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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Falun Gong appeals to City to conform to court judgment on bylaw

Statement by the Vancouver Falun Dafa Association read at a rally outside City Hall on April 13.

Our 24 hour vigil in front of the Chinese Consulate started in 2001 and lasted over 2723 days until such time as the BC Supreme Court granted the city’s injunction to remove the billboards and hut in January 2009. In October of 2010, the BC Court of appeal struck down parts of the bylaw that city used to remove the Falun Gong’s protest structure and hut. The Appeal court recognized that the billboards and the hut were an integral part of the Falun Gong’s expression in their protest against the torture and killing of practitioners in China.

As a result of this Appeal Court ruling, it has become the constitutional right of practitioners to have the billboards and the hut as part of our political expression and the newly drafted city bylaw must not override this constitutional right of freedom of expression of practitioners, which has been upheld by the highest court in British Columbia.

The Chinese Communist Party has committed crimes against humanity in persecuting Falun Gong for 12 years and 100 million practitioners have been completely deprived of legal protection. Hundreds of thousands were arbitrarily arrested, detained, tortured and are still languishing in Chinese gulags. The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture has reported that 66% of the victims of alleged torture and ill-treatment in China are Falun Gong practitioners. The report states: “The cruelty and brutality of these alleged acts of torture defy description.” The UN Rapporteur has also confirmed that Falun Gong practitioners are being killed in order to harvest their organs for profit. In December 2009, an Argentine federal judge ordered the arrest of former Chinese communist leader Jiang Zemin for his crimes against humanity committed against Falun Gong practitioners and the genocidal strategy used against Falun Gong in China.

Thirty-five (35) practitioners here in Vancouver, have experienced persecution first hand while in China and some others still have family members who have either disappeared or are in jail for their belief in Falun Gong. Just yesterday, we learned that the Visa Office refused to renew a practitioner’s passport because she has joined the protest in front of the Consulate. The Chinese authorities’ campaign to defame Falun Gong is increasingly and actively promoted in Canada. We are aware that the Chinese Embassy and consulates actively pressure government officials to curb our appeal activities in front of the Chinese missions.

It’s a very serious situation that warrants continuous visibility and the attention of all Canadians. The on-going torture, killing and organ pillaging of Falun Gong practitioners, who are innocent people only wishing to meditate and to live by Truth, Compassion and Forbearance, is unacceptable. Practitioners in Vancouver have personal experience demonstrating that our presence and distinct visibility with the billboards and the hut outside the Chinese consulate has great effect on not only raising awareness of this atrocity in Canada, but also directly helping practitioners in China.

The people who appeal at the Chinese consulate do so not for self-interest but to rescue others from torture and death. The hut and display boards are not intrusive in any way; rather they serve to protect justice and awaken conscience and compassion, in that they give voice to the persecuted in China who have no voice of their own.

Throughout the years that we maintained the 24-hour vigil, all our activities outside the consulate have been peaceful and orderly, and we have conducted ourselves responsibly. Numerous individuals, organizations have told us that they admired our efforts and perseverance and encouraged us to continue.

Indeed it is out of concern for our fellow human beings that we strive to stop the persecution. Our effort deserves support. The basic human rights of practitioners is not just a Falun Gong issue, it is a universal issue that should concern all people including our city officials.

It would be immoral and unethical if our government officials stood on the side of the perpetrators, under pressure from those perpetrators to help them cover up their crimes against humanity, and stifle the voice of victims by using a so-called traffic bylaw. The laws are meant to serve the people and the good of society, to protect principles and justice.

The city raised the issue of dignity of the Chinese consulate. We would like to point out that the only way for the Chinese consulate to acquire dignity is for the regime to stop their crimes against humanity. The City of Vancouver should not seek to stifle the voice of protest against these crimes for the alleged purpose of maintaining so-called “dignity” of a genocidal and criminal regime. We ask: what “dignity” do they have when they are killing innocent people?

We hereby appeal to the city to conform to the Judgment of the British Columbia Court of Appeal which found that Falun Gong’s hut and billboards were integral parts of the protest outside the Chinese Consulate-General on Granville street. The hut and billboards were therefore protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.We ask that the city not use the bylaw to help the perpetrators cover up their crimes and at the same time override the constitutional right of Falun Gong practitioners' freedom of expression.

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