Some of the melodies the band in blue and white plays seem familiar to the spectators. The sixtieth Bollenstreek Flower parade begins in Noordwijk and goes from Hillegom to Haarlem. The familiar tune is Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
On the flyers distributed by practitioners supporting the European Celestial Band is an internet link, which reveals the band's background and the name of one of the songs in its repertoire: Falun Dafa is Good. Falun Dafa is another word for Falun Gong, the spiritual movement forbidden in China and persecuted so brutally.
One mouse click and we know how harshly: a colour photo shows a dead Falun Gong practitioner who, according to the caption, has been killed for his organs (organ harvesting). Realistic drawings show the torture techniques that China uses against Falun Gong adherents. The images stand in stark contrast with the Flower parade theme ‘celebration’.
Peter Houben, chairman of the Falun Gong Association Netherlands, says that during the parade on Saturday about 20.000 flyers had been distributed. Houben says the complete band consists of Falun Gong practitioners; some of them would have undergone torture themselves. “One of the websites mentioned in the flyer, shows details about torture, yes. But that’s just how horrible it reality is”. Houben also said that from about fifty Dutch Falun Gong practitioners, fifteen play in the band. The band has been around for just a short period, since the end of last year. The purpose is not just making music, but “bringing the persecution of Falun Gong in China to the attention”, says Houben. “We want the Dutch people to become aware of this”.
The same morning Falun Dafa gave a performance in The Hague in protest against Communism in China. According to Houben, the Chinese government always tries to block Falun Gong activities, “but they didn’t know about the participation in the Flower parade. So they couldn’t do anything to stop our participation.”
The organisers of the Flower parade could not be reached for comment.
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