Appeal to Kind-hearted People
Support Falun Gong Peaceful 24-hour Appeal Site
in front of the Vancouver Chinese Consulate
Add Your Voice to Call “Stop Killing!” by signing the Petition
On June 8, Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan ordered local Falun Gong practitioners to dismantle the appeal site they've maintained outside the Chinese Consulate 24/7, rain or shine, for the past five years. Mayor Sullivan said the group's signs and booth erected by the consulate contravene a city bylaw.
The Falun Gong practitioners say they were initially given verbal permission to hold a constant vigil at the site in order to raise awareness of the persecution against Falun Gong in China, now in its seventh year. They say the site bears witness to the thousands of practitioners who have been tortured and killed as a result of the persecution, and believe they should be allowed to remain until the persecution comes to an end.
I'm writing to ask for your support by signing the online petition. It would also be very helpful and much appreciated if you would write a letter to Mayor Sullivan asking him to re-think his stance on the bylaw, as the site is not a safety hazard, and previous city councils were not averse to it.
Send your letter of support to the Mayor and Council by Friday, June 16, 2006. You don't need to be from Vancouver to support this effort.
Mailing address: 453 West 12th Ave., Vancouver, B.C. V59 1V4
Related News Articles:
Vancouver 24 Hours: Time to dismantle: Sullivan
Falun Gong protest By JOHN PIGEON, 24 HOURS
Fri Jun 09, 11:50 AM - Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan has set a deadline for Falun Gong protesters to remove their protest wall from the sidewalk in front of the Chinese Consulate.
The group has erected a wall of photographs of its members who they say have been tortured by the Chinese government.
The group has also maintained an around-the-clock vigil in a small booth built on the sidewalk as part of the protest, which has been going on for the past five years.
The mayor said the group has until June 19 to take down the structures, as they contravene city bylaws. If they're not removed, the city will move in.
"I have expressed to the Falun Gong that I respect their issues with human rights, but I have told them that I expect them to adhere to the bylaws the way any other citizens would."
That prompted a demonstration by a group of Falun Gong practitioners at Vancouver City Hall on Thursday.
Micheal Vonn of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association says it's not up to the mayor to decide when a protest has gone on long enough.
"The mayor doesn't get to say when citizens have finished expressing themselves," she said. "Certainly, the position of the Falun Gong would be the human rights issue hasn't gone away, and why should we."
The group said it's not going away, and intends to maintain the vigil outside the consulate until the persecution in China comes to an end.
The Falun Gong spiritual movement was first introduced to the public in 1992, and now has an estimated 70 million practitioners in China.
It has been outlawed by the Chinese government, and the group says followers in China have been persecuted, with more than 2,800 people tortured to death.
By: Claudia Kwan
June 08, 2006 - 2:31 pm - If you've driven past Granville and 16th in the past five years, you've seen them around the clock: Falun Gong practitioners protesting outside the Chinese consulate. Now, they say their right to protest is being affected by Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan. The mayor has personally intervened in what he's calling a bylaw issue. An enforcement order is now up at the protest site, ordering the removal of a hut which he says has been built on public property. The Falun Gong practitioners have been given until noon next Friday to comply. The question becomes why now, and whether this is motivated by political pressure. Sullivan insists it's all about being equal with the way bylaws are enforced. The mayor admits this is a delicate situation and says he does sympathize with the Falun Gong cause. He says they will still be allowed to picket. Protesters say removal of the hut will seriously affect their ability to continue their protest 24 hours 7 days a week, and they say they've been ambushed by this order. They are vowing to check out all their legal options before they comply. Sullivan refused to say what would happen if the hut isn't down by the deadline.
Vancouver Sun: Mayor orders Falun Gong hut removed: Structure and sign outside Chinese consulate 'contravene bylaw'
Byline: Jonathan Fowlie, with a file from Frances Bula
Ward Perrin, Vancouver Sun
BYLAW CRACKDOWN COULD END UP IN COURT: Falun Gong supporters line 12th Avenue outside of city hall to protest against removal of structures at the Chinese consulate.
Friday, June 9, 2006 - Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan has called for removal of a five-year-old Falun Gong protest structure outside the Chinese consulate, saying it contravenes a bylaw and must be taken down as soon as possible.
"We claim to be a nation that lives by the rule of law and if we want to be serious about that we have to enforce our bylaws equally," Sullivan said at a news conference Thursday.
"Nobody is allowed to build structures on public property and this is public property."Sullivan said that on Thursday morning, city staff posted an order on the large blue billboards and hut attached to the fence outside the Chinese consulate on Granville Street near 16th Avenue, demanding the entire structure be removed by noon on June 16.
Signed by city engineering manager Tom Timm, the order says the structures "encroach upon and obstruct the free use of the street and are illegal."Practitioners of Falun Gong are at the site 24 hours a day to protest what they say is China's persecution of followers. On Thursday, a sign at the site said members have been holding constant vigil for 1,754 days.Reacting to news of the order on Thursday, Falun Gong practitioners and other supporters gathered outside city hall to voice their opposition.
"The signs are not just signs. They are the voice of people and the image of people being persecuted," said Mansour Sedighi, who helped found the display in July 2001."This is how we can tell people what's going on -- the only thing we have," he added.
Micheal Vonn of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association said she believes
Sullivan's decision was politically motivated and called on him to change his mind.
"It is a grand day for democracy when the mayor of Vancouver invokes the rule of law to shut down a peaceful protest against genocide," she said.
"This has been a five-year-long peaceful protest that the mayor is now
saying is illegal because he won't issue a permit to allow it to continue."
Sullivan said the protest display has always contravened a city bylaw and he is moving on the issue now because it is finally within his power to do so.
"I'm the mayor now. I was sympathetic to them [when it went up] and I still am, but now that I'm the mayor I believe it's my role to ensure that our bylaws actually have meaning and that they are equally maintained by all groups," he said.
Former mayor Larry Campbell said on Thursday he agrees the Falun Gong installation violates the bylaw but he doesn't see a need to take it down.
"If Sam takes that down, they will be back every single day," Campbell said from Ottawa, where he is a senator.
"I agree that it is an infraction of the bylaw, but is this the best use of
our police resources? There's bylaws being broken in this city every day."
Campbell said he was approached by the Chinese consulate on the issue during his time in office, but he never saw a reason to act. He said he doesn't necessarily agree with the protest.
At his news conference, Sullivan said he would have no problem with further protests at the site as long as the signs and hut came down. He also made it clear that his decision had no basis in politics, and that he was in no way influenced by the Chinese government or consul.
The mayor added this will not be an isolated case, and that he intends to personally tackle other bylaw infractions in future. "My plan is to every couple of months take on a new bylaw that I think needs attention," he said.
In an interview Thursday, Falun Gong lawyer Clive Ansley said he thinks Sullivan's decision goes beyond dutiful adherence to bylaw enforcement and is likely politically motivated."If you believe [Sullivan's explanation] you probably believe in the tooth fairy as well. I think he is being a bit economical with the truth," he said.
Ansley said he believes the city is acting in "bad faith" and that it should issue a permit to allow the structure to remain. He said he would like to negotiate a solution with Sullivan, but is willing to go to court. If it comes to that, he said, he believes Falun Gong will win.
"If [Sullivan] wants to make it a legal issue, then I think the law is quite clear that when it comes to permits, you can't exercise discretion in bad faith."
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BANNED IN CHINA