Beyond the blue wall: Falun Dafa

Story Astrid Alsemgeest

I can’t even remember when they first appeared. Sometimes, I barely notice them as I speed past on my way to downtown. Then there are times when I glance over, and see a lone figure sitting in a small shed on the sidewalk, unaffected by the rush hour traffic or the eerie emptiness of the early morning hours. The Falun Dafa have now been protesting in front of the Chinese Consulate on Granville Street for over four years.

The Chinese Consulate is located at the top of South Granville Rise, a bustling shopping strip on the border of Vancouver’s elite Shaughnessy neighbourhood. From the street, one can only manage a brief glimpse of the second story windows that are hidden behind a lush curtain of evergreens and a foreboding stone wall. Nothing sets this building apart from the many other large homes in wealthy Shaughnessy, except for the massive blue wall that has been erected in front of it. “Stop the Killing” is written in massive letters on this wall, along with countless other messages, demanding justice for the practitioners of Falun Dafa being persecuted by the Chinese government.

Mansour Sedighi began this protest in the summer of 2001, after learning of the arrest and alleged murder of 16 female Falun Dafa practitioners by the Chinese government. Sedighi, a Falun Dafa practitioner since 1999, felt compelled to protest this brutal act. “I just wanted to do something. I got permission from the City, I got a tent, and I sat for 13 days in front of the consulate,” he says.

Faithfully And Quietly Protesting

As the Chinese government continues to be accused of human rights abuses, including the deaths of Falun Dafa practitioners, Sedighi’s protest has grown. It now includes between 20 and 30 people who continually preside over what has become an established camp outside the consulate. The protesters rotate in shifts of one or two people, 24 hours a day.

The protesters spend their time outside the consulate reading about Falun Dafa, practising the teachings and meditating. “We oppose persecution in a non-violent way,” says Sedighi. “We are very determined, and very faithful. The genesis of Falun Dafa is compassion. No matter how they treat us, we react with compassion.”

The Falun Dafa presence outside of the Vancouver consulate is part of an international effort to bring awareness to the abuses being committed by the Chinese government. It is Sedighi’s belief that through their continued protest against the Chinese government, “many truths will come, and secrets will be revealed.”

In the past several years, many governments and human rights organizations around the world have criticized the Chinese government’s treatment of Falun Dafa. In 2000, Amnesty International proclaimed, “The international community cannot watch silently while these gross human rights violations are taking place. It must condemn these abuses and put pressure on China to take action to stop them.”

Sedighi and many others will continue their vigil on the sidewalk of Granville Street for the indefinite future. The employees of the Chinese Consulate, as well as the citizens of Vancouver, will continue to be faced with a small, yet determined, group of peaceful protesters, patiently waiting for their message to be heard.