Banned In China Ottawa

Apparently, if you belong to a persecuted group you are assumed to be protesting, so you are not allowed to participate in Ottawa’s Canadian Tulip Festival “Where Ideas Bloom”.

The Ottawa Citizen reported “Organizers of the Canadian Tulip Festival faced accusations of censorship yesterday for the last-minute cancellation of a performance by a marching band of Falun Gong practitioners during one of the festival's opening ceremonies.” The Citizen article further stated “Organizers claim that had festival staff known the Tian Guo Marching Band were all Falun Gong members, they never would have been booked at the festival.” The article also stated “"We came here to celebrate a cultural event, and our religion should not stop us from participating," band spokeswoman Grace Wollensak said”

One can only wonder if the organizers would have said the same thing about a group of Catholics or Jews or even Muslims.

The only justification given was an assumption that the group was going to protest because they are known to be persecuted by the Chinese government, and the Chinese Embassy is a sponsor of the Festival and had a representative at the event.

I would like to draw readers to the following summary of facts posted on the CBC website by “GraceW”.

I feel obliged to clarify some facts:

1. We just applied to perform at Dow’s lake, not at the opening ceremony.

2. We send the link of the band in the application so the Tulip officer had chance to know everything about the band. http://tianguoband.org/, where the past performances (70 parades in community/cultural events in two years), as well as Falun Gong connection and uniforms are all clearly presented.

3. After the review of our materials, the program coordinator invited the band to play at the opening ceremony: O Canada and Maple Leaf Forever

4. The band accepted the invitation as an honor, not intent to ‘hijack’ the event as organizer claimed.

5. The appearance of the band at the Tulip Festival has no difference from the photos in the link that we sent to the Tulip Festival program coordinator. In another words, the band dressed up exactly the same as they did in the St. Patrick parade in Ottawa earlier this year and won the award of ‘Best Band’. Nobody accused of the band as ‘political’ or ‘protest’. http://tianguoband.org/News/2008/2008-03-15-St.Patrick-Ottawa.html

6. The fact is that we were removed on the basis of our name being shown. What political messages could be carried by playing O Canada and Maple Leaf Forever.

7. The band represents a cultural group that wants to participate in Canadian activities as ordinary members of this multi-cultural society. The identify of the band members should not be judged or discriminated.

8. Falun Gong is not a protest word. It is the name of our group. The fact that we are persecuted, and protest the persecution, it is not our fault and does not mean our name must be hidden from public view. If that were true, then no one should be allowed to use the words "African-American," "Jewish," etc., in a community event. In fact, suggesting such is already siding with the persecutor, accepting that there is something wrong with this group.

9. The band has performed in over 70 community events and has won numerous awards. To say the band's effort to join this community event was a "stunt" is insulting.
I think all governments, federal, provincial, and municipal should rethink their funding of this event in relation to the organizers disregard of Canada’s constitutionally entrenched policies of freedom of religion and multiculturalism.

And the organizers should be ashamed to call themselves Canadians.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting article, however it is pretty one sided. If we look at it from the organizer's perspective: they have Chinese representatives sponsoring their program and attending as guests of honor, to have Falun Gong which is considered a cult in China perform is a sort of insult. This could lead to deteriation of international relations etc.. etc..

is it likely to happen? No. Could it possibly? Yes. The possibility itself should be enough to justify canceling their performing because a small performance is not worth risking international relations.

Of course, I do agree that canceling at the last moment is a dick thing to do.