A deputation from the Falun Gong – a spiritualist movement that’s banned in China – is to address councillors at tomorrow’s full session of Leeds City Council.
After initially being refused, Falun Gong campaigner Mary Man has now been given permission by council leaders to address the meeting for five minutes at the beginning of the session.
“Leeds made a righteous choice, because they refused the deputation in the beginning, but after consideration they agreed,” she told the leeds citizen.
All the more righteous given the strains in the Sino-Leeds relationship caused by the visit of the Dalai Lama to the city in June. And given the fact that athletes from China’s Olympic team arrived in Leeds yesterday for their pre-Games training camp.
According to the Yorkshire Evening Post, the go-ahead was given after negotiations with Mrs Man about what she would say tomorrow. It remains to be seen to what extent she will self-censor herself.
“Serious human rights violations”
Practiced in China by millions after its introduction in 1992, Falun Gong – a combination of meditation, slow-moving qigong exercises and moral philosophy – was initially tolerated but subsequently outlawed by the Chinese authorities and is now officially seen as an “evil cult”.
Following a crack-down in 1999, Human Rights Watch reported that: “Serious human rights violations – including restrictions on freedom of thought, belief, and expression, wrongful detention, unfair trials, torture, and deaths in custody – have accompanied the Chinese government response to Falun Gong.”
Mrs Man is one of the organisers of an exhibition currently on at the Corn Exchange in Leeds which depicts the “human rights tragedy” of Falun Gong practitioners in China.
To mark the 13th anniversary of the ban, an early day motion has been tabled in the House of Commons and backed by a cross-party group of 23 MPs, expressing concern over the “infringement of human rights” in connection with the treatment of the Falun Gong.