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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Brutal Torture and Disappearance of Renowned Attorney Demands a Clear International Response

World Leaders Must Call for Release of Gao Zhisheng, End to Falun Gong Persecution

FDIC: NEW YORK – Chinese security forces’ severe torture and disappearance of leading human rights lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Gao Zhisheng highlights the life-threatening danger facing Falun Gong adherents and those who come to their defense in China and must prompt a strong international response, the Falun Dafa Information Center said Thursday.

“Gao Zhisheng has repeatedly risked his life to stand up against injustice. He has been abducted and tortured largely for defending Falun Gong adherents publicly, exposing the atrocities they have suffered and calling upon the regime's leadership to end its campaign against this large group of ordinary Chinese seeking to practice their faith in peace,” says Falun Dafa Information Center spokesman Erping Zhang.

“His horrific treatment for doing so should be a wake-up call to the international community of the Chinese regime’s disregard for human rights and the rule of law. Gao’s case shows clearly that absent international pressure with teeth, China’s leaders cannot be depended upon to uphold the basic dignity and rights of their own people.”

Gao Zhisheng, a Chinese rights lawyer featured on the front page of the New York Times in 2005 and listed among the top three candidates for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize, relayed the brutal torture he suffered in police custody in 2007 in a statement released on his behalf on Monday and published by the China Aid Association and Human Rights in China. (statement)

Several days before the letter was made public, on Feb. 4, Gao was again abducted by Chinese authorities. His current whereabouts remain unknown and he is at severe risk of torture.

Torture Account

In the statement released Monday, Gao describes the treatment at the hands of Chinese security agents after he was abducted on September 21, 2007 for writing a letter to the U.S. Congress detailing abuses surrounding preparation for the Olympic games.

Gao describes in great detail being stripped naked, thrown to a concrete floor where several officials beat him and shocked him with electric batons all over his body, including on his genitals and in his mouth. On other occasions, Gao was pinned down while torturers pierced his genitals with sharp objects. During the abuse, his torturers repeatedly linked his treatment to that of Falun Gong, whose persecution he is known for publicly condemning:

“The 12 courses [of torture techniques] we're going to give to you were practiced on the Falun Gong,” Gao recounts one torturer named Wang saying. “We can torture you to death without your body being found.”

The torture lasted for 50 days. Gao says he was threatened that if he were to reveal the torture he had suffered, he would be abducted again and tortured in front of his wife and small children.

Gao was eventually moved to a regular prison cell where several officials suggested that he write articles attacking Falun Gong and praising the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and that he could "charge whatever you want," implying the government would pay him large sums of money to do so. Gao refused.

International Appeal

Gao’s letter closes with a few thoughts directed at foreign governments and his fellow citizens: “Finally, I want to say a few words which won’t be liked by some folks. I want to remind those so-called global 'good friends', 'good partners' called by the CCP that the increasing degree of brutality and coldness against the Chinese people by the CCP is the direct result of appeasement by both you and us (our own Chinese people).”

China watchers frequently point to economic and political relationships with the Chinese regime and suggest that taking a strong stance on cases such as Gao’s or Falun Gong may damage the advancement of interests in other areas such as the economy, energy and the war on terror.

Zhang, however, says such views are shortsighted. “Free countries have never really benefited from appeasing nations ruled by tyranny,” says Zhang. “In the end, it always comes back to haunt us, and often in the worst of ways. The best partner for the international community would be a China in which decent, courageous individuals like Gao Zhisheng are honored, not tortured.”

“The decision to detain and torture such a high-profile figure could only originate near the top on the Chinese regime’s hierarchy. The Chinese leadership clearly evaluated the pluses and minuses of doing this to Gao and determined they could take these actions with relative impunity. It is time for the international community to tilt the balance of that cost-benefit analysis with a strong response.”

