Falun Gong to maintain ongoing vigil

Vancouver, Canada - Falun Gong practitioners in Vancouver say they'll maintain their 24/7 vigil outside the Chinese Consulate, while a bid from the city to force the group to leave snakes its way through the court system.

The city is asking the B.C. Supreme Court to order Falun Gong followers to take down their colourful structures, which have adorned the sidewalks in front of the Granville Street consulate for five years now.

"Nobody really wants to be there, on beautiful days, or in icy winters, in the middle of the night for five years," practitioner Sue Zhang told 24 hours yesterday. "You have to listen to what is happening, and why we are there."

The city says the group is allowed to protest, but cannot keep a permanent structure.

Zhang says she has "faith the Canadian legal system" will allow the group to stay. It'll likely take weeks to set a court date.

A report co-authored by former Liberal MP David Kilgour released this summer concluded the Chinese government has "put to death a large but unknown number of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience," a charge vehemently denied by China.

The local consulate has stayed silent on Falun Gong issues, but the Chinese embassy in Ottawa has begun to release statements criticizing Falun Gong, calling the movement an "evil cult."