The Ottawa Citizen [Canadian newspaper]: Yes, protest can be embarrassing

January 18, 2002

Although its apologists insist the People's Republic of China is moving toward democracy and free speech, the truth is that the government in Beijing is tyrannical. We may safely assume its representatives abroad don't fancy dissent either. Falun Gong, for instance, has been protesting near the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa for two years. We imagine the diplomats inside don't much like the embarrassment caused when members of this peaceful movement tell passers-by about Falun Gong practitioners jailed or killed in China.

Recently, a representative of The Federation of Ottawa-Carleton Chinese Organizations tried to persuade municipal politicians to no longer give Falun Gong the city permit that allows it to demonstrate. The argument given was that the presence of the protesters near the embassy was a safety risk. In fact, the only risk from such protests is a loss of face for the Chinese government.

Sensibly, city politicians agreed that Falun Gong could continue exercising its right to peaceful protest and freedom of speech. Peaceful protest? Free speech? Novel concepts in China. It's a pity they were even challenged here.

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