The Falun Dafa Information Center calls for:

  • The Chinese regime to immediately and unconditionally release Gao Zhisheng.
  • President Barack Obama and other world leaders to make a personal, public appeal to the Chinese authorities to release Gao.
  • The United States and other nations to take an unequivocal and public stance against the persecution of Falun Gong in China, which has further escalated recently. (news)

Additional background on Gao Zhisheng:

Beginning in 2004, Gao, a devout Christian, was the first of China's high-profile human rights attorneys to speak publicly against the persecution of Falun Gong. Gao also authored several open letters to Chinese leaders (letter 1 / letter 2 / letter 3) as well as the U.S. Congress (letter) detailing his own investigation into atrocities against Falun Gong. In 2007, Gao published a book, A China More Just, detailing his life and work defending a gamut of China's vulnerable groups.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Matas/Kilgour condemn China for rejecting UN UPR recommendations

News Release
For Immediate Release

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Matas/Kilgour condemn China for rejecting UN UPR recommendations

February 11, 2009 - David Matas and David Kilgour expressed regret that China has chosen to reject so quickly so many basic recommendations made in the report of the United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, released today. David Matas stated:

"We are dismayed China has chosen systematically to reject those recommendations which would prevent the killing of Falun Gong practitioners for their organs to be used in transplants and which would make possible the bringing to justice any perpetrators of this abuse."

Matas and Kilgour condemned the Government of China for its refusal (Report paragraph 117) to support the UPR recommendations to:

1. guarantee all citizens of China the exercise of religious freedom, freedom of belief and freedom of worshipping in private [paragraph 43(h)]. As Canada in its statement to the Working Group noted, respect for this freedom includes respecting the freedom of belief of the Falun Gong;

2. publish death penalty statistics [paragraph 28(c), 31(b), 42(b), 56(c), 86(b), 96(a)]. As the UN rapporteur on torture Manfred Nowak and UN rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Asma Jahangir have both pointed out, the provision of these statistics is necessary to determine if any explanation can be given for the discrepancy in the number of transplants between the years 2000 to 2005 and the numbers from identifiable sources of organs for transplants other than Falun Gong practitioners.

3. abolish all forms of arbitrary detention [paragraphs 28(d), 43(a), 82(e), 92(c)]. The detention of large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners without charge and without information about their location facilitates their abuse.

4. implement the recommendations of the Committee against Torture of November 2008 [paragraph 28(g)]. The Committee had recommended that China conduct or commission an independent investigation of the claims that some Falun Gong practitioners have been subjected to torture and used for organ transplants and take measures, as appropriate, to ensure that those responsible for such abuses are prosecuted and punished,

5. take effective measures to ensure that lawyers can defend their clients without fear of harassment [paragraph 79(a)]. Lawyer Gao Zhisheng who has defended Falun Gong clients has been tortured and disappeared. He was released briefly last week and, after he released a statement about his torture, was rearrested.

David Matas and David Kilgour are co-authors of the report "Bloody Harvest: Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China" released in revised form in January 2007. David Kilgour is a former Minister of State for Asia an the Pacific in the Government Canada. David Matas is an international human rights lawyer based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; he attended the fourth session of the United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review February 2 - 13, 2009 in Geneva.

For further information contact David Matas at or 001-204-944-1831

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Fueled by Olympics, Falun Gong Persecution Escalated Sharply in 2008: Report


Falun Dafa Information Center Issues 2008 Annual Report as UN Rights Body Finalizes China Review

FDAC: New York – The Communist Party’s campaign against Falun Gong escalated sharply in 2008 as China’s rulers took advantage of the Olympic games to catalyze and justify the large-scale arrest, imprisonment, and monitoring of Chinese citizens known to adhere to the spiritual practice, the Falun Dafa Information Center said in an annual report published on Tuesday. (Executive Summary / Full Report)

As the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) continues its review of China’s rights record this week, the Center called on the international community to publicly condemn the 2008 crackdown and take measures to prevent such abuses in the future.

“Rather than being a vehicle for improved human rights, the 2008 Olympics was a catalyst for worse persecution – not only before the games, but also after their conclusion, as an increasing number of innocent people are being sentenced to labor camps and prisons for up to 13 years,” said Falun Dafa Information Center spokesman Epring Zhang. “The Chinese regime essentially used the heightened security surrounding the games to further its own decade-long agenda of ’eradicating Falun Gong.’”

The report documents a variety of rights violations against Falun Gong adherents, both inside and outside China, that occurred in 2008. It draws on a wide range of sources including first-hand accounts from practitioners, their families, and human rights lawyers, Chinese government websites, foreign media reports, research by Amnesty International, and a thorough study by the Congressional Executive Commission on China.

