WorldWide Religious News

Asia/Pacific - New Zealand

Speaker allows Falun Gong art
by Angela Gregory ("New Zealand Herald," August 9, 2002)

Chinese Embassy complaints to the Speaker's Office about a Falun Gong art exhibition have fallen on deaf ears.

The embassy on Wednesday objected to a one-day exhibition of paintings in Parliament by an artist who belongs to the spiritual movement, which is banned in China.

The Chinese claim Falun Gong is an evil political cult that promotes harmful practices.

The exhibition, which included information about Falun Gong, was displayed on the ground floor of the Beehive yesterday.

Speaker Jonathan Hunt said the second secretary at the Chinese Embassy had expressed disapproval.

But Mr Hunt said he had given the go-ahead as New Zealand was a democratic country and different points of view were entitled to be aired.

The exhibition was sponsored by Green MP Keith Locke.

The Chinese Embassy in Wellington did not respond yesterday to Herald inquiries.

Auckland Airport last month bowed to pressure from the Chinese Government and removed a display promoting Falun Gong.

The embassy had said it was offensive to Chinese travellers.

In May, a banner on Queen St advertising the Dalai Lama's Auckland visit raised the ire of Chinese diplomats.

That was taken down.

The Falun Gong movement was formed in 1992 by Li Hongzhi and has followers in more than 40 countries.

Organisers say that since China outlawed Falun Gong, more than 50,000 followers have been jailed, sent to labour camps or put in mental institutions.

They also say many have been tortured, some to death.

The Chinese Government has acknowledged several deaths in custody.

But it says these were as a result of suicide or illness.


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