San Francisco supervisors condemn persecution of Falun Gong followers

San Francisco, USA - The Board of Supervisors passed a resolution condemning the religious persecution of followers of the Falun Gong spiritual movement but stopped short of blaming the Chinese government for their mistreatment.

The board's 9-2 vote Tuesday was met with applause in a City Hall chamber packed with Falun Gong practitioners who view the resolution as a victory in their push for greater public acceptance.

Sherry Zhang, a Falun Gong spokeswoman, said the city's support would help boost followers in China, where the government banned the group in 1999 as a cult and imprisoned thousands of practitioners.

In San Francisco, Falun Gong practitioners have accused the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of unfairly excluding them from the city's Chinese New Year parade on Feb. 11.

Followers say they're were excluded because local business leaders have strong ties to China, but chamber officials say the group broke a rule banning political activity during the 2004 event by passing out leaflets.

The group said it planned to sue the city on Wednesday to force it to stop funding the parade on grounds the money is being used to support religious discrimination.