The report’s key findings were:

  • There was a clear and sharp escalation in the campaign against Falun Gong adherents throughout 2008.
  • The escalation began prior to the Olympic games with door-to-door searches by security agents, increased surveillance, detentions, and deaths is custody. In the immediate aftermath of the games, there was an increase in sentencing, particularly to long prison terms, of individuals who had been held in pre-trial detention for months.
  • The increased persecution was nationwide and top-down: While large numbers of adherents were detained, harassed, and tortured in Beijing and other cities hosting Olympics venues, reports of abuse and official directives to target Falun Gong—particularly from the central 610 Office to its subsidiaries—emerged across the country. One of the deadliest provinces was Heilongjiang, which hosted no Olympic events.
  • In total, the Center received reports of over 8,000 practitioners having been detained in 2008 and 104 dying as a result of persecution—in many cases within weeks, days, or even hours of being taken into custody.
  • Falun Gong adherents continued to make up a significant percentage of detainees in “re-education through labor” camps and in prisons, making them the country’s largest population of prisoners of conscience.
  • Once detained, it remained commonplace for adherents to be subjected to severe torture—including sexual abuse and shocks with electric batons—to force them to disavow their faith.
  • Throughout the year, a small group of approximately 20 lawyers continued to defend Falun Gong adherents, despite Party directives banning such action. Many of them faced harassment, monitoring, disbarment, and even detention or torture at the hands of the authorities.
  • Falun Gong remained one of the most taboo topics of coverage for both Chinese and foreign news organizations reporting from China in 2008, with its websites blocked for the full duration of the Olympics. In at least one well-documented case, an adherent was sentenced to prison simply for downloading and circulating Falun Gong-related information from the Internet.

”For years, Falun Gong practitioners have been the largest population of prisoners of conscience in China, and that remains true today,” says Zhang. “It is imperative that the UNHRC and other international bodies place Falun Gong squarely on the table when addressing China’s human rights abuses and not permit CCP officials to side-step a critical issue that affects so many in China.”

Falun Gong supporters lose appeal to retain structure on Granville

A Falun Gong member holds vigil outside Vancouver's Chinese consulate.
By Keith Fraser, The Province February 10, 2009 7:01 AM

The Falun Gong supporters today lost a last-ditch appeal to prevent their protest site in front of Vancouver’s Chinese consulate from being dismantled.

Last month B.C. Supreme Court Madam Justice Sunni Stromberg-Stein found that the protest billboard and small shed at the site on Granville Street violated the city’s bylaws and ordered them removed.

On Friday the protestors applied to stay the order pending the hearing of a full appeal, but this morning B.C. Court of Appeal Chief Justice Lance Finch dismissed the stay application.

Finch found that the protestors might suffer some harm to their cause by the order, but it does not rise to the level of “irreparable harm,” one of the requirements that must be met to uphold a stay.

He observed that if the protestors succeed on their full appeal, which may not be heard until September, they can rebuild the structure at that point.

Outside court, city lawyer Tom Zworski said he expected the site would be removed sometime today.

Joe Arvay, a lawyer for the protestors, could not be reached for comment.

The protest site was set up seven years ago. The Falun Gong claim they have been persecuted by the Chinese government.

Friday, February 06, 2009

NGOs Question UN Agency’s Whitewashing of China’s Abuses

OHCHR’s summary report excluded all complaints from NGO reports on the Chinese government’s gross and systematic human rights violations

By Online Friday, February 6, 2009

Canada Free Press: San Diego-The Conscience Foundation and China Aid Association today jointly issued an open letter to the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay, and member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), revealing that a summary report from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had whitewashed China’s human rights abuses.

To view the full text of Open Letter please click here

On February 9, 2009, the UNHRC is to review China’s human rights records in its universal periodic review (UPR) procedure. Over twenty independent NGOs have submitted reports to UNHRC on China’s human rights conditions. OHCHR is responsible for summarizing these NGO reports for UNHRC.

After comparing it with those original NGO reports, the Conscience Foundation found that the OHCHR’s summary report excluded all complaints from NGO reports on the Chinese government’s gross and systematic human rights violations against multiple victims groups, including Falun Gong, Christians, Uyghurs, Tibetans, and human rights lawyers and defenders and additionally, that the report used information from Chinese government-affiliated institutions to counter independent NGOs’ criticisms of the Chinese government’s human rights abuses. The Conscience Foundation’s detailed analysis of OHCHR’s summary report and how it effectively served to cover up China’s human rights abuses can be found at here

In the open letter The Conscience Foundation and China Aid Association request that High Commissioner Pillay look into the issue it has raised and take corrective measures. They also request that UNHRC postpone the UPR of China until a fair and objective summary report can be prepared to replace the current one. They believe the issue they have raised is serious not only because it undermines the fairness of the UPR of China, but more because it threatens the credibility of the entire UPR process. As it is, OHCHR’s summary report cannot serve as a fair and objective document for the UPR of China, and will render the UPR of China illegitimate.

