Search this site powered by FreeFind

Quick Link

for your convenience!

Human Rights, Youth Voices etc.

click here


For Information Concerning the Crisis in Darfur

click here


Northern Uganda Crisis

click here


 Whistleblowers Need Protection



Did Ottawa Tulip festival wilt under pressure?
By News Staff
May 5, 2008

Organizers of Ottawa's Tulip Festival seem to be trying to tiptoe around a controversy that has surrounded the event's opening ceremony.

Festival organizers had given the go-ahead for the marching band of the Falun Gong to play the Canadian national anthem to kick off the event on May 2. Event organizers say the band they had booked called itself the "Tian Guo Marching Band" and they had no idea they were Falun Gong.

The Falun Gong marching band plays at protest hours before it was set to perform at the Tulip Festival in Ottawa on May 2, 2008.
China is participating in the Tulip Festival and organizers say the presence of a Falun Gong band would be an insult.

Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa, is a Chinese spiritual movement that often protests China's alleged human rights abuses. It has been banned in China, but the group organizes demonstrations around the world against Beijing's alleged persecution.

In fact, members of the Tian Guo band were at a Falun Gong protest just hours before they were set to play at the tulip festival.

"We were banned (from the festival) completely because we were Falun Gong," claims member Lucy Zhou.

Festival organizers say they wanted a ceremony free of politics.

"They arrived to perform and they were completely draped in Falun Gong uniforms," festival spokesperson Doug Little told CTV News.

Falun Gong members say the band came to entertain and not to protest. They suspect Chinese interference.

"This particular incident -- where the tulip festival caves in to actual or presumed Chinese pressure -- is cowardice and it's complicity in Chinese human rights violations," human rights lawyer David Matas said at a press conference.

While Chinese diplomats have been accused before of trying to undermine events backed by Falun Gong, the tulip festival insists there was no interference. But China is taking part in the festival and organizers say the mere presence of a Falun Gong band would be an insult.

Tian Guo's website makes no secret of the fact that it is part of Falun Gong. In fact, it shows the band performing at other parades in Canada. But Little insists festival organizers were mislead.

"This is an organization that's come in to embarrass us and embarrass the Chinese embassy," says Little.

"If we made any mistake, it was not knowing that they were trying to deceive us."

Home Books Photo Gallery About David Survey Results Useful Links Submit Feedback