The hearing of the appeal for the "Obstruction Case" mainly centred on how to define what is appropriate with respect to obstructing public space during appeal activities. The verdict might influence the future application of the Summary Offences Ordinance. Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li said, to decide whether an appeal activity should be stopped, the key point lies in whether the obstruction of the public place was reasonable. Otherwise the public would be denied the right to appeal.
The appeal tests the independence of the Hong Kong judicial system
After the hearing was over, spokesperson for the Hong Kong Falun Dafa Association Kan Hung-cheung commented to reporters that the submission made by the appellants' lawyer, who represented the Falun Gong practitioners, was well presented. He said this appeal case was a test for the independence of the Hong Kong judicial system, and hoped that the court would make a fair decision.
Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li emphasised in court that any single appeal would, to some extent, cause the public inconvenience, and we have to balance the rights of all parties.
The appellants' lawyer, Mr. John Haynes, specifically pointed out that there were very few pedestrians last year on the sidewalk in front of the China Liaison Authorities Office. Additionally, parking and crossing the street are not allowed on this section of the road. Obviously, any small or medium-sized peaceful appeal taking place on this street would not bring too much inconvenience to the public. Actually, the blockades that the police placed in front and behind the peaceful appellants truly obstructed the public.
In addition, the appellants' lawyer, Paul Haynes, also pointed out that the sixteen Falun Gong practitioners were appealing for the urgent situation that the practitioners in mainland China were facing; and, its nature was somewhat different from the appeal that is usually held in front of the 162 Connaught Road,. Therefore, the location for the appeal should not be limited to the 162 Connaught Road. As to the point that Falun Gong practitioners insisted on staying on 162 Connaught Road for their peaceful appeal, Paul Haynes believed that under the Chinese flag, people should be allowed the right to express themselves.
The persecution has spread to Hong Kong.
Before the 'Obstruction Case' occurred, there were always Falun Gong practitioners peacefully sitting in on the sidewalk on 162 Connaught Road near the China Liaison Authorities Office. Early last year, because the Changchun TV broadcasting incident occurred, the former president of the Chinese government issued the order to 'kill without pardon,' ordering public security officers to shoot any Falun Gong practitioners who were seen handing out flyers on the street.
Kan Hung-cheung believed that no matter what the court verdict is, the 'Obstruction Case' reveals that Jiang's persecution of Falun Gong has spread to Hong Kong. The case itself not only involves legal perspectives, but also involves the issues of justice and conscience. He believes that if the court upholds justice, the verdict will be a favourable one.
Considering Suing Jiang in Hong Kong
Kan Hung-cheung informed reporters that in addition to the United States and Belgium, there are several other countries including Canada, Great Britain, Australia, Germany, and Switzland where Falun Gong practitioners decided to sue Jiang for genocide, torture and crimes against humanity. Hong Kong practitioners are also thinking about the possibility of suing Jiang. He added that the 'Obstruction Case' would become one piece of evidence used in the lawsuit.
Falun Gong practitioner Eric Bachmann who came from Switzerland for the hearing had to leave Hong Kong today because his visa expired. He said he would continue to expose the facts of Jiang's regime persecuting Falun Gong, and hopes the persecution will come to an end.
Eric pointed out that the Swiss people pay great attention to human rights. However, when Jiang's regime promised to have dialogues with the Swiss government about human rights issues, it also demanded that the Swiss government not release its comments on China's human rights situation. Eric believes that the Swiss have the right to know about the human rights situation in China.
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