Court orders Falun Gong to dismantle protest hut
A B.C. Supreme Court judge has ordered the removal of a long-standing Falun Gong protest hut and signs in front of the Chinese Consulate in Vancouver.
Falun Gong practitioners in Vancouver have been carrying out a 24/7 vigil outside the consulate since August 2001, to protesting religious persecution against Falun Gong members in China by the Chinese government.
Protesters also erected a wooden structure at the 3300 block of Granville Street, between a sidewalk and a wall that surrounds the consulate, which the city claimed was encroaching on the sidewalk.
In June 2006, the city asked protesters to dismantle the structure and take down signs because they violated the city's street and traffic bylaw. When protesters refused, the city began legal proceedings.
The protesters argued in court that the city bylaw stifled their freedom of expression rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
But B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sunni Stromberg-Stein ruled Thursday that erecting permanent structures goes against the fundamental purpose of the street.
The group has been given one week to take down the hut and signs.
With files from the Canadian Press