January 19, 2002

Canada's Ottawa Citizen did not try to hide its disdain of the mainland China leadership in an editorial Friday titled "Yes, protest can be embarrassing."

The daily was commenting on the mainland government's attempts to crack down on Falun Gong practitioners in Canada. For two years, Falun Gong has been protesting in front of the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa. "We imagine the diplomats inside don't much like the embarrassment caused when members of this peaceful movement tell passers-by about Falun Gong practitioners jailed or killed in China," said the editorial.

Recently, it said, a representative of the Federation of Ottawa- Carleton Chinese Organizations tried to persuade municipal politicians to stop giving Falun Gong the city permit that allows it to demonstrate.

The argument given was that the presence of protesters near the embassy was a safety risk. "In fact, the only risk from such protests is a loss of face for the Chinese government," said the Citizen.

City politicians agreed that Falun Gong could continue exercising its rights to peaceful protest and freedom of speech. These are novel concepts in Mainland China. "It's a pity they were even challenged here," the editorial said.

According to an Ottawa Sun newspaper report, meanwhile, Albert Tang of the Federation of Chinese Organizations also challenged a city bylaw exemption that allows Falun Gong people to hang large banners on a fence across the street from the Chinese Embassy. Tang further claimed that visitors to the embassy are embarrassed by flyers handed out by protesters and to avoid them, are forced to cross the road at another location, compromising their safety.

His challenges were dismissed by city authorities.