British Columbia

Falun Gong protesters agree to dismantle hut while awaiting appeal

A controversial protest hut erected by Falun Gong practitioners outside the Chinese Consulate in Vancouver will finally be dismantled, but it likely won't be city workers who remove it.

A controversial protest hut erected by Falun Gong practitioners outside the Chinese Consulate in Vancouver will finally be dismantled, but it likely won't be city workers who remove it.

Members of the religious sect plan to dismantle the hut themselves on Wednesday, according to their lawyer, Clive Ansley.

The move comes after the B.C. Court of Appeal rejected the group's latest request to issue an injunction to prevent the city from tearing down the blue hut until their appeal was heard later this year.

The hut has stood on the site for eight years as a sign of protest against persecution of Falun Gong members in China by the Chinese government.

"The Falun Gong practitioners are law-abiding people, and they've always said that when the court determined it, they would abide by the decision,"  said Ansley. "So, it's important to them that they be allowed to comply with the decision and take it down themselves."

But while the group has lost its latest battle with the city, spokesperson Sue Zhang said, the fight is not over.

"We will abide [by] the law, but our protest will not be stopped," said Zhang. "Our voice will still be there because this is persecution, and it needs to be stopped."

If the group's appeal is successful later this year, a new hut will be built on the sidewalk at 3300 block of Granville Street, replacing the original one, Zhang said.

The latest ruling and the coming appeal both follow a ruling issued in January by the B.C. Supreme Court ordering the removal of the hut and a large sign in front of the Chinese Consulate.

Falun Gong practitioners in Vancouver have been carrying out a 24/7 vigil outside the consulate since August 2001 to protest the Chinese government's position on their religion.

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