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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Vancouver Mayor getting tough on Falun Gong

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

***Look here and here for an update

Dear Friends:

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.


Fax: 604-873-7685; Tel: 604-873-7621

Mailing address: 453 West 12th Ave., Vancouver, B.C. V59 1V4

Related News Articles:

Vancouver Courier: Time to get tough on Falun Gong, says mayor

Epoch Times: Chinese Consulate Protest Display Must Go, Says Vancouver Mayor

Vancouver 24 Hours: Time to dismantle: Sullivan
Falun Gong protest By JOHN PIGEON, 24 HOURS

According to Mayor Sam Sullivan, the Falun Gong protest stationed outside the Chinese consulate has to go.

"I had to be pretty clear that it was a [bylaw] violation and that there is sympathy to the issues of Falun Gong and we wish them well in their efforts to protest," he said.

The bylaw states that no structures may be built on public property.

"There's a lot of issues of public disorder that I think over time my plan is to every couple of months take on a new bylaw that needs attention," he said.

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) says the mayor has overstepped his boundary.

"The city has no rights here. They have a duty and an obligation to conduct themselves according to Charter values," said BCCLA associate policy coordinator Micheal Vonn. "The position of the Falun Gong would be 'the human rights issue hasn't gone away, so why should we?'"

Send your comments:

CBC: Mayor orders Falun Gong to pack up protest sign, hut Vancouver mayor orders Falun Gong to end 5-year consulate protest

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.

News 1130: All new radio: Sullivan tells Falun Gong protesters to pack up

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.

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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."
- - -

A look at a practice that is banned in China.

What: Also known as Falun Dafa, Falun Gong is a spiritual discipline that combines exercises, meditation and a moral philosophy based on truth, compassion and tolerance.

Origins: The Falun Gong has roots in ancient Chinese culture and was first introduced to the public in China in 1992.

About the protest: Practitioners of Falun Gong have been outside the Chinese consulate in Vancouver seven days a week, 24 hours a day for about five years. They are attempting to publicize the persecution of Falun Gong members in China. They say that as of March 2006, more than 2,800 practitioners have died as a result of torture. Members are protesting in other Canadian cities as well, including Toronto where they continue to stand in front of two large wooden signs erected in front of the Chinese consulate.

The Province: Falun Gong told to move along

Victoria Times Colonist: Vancouver mayor demands end of Falun Gong protest

VANCOUVER: 2006.06.09 - Mayor Sam Sullivan has called for the removal of a five-year-old Falun Gong protest structure outside the Chinese Consulate, saying it contravenes a city 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 Friday, 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 sit at the site 24 hours a day to protest what they say is persecution in China.

Metro: Falun Gong Rally puts focus on consulate hut
by Jeff Hodson

Vancouver: 09 June 2006 - Falun Gong practitioners rallied outside city hall yesterday, protesting the city's demands to dismantle a protest hut that has stood outside the Chinese Consulate for the past five years.

While sympathetic to the Falun Gong 's protest, Mayor Sam Sullivan personally intervened to have the hut removed. because it violates a bylaw prohibiting structure from being built on city lands.

Sue Zhang, a Falun Gong practitoner since 1998, accused the Mayor of bowing to political pressure from the Chinese government.

While the Chinese government had appealed to past administrations to have the protesters removed, the mayor was adamant that there was no such pressure.

"I have met with the Chinese consul General and it never came up in conversation...It has nothing to do with the Chinese government, the Chinese consul "Sullivan said.

The group has protested alleged human rights abuses outside the consulate 24 hours a day for the past five years.

The group is still free to protest outside the consulate, Sullivan said.

Additional reports from NTDTV News, Talent TV News, and Global TV.


Anonymous said...

Vancouver's mayor has decided to shut down the structure held in front of the Chinese consulate by the Falun Gong practitioners. This is a really bad decision. I come from Montreal, and many men who frequently take the plane to go to Vancouver have told me how big the Falun Gong peaceful appeal site is.

I have never seen it with my own eyes unfortunately, but I know that as a great democracy, Canada cannot uphold a so-called bylaw to shut down such a powerful structure, shutting down at the same time the voice of those who are brutally persecuted in China, who's organs are harvested while they're still alive.

Vancouver and Canada: take the right stand, remember that one action can
determine a bright or dark future. Don't let the Chinese Communist killers win this battle for Justice, Freedom and Peace.

Saskboy said...

Is this the mayor's way of gaining favour in the country hosting the Olympics just before Vancouver gets them? What's with the suddend crackdowns on peaceful protests in the country? Regina started enforcing a sign bylaw in the Sobeys strike on Albert St. a few weeks ago.

Anonymous said...

now where is jack layton on this.

On side with the commies.

Anonymous said...

No as far as I know they are in full support of Falun Gong. See the clipping below.

Appeal in front of the Office of Member of Parliament

Since Monday, April 10, practitioners in Toronto have appealed and collected signatures in front of the district office of Bill Graham, former Minister of Foreign Ministry and head of the Freedom Party, and the district office of Jack Layton, head of the New Democracy Party. They urged the Canadian Government to stand up to condemn the CCP's atrocities of removing organs from living people in labor camps and start an immediate investigation.

Canadian citizen Michelle Zhang said, "My sister Yunhe Zhang was abducted four years ago by police for practicing Falun Gong and her whereabouts have not been known since then. The police station, labor camps, and prisons all deny her presence. My family worries that she might have been killed or that she faces the danger of organ removal."

A majority of people knowing the truth came forward to sign the petition to urge the MP of their district to put forward a motion in parliament to stop the persecution of Falun Gong. Many people were shocked at the persecution and asked how to help the practitioners.

Ms. Jennifer Story, Assistant of MP Jack Layton and Mr. Bill Graham, secretary of Jack Layton accepted a petition letter and assured practitioners that they would transfer the letter to the MPs.

Anonymous said...

As I understand it some Vancouver Falun Gong practitioners have devoted their time and energy to holding a vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate for their friends, relatives and fellow practitioners in China who are being persecuted, often to a prolonged and painful death. These practitioners have struggled with all kinds of weather and hardship for five years and have been good citizens of Vancouver, but they have erected some shelter from the elements which the mayor wants to tear down.

Some of us believe that what goes around comes around. Perhaps if we fast-forward to the year 2106 we will see a lone figure standing outside in the rain and snow for five years - but no one will recognize him as Vancouver's former Mayor.