San Francisco supervisors vote to condemn persecution of Falun Gong

But resolution, passed 9-2, doesn’t mention China by name

(01-31) 04:07 PST — The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted this afternoon to condemn persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual movement.

Falun Gong was banned by Chinese government in 1999 as a cult and has seen its members imprisoned by Bejing.

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The resolution, which the supervisors passed on a 9-2 vote, stopped short of condemning China by name because Supervisor Fiona Ma removed that language by amendment.

Debate on the resolution, which had started out similar to another statement the board rejected in 2001, played out against the backdrop of protest over the Falun Gong’s exclusion from this year’s Lunar New Year parade.

Falun Gong members have said they were unfairly rejected because local political and business leaders have strong ties to China.

Parade officials say they barred the group because it handed out leaflets during the 2004 event in violation of a rule against political activity.

Supervisor Chris Daly introduced the resolution in response to Falun Gong followers’ complaints that they are being discriminated against for their religious beliefs.

Daly, who also sponsored the 2001 resolution and called a hearing last week on Falun Gong and the parade, said it was “baffling” the resolution has drawn so much controversy.

One after another, supervisors called the resolution “innocuous.”

“There’s nothing in here about the Chinatown parade,” said Sean Elsbernd, who found himself in the rare position of agreeing with Daly.

Ma, the only Asian-American on the board, said that status means she has must respond more directly to concerns of Chinese Americans, and that is why she amended the resolution to make it less critical of China. And she noted that past Board resolutions about international events often have omitted the name of the government in question.

Ma found herself under attack this week in newspaper ads placed by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce that branded Falun Gong a “homophobic cult.” In voting for Daly’s resolution today, she said she was standing up for civil rights, specifically the guarantee of freedom of religion.

“I do not support the Falun Gong or their teachings,” she said.

Only Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin and Supervisor Jake McGoldrick voted against the resolution. Neither commented before the vote.


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
San Francisco Chronicle, USA
Jan. 31, 2006
Vanessa Hua and Charlie Goodyear, Chronicle Staff Writers
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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday February 1, 2006.
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