In a separate letter on January 26, 2009, the Conscience Foundation’s affiliated Falun Gong Human Rights Working Group requested the Foreign Ministry of Canada to make a proposal to UNHRC to postpone the UPR of China. Canada, India, and Nigeria are the three member states chosen by UNHRC to facilitate the UPR of China.

Contact: Shizhong Chen, 1+858-366-5818, Arleen Freeman, 1+619-280-5177
Email: conscience@consciencefoundation.org

Thursday, February 05, 2009

So what is Falun Gong?

Irish Independent: The principles of Falun Gong were introduced by Chinese philosopher Li Hongzhi in Changchun, China, in 1992.

Falun Gong (also called Falun Dafa, or just Dafa) is, according to the official website falundafa.org, "a high-level cultivation practice guided by the characteristics of the universe -- Truthfulness, Benevolence, and Forbearance."

Cultivation means "continuously striving to better harmonise oneself with these universal principles". Practice refers to the exercises -- five sets of easy-to-learn gentle movements and meditation. Falun Gong followers believe that cultivating oneself is essential; practising the exercises supplements the process.

"Over time, the principles of Dafa unveil the deepest and most profound truths of the universe," according to falundafa.org. "Following the principles, practitioners of Falun Dafa are able to reach very high realms, enlightening to the true meanings of life, and finding the path of return to their origins and true selves."

Followers believe that, while the exercises have deep inner meanings, they also help to reduce stress and can bring great improvements in health and fitness.

Today, Falun Gong is practised and cherished by over 100 million people in over 80 countries.

Falun Gong disciple Ming Zhao tells his horrifying story

by John Meagher

Irish Independent: Life was looking rosy for Ming Zhao. It was the end of 1999, and he had returned from China after almost a year in Dublin studying on a scholarship at Trinity College. A top-grade computer science student, he was looking forward to spending time with his parents and three brothers, all of whom had carved a career out of computing.

While in Dublin, Ming had been dismayed to hear that the Chinese government had begun persecuting members of the spiritual Falun Gong movement, of which he was a follower.

Shortly after returning to China, he went to his local government appeals office in order to register his opposition to the persecution. He was arrested on the spot, detained for several days and his passport was confiscated.

It was an experience that didn't deter him from spreading the Falun Gong message of "truthfulness, compassion and tolerance". But his luck soon ran out. At a peaceful rally in Beijing in early 2000, he was one of several arrested. And so began two years of internment in a 'labour camp' where torture was a frequent occurrence.

Today, Ming, a 38-year-old Dublin-based web designer, recalls the nightmare of the Chinese justice system for many arrested Falun Gong followers.

"They used electric batons to shock us," he says. "They would tie me to a bed-board when giving me the electric shocks. It was incredibly painful -- the skin would go red immediately and the following day it would be black. Fear of the shocks was almost as bad as the shocks themselves."

His quiet, softly spoken voice only serves to heighten the trauma that he describes.

He was subjected to regular bouts of sleep deprivation. "The other inmates would be told not to let me sleep," he says. "It was terrible -- I thought I was losing my mind. And that's what they wanted, of course."

And there was worse to come in the Tuanhe 'Re-education through labour' Camp in Beijing. "They ordered inmates who were there for other crimes to beat me up. They were given special benefits for carrying out the beatings -- sometimes they were released early as a result. Once I was beaten so badly I couldn't walk for two weeks." Nor was he able to use the toilet. "My legs were so badly beaten I couldn't squat. It was an evil place."

The physical scars eventually disappeared, but the psychological wounds remain. He looks visibly distressed when recalling the beatings that he was frequently subjected to in captivity.

'My life is happy now, but I cannot forget. And thinking about what happened to me makes me realise that at this very moment there are thousands of Falun Gong followers who are experiencing the same sort of torture in prisons throughout China.

"And then there is the matter of the body-organ harvesting. Many Falun Gong followers have died in prison and their organs have been taken. The United Nations has written a number of reports about this practice, but it is something that the Chinese authorities have denied."

For most of Ming's two years in prison, his family did not know his whereabouts.

