Canberra Times: Falun Gong Wants Apology From Downer(Photo)

FALUN Gong practitioners are continuing to pursue Foreign Minister Alexander Downer
over what they say was his unreasonable crackdown on their long-running protests
outside the Chinese embassy in Yarralumla.

Members of the group appeared in
the ACT Supreme Court on Friday and are due back there on November 1. They originally
argued in their long-running case that Downer’s efforts to restrict their protests
were illegal.

Downer began issuing orders in March 2002 to restrict the
protesters, including preventing them from using banners or loud speakers. Falun
Gong says the orders came just before the Chinese foreign minister of the time
visited Canberra and Downer had ”made a wrong decision to help a foreign communist
regime to silence citizens of Australia from peaceful expression”.

said he supported the right to protest but was obliged under international and
domestic law to ”prevent the impairment of the dignity of diplomatic missions
and staff”.

Downer stopped issuing the orders earlier this year and asked
the Supreme Court to dismiss the action by Falun Gong because there was now no
reason for them to pursue the litigation. But Falun Gong, which claims its followers
are tortured and killed in China, is not stopping there. It wants a court ruling
that the original orders were illegal and an apology from Downer.

Gong practitioners, most from Sydney, have conducted protests outside the embassy
in Yarralumla since 1999 when the Chinese Government declared the practice of
Falun Gong illegal in mainland China. Canberra residents had been ”very kind”
to them during their rain-hail-or-shine protests, even bringing them coffee in
winter. One of the more interesting claims by Falun Gong is that officialdom has
used other means to silence them, including a police random breath-testing bus
being positioned in front of protesters in April this year to stop visiting Chinese
Premier Wen Jiabao from seeing their banners. It remains to be seen how those
claims stack up in court – or if they will be tested at all.

date: 24/Oct/2006
Original article date: 22/Oct/2006
Category: Media Report


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