The Mainland Affairs Council issued a strongly worded statement yesterday protesting the Hong Kong government's mistreatment of Taiwanese members of the Falun Gong meditation group.
The Cabinet-level council, which charts Taiwan's policy toward China, Hong Kong and Macau, issued the statement after about 40 Taiwan Falun Gong followers were denied entry to Hong Kong Friday to attend a Falun Gong conference yesterday.
All of the Taiwan Falun Gong followers were forcefully repatriated back to the island last evening, even though they had valid Hong Kong visas. According to the MAC, Hong Kong immigration officials even rudely treated some Taiwan followers, tying them up in anti-riot blankets and forcing then on Taiwan-bound aircraft.
"We protest this kind of mistreatment of our citizens," the MAC said in the statement, adding that it has ordered Taiwan's representative office to ask the Hong Kong government to stop such unfriendly actions immediately and never to repeat them.
"We hereby express our gravest protest toward the violence and disregard of human rights by the Hong Kong government," the MAC said.
"We are hopeful that the Hong Kong government will make a positive response to our protest to avoid spoiling the bilateral amity and sabotaging its own international image," the MAC said.
Dozens of Taiwan Falun Gong followers gave a joint news conference earlier in the day to express their grievance and protest against the Hong Kong government's mistreatment of them.
They urged the Hong Kong government not to be subservient to the leaders in Beijing. "Hong Kong leaders should refrain from becoming Beijing's tools to suppress human rights and freedom of religion in the territory," a representative said.
At least 10 of those barred from entering Hong Kong have alleged they were treated violently when they argued with immigration officials, the organization's liaison officer Flora Chang said.
One of the victims, Lu Li-ching, said she suffered bruises to her hands and mouth when she was escorted by force to the plane.
"Eight riot policemen wrapped me up with a blanket," Lu told AFP.
"A flight attendant witnessing the scene told me she had never seen police resort to such brutalities on civilians," Lu added.
The spiritual group, which combines [gentle exercises and Master Lis teaching], was banned by China in July 1999 [ ] but remains legal in Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China.
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