"The authorities did not inform them that I was in prison. My older brother only found out by chance -- he had gone to every prison in Beijing to try to find me."

Furthermore, he wasn't informed of his release date until the actual day. "Psychologically, not knowing when I was going to get out of prison was extremely difficult. There was no date for me to look forward to. Sometimes, I wondered if I would ever get out."

He believes the establishment's opposition to Falun Gong is inspired by a fear of mass mobilisation. When the persecution started in July 1999, an estimated 70 million Chinese were Falun Gong followers.

"The government spreads lies about Falun Gong -- it says that it is a cult, but it is not religious at all. It says we believe that sick people should not receive medicine and should commit suicide instead -- it's a lie.

"After the Cultural Revolution [Mao Tse Tung's violent campaign to rid the country of its liberal bourgeoisie] ordinary people kept their heads down and got on with their lives. There was a sense of fear. But Li Hongzu [Falun Gong founder] changed that. His teachings offered people a new way of looking at their lives."

Ming first read Li's introductory book, Falun Gong, in 1994 -- two years after it was first published. "It had a huge impact on me," he says. "It made me re-evaluate my life and my health improved as a result. It taught me to look at all aspects of the way I was living -- from meditation to food. It offers a balanced look at life -- I would recommend it to anyone."

Today, he estimates that there are about 40 dedicated Falun Gong practitioners living in Ireland. It is not known what proportion of the 70,000-odd Chinese living in this country follow the teachings.

After release from prison -- a move that was hastened thanks to international pressure led by then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern -- Ming returned to Ireland to complete his studies at Trinity. He enjoys life here, but hopes to return to China one day.

"My father saw me off at the airport and he told me not to come back to China because it would be too dangerous for me. He believed I would be arrested again if I returned."

That was in 2002 and he hasn't seen his father -- or any member of his family -- since. "I speak to them on the phone, but that's it. It is difficult being away from them. When this regime falls, I will see them again."

Ming believes political change is underway in China, with growing millions demanding greater freedom. "The mood is changing," he says. "The current head of the government is not as opposed to Falun Gong as his predecessor was, but the situation is still not safe."

Despite his suffering, and the uncertain future, Ming has no regrets about following the Falun Gong way or life.

"It has improved me as a person in a way that I could not have imagined. It has made me strong, too. One day I will be free to practise it in my own country. I'm sure of it."

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Vancouver Falun Gong Rally to Continue Consulate Vigil

By Joan Delaney
Epoch Times Staff
Feb 4, 2009
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Sophia Bronwen, chinese consulate, falun gong,
Sophia Bronwen speaks at a press conference at the Falun Gong protest site outside the Chinese consulate in Vancouver on Wednesday. (Christine Liao/The Epoch Times)

Vancouver Falun Gong practitioners are scrambling to save their protest site at the Chinese consulate on Granville Street after it was ordered dismantled within a week by a B.C. Supreme Court ruling last Thursday.

The court upheld the City of Vancouver’s application seeking an injunction to remove the hut and billboards which have been part of Falun Gong’s round-the-clock vigil at the consulate since 2001.

However, the group is appealing, and in an effort to keep the vigil going until the appeal is heard, their lawyer, Clive Ansley, says an application has been made to the court for a “stay of proceedings” to be decided Friday.

“The vigil should be removed on Thursday but the city solicitor has agreed that they won’t take any action until the court has had a chance to rule on our application for a stay. If we get our application then the vigil will remain until the appeal is heard. If we lose on the application on Friday then they will take it down,” Ansley says.

At a rally and press conference outside the consulate on Wednesday, Falun Gong practitioners called on Mayor Gregor Robertson to allow the structures to remain until the court hears their appeal. The group plans to gather at the site again on Thursday, day 2724 of the vigil.

The Falun Gong say the site helps raise awareness and bears witness to the tens of thousands who have been tortured and murdered since the Chinese regime outlawed the spiritual practice in July 1999.

Chinese consulate, Falun Gong, Falun Gong protest,
The Chinese consulate looms in the background as Falun Gong practitioners, media and supporters gather at the site on day 2724 of the vigil. (Fany Qiu/The Epoch Times)
The “blue wall” along the consulate fence consists of posters calling for an end to the persecution, depictions of torture methods used in labour camps in China, and pictures of slain practitioners.

