Falun Dafa group banned again from Santa pa­rade

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Heather McCracken

The Falun Dafa march­ing band has been banned from the Auck­land Christ­mas pa­rade again be­cause of fears it will hi­jack the event.

The Auck­land Chil­dren’s Christ­mas Pa­rade Trust have re­fused the band’s ap­pli­ca­tion, say­ing it won’t have a “fam­ily oc­ca­sion hi­jacked”.

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

“We are part of the com­mu­nity and we want to cel­e­brate the oc­ca­sion along with every­one else,” she says.

“We want to en­ter­tain peo­ple with our brass band and dis­play the beauty of Falun Dafa.”

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

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

Ms Cao says the group has given an un­der­tak­ing not to dis­trib­ute any Falun Dafa-re­lated ma­te­rial at the pa­rade.

They have been re­fused per­mis­sion to take part in Auck­land for the past seven years, but have marched in pa­rades in Pan­mure, How­ick, Hamil­ton and Welling­ton.

Pan­mure pa­rade or­gan­is­ers have three times awarded the group prizes for their float.

Auck­land City Coun­cil­lor Richard Northey says they add to the spec­ta­cle at Pan­mure ev­ery year.

Mr Northey and five other coun­cil­lors have writ­ten to Auck­land pa­rade or­gan­is­ers back­ing the band’s bid to take part.

In a writ­ten state­ment, the Auck­land Chil­dren’s Christ­mas Pa­rade Trust says the Falun Dafa group does not fit with the spirit of the Christ­mas pa­rade.

“The Auck­land Santa 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.

“We are not pre­pared to have this fam­ily oc­ca­sion hi­jacked by other or­gan­i­sa­tions and their agen­das.”

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

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