The Epoch Times: Chinese New Year in Paris is Eventful and The Chinese Embassy Challenges the French Spirit

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(The Epoch Times is an popular overseas Chinese newspaper with a worldwide readership)

As the Chinese Lunar New Year looms, numerous Chinese people in Paris are expecting an extraordinary New Year. In addition to being the first time that the global Chinese New Year Party in Europe has been sponsored by the New Tang Dynasty, there will be thousands of Chinese attending the parade on the Avenue des Champs Elysees in downtown Paris on the 3rd of January in the Chinese Lunar Calendar. As a registered group, the Falun Dafa Association also handed in an application for participation in the spring festival parade. However, it was blocked by the Chinese Embassy in France for “the Chinese governments' attitude toward Falun Gong", which has been brought to the attention of the members of the European Parliament and human rights groups.

This parade is one of the activities jointly held by France and the Chinese government to celebrate a happy festival and to demonstrate Chinese culture during the Chinese New Year. The participants included Chinese people and groups from all sectors of society in France and China.

Politicising the cultural event

In October 2003, the French Falun Dafa Association officially handed in the written application to the coordinator of the Chinese parade. It was clearly stated that 1,000 or more people would like to join the parade, including dancing with dragon masks, Chinese drummers, traditional dancers, people to demonstrate the Falun Gong exercises, decorated vehicles, etc. The application was later passed on to the Chinese Embassy.

According to a spokesperson from the European Falun Gong Information Centre, Mr. Zhang Jianping, the Falun Gong application was like a stone dropping into the sea after it was handed in. He called the Chinese Embassy in France to enquire. “An employee, whose last name was Wu, answered the phone and said that we were not allowed to participate in the parade. I stated clearly that the Falun Gong Association is a legal group, officially registered in France. We have the right to participate in the parade. He replied that it was not a legal issue and that you know the Chinese government’s attitude toward Falun Gong.” The employees at the Embassy, however, “rejected the Falun Gong Association's application from beginning to end."

Falun Gong has spread worldwide since its initial introduction in China. Zhang Jianping said, “Falun Gong is a most adequate representation of China’s traditional culture and cultivation today. The purpose of Falun Gong’s application to participate in a Chinese cultural activity is 'to demonstrate the tradition of Chinese culture.' It has nothing to do with politics.” Zhang Jianping criticised the Chinese Embassy for politicising the cultural event using diplomatic methods, which has brought the persecution of Falun Gong to a democratic western society. He said that he could not accept the Chinese Embassy’s manner because it is a challenge to the value of freedom, rights and interests, and the freedom of a society. It is known that Falun Gong has now continuously tried to contact the sponsor, the Paris City Authority.

Falun Gong is an active group in cultural circles in Europe. Falun Gong has already participated in the International Art Festival in Edinburgh and won the first prize in the Community Group of the parade for a number of years. In September 2003, Falun Gong won 2nd prize when it participated in the Multicultural Festival in Hamburg for the first time. For the past four years, the scene of Falun Gong practitioners demonstrating the exercises at the Eiffel Tower every week has already become a scenic sight in Paris.

The French Spirit being challenged

Since being banned in China in July 1999, Falun Gong has been persecuted in China. Practitioners are required to write letters giving up their belief in “Truthfulness, Benevolence, Forbearance." For the past four years, the number of persecuted Falun Gong practitioners has reached more than 800 and those arrested have also reached several hundred thousand.

An Italian member of the European Parliament and member of the European Diplomatic Human Rights Committee, Mrs. Emma-Bonino, said to our reporter, “I can imagine that the Chinese government is unwilling to see the presence of Falun Gong in the parade. It is like many places elsewhere in the world that autocratic governments always think of applying pressures everywhere. What’s more important is that a democratic country should stick to its principles, so as to these stop things from occurring frequently. I hope that the French government can stick to the principle of freedom because it’s not only the cornerstone of France but also of Europe. I hope that French people can keep their tradition and resist Chinese pressure."

The persecution of Falun Gong has been listed by numerous international human rights organisations as one of the most disgusting infringements upon human rights. It has also come to the attention of various sectors that Falun Gong’s application for the parade in Paris has been blocked.

The President of the Austrian branch of the International Human Rights Association, Mrs. Glibb wrote a letter to the mayor of Paris, ”As President of the International Human Rights Association in Austria, I was surprised to hear the news from various channels regarding the Chinese Embassy’s attempt in Paris to apply pressure on France, the place where human rights originated, to stop Falun Gong practitioners attending the celebratory parade for Chinese New Year. Paris is the capital of France, and we firmly believe that it will remain a model of French spirit of “Peace, Equality, and Fraternity. We earnestly request that you approve Falun Gong practitioners’ application for attending the celebration activity."


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