Falun Gong Wins in Protest Site Legal Battle in Vancouver
Posted by Author on October 20, 2010
By Joan Delaney, Epoch Times Staff, Oct 20, 2010 –
Falun Gong adherents are claiming victory after a section of a city bylaw prohibiting the group’s protest signs and small hut in front of the Chinese consulate in Vancouver was struck down as unconstitutional on Tuesday.
The City of Vancouver was granted an injunction requiring the removal of the structures outside the consulate on Granville St. in 2006 after a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled that they constituted an obstruction.
Falun Gong appealed, arguing that the signs and hut were an essential part of their protest and a form of political expression protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“I am very happy with the decision,” said Sue Zhang, one of the appellants.
“We were in court back and forth for four years and I think this shows the court has upheld the Canadian Charter of Rights by declaring the bylaw unconstitutional.”
The court struck down the bylaw, but suspended its action for six months to allow the city to “review its regulatory approach.”
“Consequently, Section 71 [of the bylaw] is of no force and effect insofar as it is inconsistent with freedom of expression, although the effect of the declaration is suspended for six months to allow the city the opportunity to review its regulatory approach,” the ruling stated.
Vancouver Falun Gong practitioners started a round-the-clock vigil outside the consulate in August 2001 to appeal for their persecuted family and friends in China where Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline, was banned in 1999.
The “blue wall” along the consulate fence displayed posters calling for an end to the persecution in China, depictions of torture methods used in Chinese labour camps, and pictures of slain practitioners.
The Appeal Court ruling said the chambers judge found that in modern China, persecution of practitioners is “widely documented” with reports of “police harassment, summary arrest and imprisonment without charge, physical violence, torture, and killing to harvest organs.”
Throughout the four-year case, the Falun Gong group’s lawyers consistently argued that the city’s efforts to get rid of the protest structures had more to do with pressure from the Chinese consulate and the regime in China than with a bylaw.
In the Appeals Court decision, the chambers judge did not find evidence that the City’s motivation to enforce the bylaw was a result of pressure from the regime .
However, Zhang is not convinced.
“We still believe the whole issue was because of the influence of the Chinese regime,” she said.
Many cities in Canada and around the world with similar displays outside consulates and embassies have encountered pressure from Chinese authorities, the Falun Dafa Association of Canada says. The regime has pressured both Toronto and Ottawa to remove the protest sites in those cities.
When the City of Ottawa Transportation Committee received a request from the Chinese embassy to remove the protest site across from the embassy in 2002, the committee stood its ground and allowed the display to remain.
Intolerant of the rapidly growing popularity of Falun Gong, the Chinese Communist Party has maintained an ongoing campaign of persecution against the group since 1999, which has led to the imprisonment, torture, and deaths of thousands of adherents.
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This entry was posted on October 20, 2010 at 8:01 am and is filed under Canada, China, Human Rights, Law, News, People, Religious, Social, World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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