Falun Gong protests city's bid to remove wall

CBC, Canada/August 16, 2006

Dozens of Falun Gong practitioners held a silent vigil at the Chinese consulate in Vancouver on Wednesday to try to persuade Mayor Sam Sullivan to allow their protest wall to remain in place on Granville Street.

The poster-covered blue plywood wall and small protest shack have been fixtures on the sidewalk in front of the consulate on Granville for the past five years.

The wall is covered with photographs of some of the people the group claims were Falun Gong members tortured or killed in China.

The group says that more than 2,800 members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement have been tortured to death by the Chinese government.

City seeks court order

But Sullivan says five years is long enough for the group to make its point and wants the structures removed. Last week, the city went to B.C. Supreme Court seeking an order to force the wall's demolition, arguing it violates bylaw. No date has been set for a hearing.

Shirley Chen, who speaks for the Falun Data Association, said Sullivan should support freedom of speech. She also called on him to take an active role in stopping what she calls the persecution and genocide of the group.

"We believe that the right way for the city to bring an end to this peaceful appeal is for the mayor to make a more diligent effort to protest, and to end, the ongoing persecution."

The Falun Gong practitioners vow to maintain the around-the-clock vigil, but haven't said whether they would obey a court order to pack up and leave.

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