Canada

Vancouver mayor orders Falun Gong to end consulate protest

Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan has set a deadline for Falun Gong protesters to remove their protest wall from the sidewalk in front of the Chinese Consulate.

Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan has set a deadline for Falun Gong protesters to remove their protest wall from the sidewalk in front of the Chinese Consulate.

The group has erected a wall of photographs of its members who they say have been tortured by the Chinese government.

The group has also maintained a round-the-clock vigil in a small booth built on the sidewalk as part of the protest, which has been going on for the past five years.

The mayor said the group has until June 19 to take down the structures, as they contravene city bylaws. If they're not removed, the city will move in.

"I have expressed to the Falun Gong that I respect their issues with human rights, but I have told them that I expect them to adhere to the bylaws the way any other citizens would."

That prompted a demonstration by a group of Falun Gong practitioners at Vancouver city hall on Thursday.

Micheal Vonn of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association says it's not up to the mayor to decide when a protest has gone on long enough.

"The mayor doesn't get to say when citizens have finished expressing themselves," she said. "Certainly, the position of the Falun Gong would be the human rights issue hasn't gone away, and why should we."

The group said it's not going away, and intends to maintain the vigil outside the consulate until the persecution in China comes to an end.

The Falun Gong spiritual movement was first introduced to the public in 1992, and now has an estimated 70 million practitioners in China.

It has been outlawed by the Chinese government, and the group says followers in China have been persecuted, with more than 2,800 people tortured to death.

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