Good Morning Madam Chair and Council,
Thank you for the opportunity to speak today and your willingness to listen.
I am sorry to have to express our feeling again that we are equally disappointed with the second revision of the bylaw, which still does not conform to the court of appeal's ruling and fundamentally renders our protest ineffective.
But my greatest concern is that during the discussion around bylaw details: the real issues are being lost. I am hoping to speak with you today on behalf of the Falun Gong community, and also as fellow Canadians, fellow human beings, and to talk about something as solemn as human rights, which affects everyone on earth.
When we started this protest in 2001 we made a decision: to continue it until the persecution was over. That we would stand in solidarity with our fellow human beings in China and try to stop terrible crimes against humanity while they were facing hell on earth.
The persecution of FG remains the #1 human rights atrocity happening in China today. We have reports from China daily of people just like you or your loved ones being tortured, force fed, gang raped, and beaten to death. The United Nations has stated that today 66% of those suffering in China’s labour camps are Falun Gong practitioners. Their report states, “The Special Rapporteur continues to be alarmed by deaths in custody in China. Reports describe harrowing scenes in which detainees, many of whom are followers of the Falun Gong movement, die as a result of severe ill treatment, neglect or medical attention. The cruelty and brutality of these alleged acts of torture defy description.”
In 2006 our worst fears came to be when reports surfaced that our fellow practitioners were having their organs removed while they were still alive, and sold for profit by the state. Over 41,000 organ transplants in China are feared to have been taken by these 41,000 killed practitioners.
Here In Canada the Chinese Embassy and consulates continue to try all they can to silence the voice of Falun Gong by pressuring our elected officials to ignore Falun Gong as they deny all claims and continue pump hate propaganda out against Falun Gong in order to hide their involvement in these terrible crimes.
As stated in 2006 by Chinese Embassy official Chen Yonglin, who defected in Australia, “The Chinese Communist Party has always relied on violence, lies, and advocating atheism to maintain its power. They could not understand Falun Gong practitioners' peaceful efforts to protect their freedom of belief. Now they feel they can't let people know about what has been done to Falun Gong in China."
The communist regime is responsible for terrible crimes against humanity and it is for this reason that they continue to try to silence Falun Gong and supporters who have done nothing wrong but to peacefully try to protect their freedom to believe.
So, with little influence in society we did the only thing we could do, we went to the street to ask for help. And what we discovered through this protest, that has continued for 2723 days, is that it is working. We have exposed this story and these crimes to people, and this has created a pressure that has helped to lessen the persecution in China as the criminals fear that due to this exposure, one day they may have to pay for these crimes.
Our appeals have also helped to protect the sovereignty of our own country by exposing the Chinese governments interference and meddling right here inside Canada when they try to use economic threats to push around Canadians to follow the communist party line.
A similar case happened in Ottawa in 2001 where practitioners began a protest in front of the Chinese Embassy, and the Embassy complained and tried to force the city to remove them with a Traffic and Parking bylaw. Instead of entertaining the Embassy, the Council made the choice to support Falun Gong.
Former Councillor Mr. Alex Munter stated: "It would be a dangerous precedent to allow them to use our bylaws to suppress freedom."
We understand that the city bylaw has to meet public regulatory needs, however, it is clear that our 8 year long vigil has enough evidence to prove that safety, structure size, or disturbing the peace is not the real issue. In fact this week 5,000 Vancouver residents agreed, and signed our petition requesting the city to conform to the Court of Appeal judgment. If the city really wanted to, they could easily approve our protest.
The current restrictions will have a debilitating effect on our ability to convey our message. Taking the hut down every 12 hours, and every 30 days, restricting the size of the hut so that its not big enough to stand in, will thoroughly disable our freedom of expression.
Nobel Peace Prize nominee and respected human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng was repeatedly abducted and tortured for defending Falun Gong practitioners. To date his whereabouts remain unknown after his abduction by Chinese police.
In one of his statements Gao states: “I want to remind those so-called global ‘good friends,’ or what the Communist regime calls, “good partners” that the increasing degree of brutality and cruelness against the Chinese people by the Communist party is the direct result of appeasement by both you and us Chinese people.”
To restrict our voice, becomes equal to feeding the genocide, and appeasing a murderous regime. This is why we have asked, for five years, to have the right to protest in the manner that we know is effective. And I must emphasize this point: our manner was working, it was saving lives.
Therefore we would respectfully ask Mayor and Council to honour the BC Court of Appeal's decision to allow us to convey our message clearly, effectively, and with the dignity we deserve.