“The site constitutes a monument to human rights which should be the pride of the city, and it has been regarded as such by people of conscience and by human rights activists,” says Falun Gong spokesperson Sue Zhang.

Speaking at the rally, Fred Muzin, former provincial president of the Hospital Employees Union, said getting rid of the site “erodes democracy.”

“When countries such as the Chinese government massacre people, when they murder people to harvest organs, it is very important that the world community shine a light on the atrocities that are going on. If not, we don’t have a civil society.”

While Justice Sunni Stromberg-Stein made it clear in her ruling that she was referring only to the signs and hut and not any other forms of protest used in the vigil, Falun Gong’s lawyer Joseph Arvay said the protest wouldn’t be nearly as effective without these structures, which “are on a strip of dirt that nobody uses” and are not blocking the sidewalk.

“It’s kind of ridiculous that the city says they can be there with their signs every day marching up and down the sidewalk—in which case they will obstruct the sidewalk—but they can’t be there with their hut and the billboards which doesn't obstruct anyone.”

The hut has played a key role in allowing the silent protesters to be there day and night, says Arvay.

Stromberg-Stein stated in the judgment that she accepted that former Mayor Sam Sullivan wanted the structures removed in 2006 “as part of his public order agenda” and not “because of the sensitivities of the Chinese government.”

Arvay and Ansley had argued that Sullivan wanted the structures removed at the behest of the Chinese regime and that Chinese consulate officials had pressured Sullivan to get rid of the protest.

A report written by a Chinese spy operating in Canada suggested that due to successful lobbying by Beijing, the Canadian government had pressed the City of Vancouver to remove the protest. This is according to a June 2005 statement by Hao Fengjun, a Chinese defector who sought political asylum in Australia.

The Falun Dafa Association of Canada has said that many cities in Canada and around the world with similar displays outside consulates and embassies have faced pressure from Chinese authorities.

In a letter to the mayor and council, former federal NDP candidate Dale Jackaman said he hopes the city will furnish a “suitable permit” for the protest to continue until the B.C. Court of Appeal hears the case.

“This site is a visible reminder to all Canadians, if not the world, that we can and do stand up against tyranny, oppression and censorship—something far and away more important than the enforcement of a sidewalk usage bylaw,” Jackaman wrote.

Although the Vancouver practitioners had vowed to continue the vigil until the persecution of their counterparts in China ended, Zhang said the group will “definitely abide by the ultimate decision of the Canadian judiciary.”

“We have always promised to obey the law and abide by the decision of the courts, there has been no change in this position,” she says.

Ansley is hopeful the court will grant the stay. “I’m definitely optimistic. I think we meet all the tests that are required in order to get a stay in these circumstances.”

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Falun Gong Loses Ground

By Pete McMartin 02-02-2009

Vancouver Sun Blog: Late last week, B.C. Supreme Court Judge Sunni Stromberg-Stein ruled in her judgment, which can be read here, that gave the City of Vancouver the go-ahead to remove a row of billboards and a small shelter the Falun Gong had erected on a city-owned grass median in front of the Chinese consulate on Granville Street. I've written on the city's previous attempts to roust the Falun Gong away from the front of the Chinese consulate in a 2006 column you can read here, and again in a column for Tuesday's paper.

The city's preoccupation with the Falun Gong vigil, which the city has now pursued through the court for two years, and which promises to go on longer, since the Falun Gong will be filing an appeal, is always explained by the city as merely the wish to enforce its bylaw protecting the integrity of its streets. That integrity — so crucial, apparently, for a half-block strip along a residential area of south Granville — is compromised elsewhere by fruit stalls and sidewalk sandwich boards and ranks of newspaper boxes and bike stands and hot dog vendors all over town, but these uses, of course, are allowed under the city's bylaws. And lets not forget the nuisance of hundreds of beggars pedestrians must navigate around daily — beggars who often can be found on the same patch of sidewalk day after day.

But the passive and completely silent vigil protesting what the Falun Gong claims is institutionalized persecution by the Chinese government against them? This has inspired the city into action because the Falun Gong's row of billboards, and a yard-wide shack in which members can meditate in during inclement weather, sits on a city-owned grass median. Oddly, or maybe not so oddly, the city has pursued this course despite the fact that in seven years only three documented complaints have been received. One of those complaints came from a consul general representing all the consulates in Vancouver, who fear, I guess, their own versions of Falun Gong-like shacks springing up on the medians in front of their consulates. Meanwhile, the Falun Gong protesters don't even do so much as litter. Passive? They make Gandhi look like a suicide bomber.

