We live in a democratic society right? Well, not if you happen to be a member of the Chinese spiritual movement, Falun Gong.

The Auckland group have been denied the right to take part in Sunday's Santa Parade. And who made this decision? None other than Chairman of the Auckland Parade, Michael Barnett.

He's banned them because, he says, they might hand out - gasp - pamphlets! So much for religious freedom.

However Barnett is telling porkies because the Falun Gong group sent a letter to him on November 20, agreeing not to distribute pamphlets or any other literature that promoted their movement.

This is what John Yu, the group's president, said in his letter:

'As President of the Association I provide an undertaking to you that we are willing to abide by any relevant conditions that govern participants in the Parade. I also undertake that no distribution or dissemination of any Falun Dafa related material will occur at the Parade.'

Michael Barnett is also Chief Executive of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce and a director of the NZ Chambers of Commerce.

The real reason for Barnett's arbitrary decision - and he has said as much - is because the group openly campaigns against the persecution of its members in Stalinist China, or in Mr Barnett's morally-devoid view, they "attack a country that New Zealand has a relationship with".

Trade volume between China and New Zealand continues to increase and Barnett is a man prepared to turn a blind eye to human rights violations, both here and in China, for the sake of the almighty dollar.

However Barnett's stand is looking increasingly silly because the Falun Gong, after initially been denied participation, have now been allowed to join this weekend's Wellington Santa Parade, after human rights lawyer Tony Ellis filed for a judicial review in the High Court , arguing that there had been four major breaches of the Bill of Rights Act.

The organisers of the parade, Crackerjack Promotions, quickly had a change of heart.

Crackerjack are also the organisers of the Auckland Parade which kind of leaves the porky-telling Barnett without a leg to stand on.


  1. Sadly Michael Barnett again refused Falun Gong this year. If you reviewed the photos from last year's parade, you will be questioning yourself: what does Santa parade do with 2008 Olympic Games? Hundreds of Chinese waved their flags and banners with the music of Chinese national song as if they were marching on an Olympic torch rally in China rather than the Santa parade in here, Auckland. At that moment, I would like to know whether Michael had his eyes opened or closed.


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