The thinly veiled attempt by Chinese officials to target Falun Gong practitioners from around the world, in town to mark the Chinese New Year, was swiftly enforced by Paris police. A group of practitioners on their way to a New Year’s celebration were detained for wearing yellow clothing on the city streets. Among those detained were Dr. Viviana Galli and Sunny Lu from the United States, who were stopped by police near the Champs Elyse.
When Ms. Lu asked why they were being arrested she was told, “Because yellow is illegal in France.”
Ms. Galli, who was not wearing yellow was simply told, “You have done something illegal,” but when pressed for an answer police pointed to her scarf emblazoned with the words “Falun Dafa.”
The group’s passports were confiscated and they were held in a police van for 5 hours, and then driven to a police station where they were held for several hours more. They were released after their bags were searched.
The incident came on the heels of denial for permission to participate in the Chinese New Year parade held on January 24th, under intense pressure from the Chinese government.
According to coordinator Alexis Gemin, who helps organize Falun Gong activities in France, Paris officials told him they would not be let into the parade due to enormous pressure from the Chinese government. Mr. Gemin said that the Chinese Embassy threatened to cancel all participation if Falun Gong were allowed into the parade.
Gemin added that Chinese newspapers in Paris also started to publish statements like, “Everything needs to be done to prevent Falun Gong from creating trouble.”
In response, Falun Gong practitioners held a joint press conference with several human rights organizations in Paris on January 21st. They presented a petition appealing to the French government to let Falun Gong participate in the parade. Among organizations joining the press conference were Amnesty International, Together Against Death Penalty, and Reporters Without Borders.
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