Canadian Press, May 17, 2003
VANCOUVER — Well over 1,000 supporters of Falun Gong, a practice banned in China for being a , took to the streets in Vancouver’s historic Chinatown on Saturday.
Demonstrators protested the Chinese ban and celebrated the city’s third annual festival in support of cultthe outlawed practice.
“It’s a mental thing to upgrade your mental approach to society and your body too,” said Holland-native Martin Voss at the rally, while Chinese music played in the background.
China banned Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, in 1999, labelling it an “evil cult,” and a threat to public safety and communist rule.
In the U.S., the group has attracted millions of followers with a mix of slow-motion exercise and doctrines drawn from Buddhism and Taoism and the ideas of its founder, Li Hongzhi, a former government clerk.
Last December, four Falun Gong members were sentenced to up to 20 years in prison for breaking into cable television systems in western China in 2002 to broadcast videos promoting the group.