ANSA: Li Lanqing's Visit to Florence Encounters Appeal from Falun Gong

ANSA (Italian National Press Agency) - May 25, 2002

Falung Gong practitioners staged a protest against the behaviour of the security people attached to the chinese delegation, lead by the vice premier Li lanqing, during its visit to Florence.

According to their reports, several practitioners of this spiritual movement, banned in China since July 1999, have been pressured to leave the area.

A total of thirty Falung Gong practitioners, accompanied by the radical party representative Massimo Lenzi, have been gathered today in Cavour road, on the occasion of the meeting between Li Lanqing and the president of Regione Toscana Claudio Martini, at Bastogi palace.

The demonstration had been authorized by the local police headquarters, who enforced a single condition: to stay at least fifty metres away from the palace.

"When the Chinese security people saw us", explains Diego Manca, the Italian press attaché of the movement, "they became nervous. They wanted us to go away from Cavour road. Besides, it has been closed to traffic for two hours, to cater for the secret meeting."

One of the Chinese security people did try to drive away an Italian reporter, who was taking a few pictures. In any case, no problems of public order have arisen. When the meeting was finished, the group of demonstrators - who praised the behavior of policemen and carabineers - spread out and scattered, waving some isolated Tibetan flags or Falung Gong banners, as the chinese delegation cars passed by.

"We have achieved our aim," said Alfredo Fava, the Italian spokesman of the movement, "we wished to show them that Falun Gong is here too".

"We want from now until the next Olympic games," the Radical Party's Massimo Lenzi added, "to build a path to allow China to achieve political freedom. But this can happen only if all the Institutions, which are China's economic partners, insist on such direction. I hope that president Martini, in his current meeting with the chinese vice premier, has formally denounced the violation of the human rights which is occurring in China".

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