Everyone awaits the courts decision on Thursday [15th August] with baited breath. It is a grand opening of sorts, the first time a trial has been conducted against the Falun Gong movement, which up until now is still legal. That is precisely what we mean when we speak of a dangerous erosion of freedom and of institutions, said Law Yuk-Kai, director of the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, the human rights organization having the largest number of members in this city. These people are not standing trial for disturbing the public order, but for disturbing China. [..]
The Falun Gong trial is not an isolated indicator that the two-term head of state of Hong Kong, Tung Chee-hwa, sanctioned by Beijing, uses harsher methods. Last February, three young Hong Kong citizens had organized a student demonstration without having the proper permits. Three months later the police knocked on their doors. They sent a special team trained to deal with hard-core, violent criminals, relates Law Yuk-Kai. In a scene worthy of a movie segment, the police roused the students from their beds at 7:00 oclock in the morning. They woke up all the neighbours. This kind of thing only happens when loan sharks try to find notorious deadbeats who refuse to pay. That incident was also a first since Hong Kong reverted back to China in 1997.
But all these related incidents are only a preamble to a much larger step Hong Kongs government is now willing to take, albeit under duress from Beijing: Hong Kong is soon to ratify an anti-subversion law, as has been spelled out in Article 23 of her Constitution. Critics view this law as the biggest danger for the freedom of Hong Kong, saying it leaves the door wide open for arbitrary actions. Among other things, such a law would prohibit contact by local groups with other political organizations abroad, which effectively covers all human rights organizations within the City and, of course, Falun Gong.
Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Qian Qichen had this to say in response to a question from Hong Kongs TV Station TVB, If they have any further contact with foreign powers, it would create problems for Hong Kong and would constitute a breach of law.
By Kai Strittmatter
(Original text in German)
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