Falun Gong dispute affects parade

Jan. 30, 2006 at 11:18 AM
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SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- The popular Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco could be hit by discord this year because the Falun Gong wants to participate in it.

Members of the spiritual movement, which is banned in China as an evil cult, are making their case a public issue after the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, which runs the parade, rejected its application last month, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. This year's parade is set for Feb. 11.

Falun Gong members have been having daily demonstrations outside City Hall and have threatened legal action against the city. They also have demanded that the city withdraw both public funding and police support on the day of the parade, says the report.

In rejecting Falun Gong's application, the Chinese chamber said the group violated the parade's rule against making political statements by handing out leaflets while marching in the 2004 parade, says the report.

Falun Gong followers say they are part of the Chinese community that deserves to participate in the celebration. They contend the Chinese chamber is acting at the direction of the Chinese government.

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