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Falun Gong group banned from parade


Fears the Falun Dafa marching band will hijack the Auckland Christmas parade have seen them banned from the event again.

The Auckland Children's Christmas Parade Trust has refused the band's application, saying it won't have a "family occasion hijacked", sources from stuff.co.nz on October 29.

But Falun Dafa spokeswoman Wendy Cao says the group doesn't plan to use the parade for political statements.

"We are part of the community and want to celebrate the occasion along with everyone else. We want to entertain people with our brass band and display the beauty of Falun Dafa."

The spiritual practice, also known as Falun Gong, is banned in China.

Its followers are regularly seen protesting in Auckland against persecution by the Chinese government.

They have been refused permission to take part in Auckland for the past seven years.

Auckland city councillor Richard Northey and five other councillors have written to Auckland parade organisers backing the band's bid to take part, "because they have undertaken not to disseminate any Falun Gong material."

In a statement the Christmas parade trust says the Falun Dafa group does not fit with the spirit of the parade.

"The parade is a fun family occasion attended by hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders in the spirit of Christmas and to welcome Santa to town for the festive season," it says.

"We are not prepared to have it hijacked by other organisations and their agendas."

Trust chairman Michael Barnett is overseas and the trust would not make any further comment.

Original text from: http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/sundaystartimes/auckland/4741956a6497.html

(Facts.org.cn, October 29, 2008)