Falun Gong Practitioners Win Right to Protest at Paris Chinese Embassy

On July 18, 2009, the Paris Administrative Court issued an ordinance to rescind a Paris police ban forbidding the Falun Dafa Association of France from holding protests in front of the Chinese Embassy on July 20. The ordinance was sent to the French Ministry of Interior Affairs.

Since the persecution of Falun Gong started on July 20, 1999, this is the very first time that the association has received permission to rally outside the embassy. The practitioners' lawyer Mr. Gabard, welcomed the ordinance and said that this would allow the practitioners to hold a rally at the embassy as planned on July 20.

Lawyer Gabard said that the Chinese Embassy has very important symbolic meaning for the practitioners and not allowing protests to take place at the embassy is identical to a ban which violates the practitioners' rights to protest.

Since the persecution started in 1999, using a number of justifications, such as insufficient manpower, the Paris Police Department has never issued a permit to any group to rally in front of the Chinese Embassy. During the past ten years, Falun Gong practitioners have repeatedly applied for permission to peacefully protest at the embassy and they were always sent to locations far away. When high-ranking communist officials visit Paris, practitioners' rally sites have been assigned even further away. Regarding this situation, the Falun Dafa Association of France recently filed a lawsuit against the Paris Police.

In the ordinance, the Administrative Court recognised that rallies of Falun Gong practitioners have never affected the public order, and a rally on July 20 at the Chinese Embassy is of high symbolic meaning. The court ruled that the ban by Paris Police had severely violated the citizens' right to rally and freedom of expression, and thus the ban must be lifted. Besides granting the association the right to protest in front of the embassy, the court also ordered the Paris Police to pay the Falun Dafa Association 1000 Euros in legal fees.

Tang Hanlong, chairperson of the Falun Dafa Association of France, said that the ordinance supported justice and the association was very pleased with the result.

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