granted to the group by the previous administration five years ago.
Invitation: Sit by our side
Today, Friday the 16th, Falun Gong practitioners are holding a peaceful appeal in front of the Vancouver Chinese Consulate on Granville. Please come and sit by our side.
Sit by my side
Closing your eyes
Together in silence
We call for
The end of torturing
The end of killing
The end of the persecution
Compassion grows in our hearts
Together in silence
Our wishes can make a difference
This poem was translated into many languages and appeared beside Falun Gong practitioners holding peaceful appeals in front of Chinese embassies and consulates around the world.
Over five years ago, not long after Jiang Zemin's faction and the Chinese Communist Party started the persecution of Falun Gong, Falun Gong practitioners have continuously appeared in front of Chinese embassies and consulates in several countries. They meditate, practice the Falun Gong exercises, or distribute flyers to passers-by to clarify the truth about Falun Gong and the persecution in China.
More than five years have passed, and more and more people have joined us. Our peaceful sit-in protests have extended to Chinese embassies and consulates in dozens of countries across four continents. Those who come to appeal are from all over the world and from all ages. Out of a sense of conscience and following the principles of Truthfulness,Compassion and Forbearance, we gather voluntarily in front of Chinese embassies or consulates after work or school and appeal to the Chinese regime to stop the persecution of Falun Gong.
Whether in cold weather with snow or during the hot summer with temperature soaring, people see the practitioners continue their peaceful appeal. We come to the Chinese consulate not for ourselves, but so that other people,including the staff working in the consulate, can come to know the facts of the persecution. Our goal is to end this persecution that is based only on lies, fabrications,torture and threats and enticement, which involves the whole Chinese population.
We appeal in front of consulate is not because we oppose China, but on the contrary, because we love China. We see that those who claim to represent the Chinese people's interests instead kill Chinese people and damage morality and humanity in their persecution of Falun Gong practitioners who follow Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance.
Passers-by change from apathy to understanding, offering support and expressing respect. Over the course of the days and nights in front of the Chinese consulate, Western and Chinese people have stopped to see the poster boards and catch news that was not covered by media in China. Those who learned the truth asked for more literature to give to their friends, and some have even started to practice Falun Gong.
"Please sit by our side, please sit by our side, together in silence, together we call for the end of torturing, the end of killing." The torturing and killing have been going on for more than five years. Nevertheless, we uphold goodness, we are still appealing to all kind-hearted people with uncompromising courage. Through our more than five-year silent persistence, we have expressed our heart-felt faith. Although the evil may act violently for a while, the dark cloud will not block the sun forever and the viciousness will not shut out the brightness of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. The day will eventually come when the evil in the human world is completely cleansed by the force of Truth, Compassion, and Forbearance.