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The Chinese New Year is a time for family and community. But this year in New York City's Chinatown, a group is being excluded from taking part in the New Year parade. Some say the Chinese regime is behind the ban.
It's an annual tradition in New York City—the Chinese New Year's parade in Chinatown. Yet this year not everyone is welcome. In past years, Falun Gong practitioners were invited to join the parade, but not in 2012.
[Wenyi Wang, Falun Gong Practitioner]:
"When we went to inquire, they said they would not let us take part. The reason was vague and unclear. We felt this was very strange, but then we found out that the Chinese consulate was joining in the parade. So the probable reason is very clear."
The Chinese regime has been persecuting the Chinese spiritual practice Falun Gong since 1999. The regime has tortured over 3000 practitioners to death. In recent years, the regime has been exerting its influence overseas. In London in 2011, a Falun Gong group was banned from holding a banner reading their name in a New Year's parade, and now in New York they are barred from even taking part. Local Chinese suspect the Chinese regime's influence.
[Wong Yu-Chen, Chairman, Linsing Association]:
"Every year the New Year's parade has invited a Falun Gong group to take part, and it has been very spectacular and very good. Why won't Chinatown accept them? That would be prejudice on the part of the organizing committee. It seems they have been politically pressured to not let Falun Gong join in. This is really sad, really bad. I really oppose this situation."
[Jack Eng, Chairman, Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association]:
"People should all celebrate the Lunar New Year together, this is important. People shouldn't say we don't like you, what do they fear? This is not a valid reason