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A Chinese New Year parade in Mexico turned sour last weekend when a group of men started tearing apart one of the floats. Practitioners of the Falun Gong spiritual group in Mexico City say the Chinese Embassy ordered locals to stop them from participating.
Falun Gong practitioners joined the Lunar New Year celebrations in Mexico City's Chinatown on February 5th. But as things were getting underway, a group of men began tearing down their float. Local Falun Gong practitioners say the men were directed by the Chinese embassy, extending the Chinese Communist Party's persecution of the spiritual group abroad.
This footage was captured by mobile phone. This man, Héctor López, represents Chinese merchants in the area. Last year, Lopez told our NTD reporter that the Chinese embassy does not want Falun Gong practitioners there. Chinese authorities apparently pressured Lopez and other merchants to keep Falun Gong out or the merchants would face problems when making business trips to China.
In July 1999, the Chinese Communist Party began a brutal persecution of Falun Gong. That campaign has extended overseas through embassies and consulates in countries including the United States and Australia.
The group of men tore down banners, removed other decorations and then this canvas with anti-persecution messages. The men travelled in vans belonging to the government of Mexico City's Cuahutemoc District. Police are seen standing by as the incident took place.
Later that day, Falun Gong practitioners managed to retrieve the float materials. They participated in the parade the next day. But for this woman, Mrs. Li, the incident is a reminder of the persecution in her home country: China.
[Mrs. Li, Falun Gong Practitioner]:
"I wouldn't like for something like that to happen here, because we do have human rights and we have freedom of speech and freedom of belief."