Ukraine: Falun Gong Barred from Holding Annual Activity in Kiev

It appears the Chinese Embassy in Ukraine has asked the government there to block a meditation group from holding their annual event in Kiev. And the Ukrainian government agreed—in a move that some say violates the country’s constitution.

Followers of Falun Gong, also called Falun Dafa, have held small events like this one in Kiev every May 13th for several years now.

[Olga Zubakova, Falun Gong Practitioner]:

„May 13th is World Falun Dafa Day, and every year we come to Independence Square to give people leaflets, give out [origami] lotus flowers, and do our exercises. However, this year this activity has been blocked.“

The Pechersky District Court held a last-minute hearing on May 12th where the judge blocked Falun Gong practitioners from holding their event the next day.

The case was filed by the mayor’s office. But it was originally sparked by this letter from Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It says the Chinese Embassy asked the Ministry to prohibit the Falun Gong event—because it would, „Disrupt the bilateral relationship between Ukraine and China.“

[Vladimir Cheremis, Ukraine Human Rights Lawyer]: (male, Ukrainian)
„The letter from the Chinese government to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs—where the Chinese government demands the Constitution of Ukraine to be violated by way of prohibiting a peaceful public activity—is interference in Ukraine’s internal affairs.“

Falun Gong practitioners in Ukraine say the reasoning given by the court is flawed.

[Olga Zubakova, Falun Gong Practitioner]:
„They prohibited our activity on the grounds that we violate residents‘ rights to good health and free passage. This is untrue. We show exercises that help people become healthy. People that practice Falun Gong become calm. And we are not in the way of the passers-by, since we stand over on the side.“

Falun Gong practitioners have held similar activities over the past several years.

[Vladimir Cheremis, Ukraine Human Rights Lawyer]:
„I know that this organization has held many activities in Ukraine, including appeals in front of the Chinese Embassy. I also monitored them. There were no disruptions of public order, and no complaints from the police.“

Unable to hold their activity in Kiev’s main square, many practitioners went to the Chinese Embassy. They tried to hold a peaceful appeal there, but police blocked them without providing a legal reason, and seemingly without receiving sufficient notice themselves.

[NTD Reporter]:
„Did you know this activity would be prohibited?“

„I did not know. Nobody told me ahead of time. They just told me to come here.“

The group believes the Chinese communist regime is ultimately behind the court decision. The regime has been persecuting Falun Gong practitioners inside China since 1999, sending more than 100 thousand to forced labor camps.

And exposing this persecution has long been a part of practitioners‘ activities around the world.

[Armina, Falun Gong Practitioner]:
„We would like to share our compassion with the passers-by and also tell them about the persecution in China, so it can be stopped as soon as possible.“

NTD News, Kiev, Ukraine.