There are theories that have been suggested to explain why the city has moved against the Falun Gong, though these theories are impossible to prove. To appease the Chinese government. To appease the Chinese immigrant community. To remove potentially embarrassing public displays before the 2010 Olympics. Pick your conspiracy. The cause doesn't matter.

The effect does. What matters is the silence with which the city's move against the Falun Gong has been greeted. Where are the indignant howls of social activists? The angry editorials? The letters to the editor? Why, in a city that likes to think of itself as the centre of enlightened and virulent dissent, are there not more people who believe, who see, that there is more at stake here than the trespass of a few feet of city grass?

Rally to appeal against removal of Falun Gong hut and billboards

Group has vowed to continue the protest until the persecution comes to an end

MWC: Vancouver –Friends and supporters of Falun Gong will hold a rally and press conference outside the Chinese Consulate on Granville St. on Wednesday, Feb. 4th at 1:00pm to express their disappointment with a recent BC Supreme court ruling ordering the removal of their hut and billboards located in front of the Chinese Consulate-General on S. Granville.

VIPs attending will be:

  • Legal Counsel for Falun Gong, Mr. Clive

  • Mrs. Simma Holt, Former Member of Parliament and journalist
  • Mr. Dale Jackaman, businessman in the field of corporate cyber security and forensics. He is also a veteran and a local politician.

  • Mr. Fred Muzin, supporter and past President of the Hospital Employees’ Union

Falun Gong practitioners have held a round-the-clock vigil there since 2001 to protest what amounts to a genocide against fellow practitioners in China. The site bears witness to the tens thousands who have been tortured and murdered since the persecution began in 1999. The “blue wall” along the consulate fence consists of posters calling for an end to the persecution, depictions of torture methods used in China’s labour camps and pictures of slain practitioners. The strong message demanding cessation of the ongoing killing of practitioners is not only aimed at the Chinese Consulate-General but more particularly at the international community which is in a position to help stop these atrocities by speaking out. It should be the pride of the city, and it has been so regarded by people of conscience and by human rights activists.

To allow the protest site to continue is to recognize the importance of supporting universal human rights over any political or economic interests.

Vancouver's previous mayors had no issue with this peaceful vigil until Sam Sullivan came along. While Sullivan was a councilor in the NPA-dominated council, the hut and billboards were erected in 2001. Neither he nor council called for their removal until Mayor Sullivan suddenly did so in June 2006. According to a June 2005 statement by defecting Chinese agent Hao Fengjun, a report written by a Chinese spy operating in Canada stated that due to successful lobbying by Beijing, the Canadian government had pressed the City of Vancouver to remove the protest.

If the City of Vancouver reduces the protest site issue to a mere discussion over by-law enforcement, that equates to condoning the brutal murder of tens of thousands. The law is made to protect good people and not to cover up the crimes of murderers. If we as a democratic country cannot support those who are oppressed, that is undermining the foundation of our country’s most basic principles. The protest site sends a clear message to China and the world—genocide will not be tolerated! As long as the persecution exists the protest site should exist.

Please support the appeal to allow the protest site to remain standing, not just for China and the Falun Gong, but for humanity.

We have always promised to obey the law and abide by the decision of the courts. There has been no change in this position. But part of our legal rights as Citizens of British Columbia is the right of appeal. Falun Gong will definitely abide by the ultimate decision of the Canadian judiciary. We have maintained this site through rain, wind, sleet, and snow, 24 hours per day for more than seven years. We ask the new Mayor and Council not to remove the vigil structures until the British Columbia Court of Appeal has heard the appeal against the Supreme Court decision of Mme. Justice Stromberg-Stein. We ask no more than the City’s agreement to allow a “stay of execution” until the Court of Appeal has issued its ruling.

Falun Gong is a system of exercises and meditation that originated in China rooted in Truth, Compassion and Tolerance. Since August 2001, we have sustained a continuous presence outside the consulate for over 2723 (Feb. 4th) days to protest the persecution, a feat which supporters say qualifies for the Guinness Book of World Records.

Contact: Clive Ansley 250-792-3547, Legal Counsel for Falun Gong
Sue Zhang 778-384-8612, spokesperson for Falun Dafa Association

Authored by Falun Dafa Association of Vancouver

For more information: http://faluninfo.net