South China Morning Post: HK freedoms lost, says Falun Gong

07/02/2002

About 200 Falun Gong members who gathered in Wan Chai to protest accused the government of undermining the territory's freedoms after police kept them hundreds of metres away from President Jiang Zemin yesterday.

Members of the movement, many from Europe, America and Asian countries, had waited outside Immigration Tower since Friday. They had hoped to protest against Mr Jiang, who officiated at the swearing-in ceremony for Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa's second term.

However, police barred them from going near the ceremony at the Convention and Exhibition Centre. The practitioners were confined to an area outside Immigration Tower, more than 200 metres from Mr Jiang.

The group asked police to allow about 20 members near the Convention Centre to read out a declaration. But they were only permitted to read it out at 11.30am - when the swearing-in ceremony had finished.

Falun Gong spokesman Kan Hung-cheung said police action had damaged Hong Kong's reputation as a free and open society. More than 100 overseas Falun Gong members had been denied entry into Hong Kong, he said.

"I believe the government has a blacklist given to it by the central government. They gave in to the political pressure," he said.

The group said that over the past year it had submitted more than 50 applications to rent public venues for conferences, all of which had been turned downwards.

"These incidents are making a mockery of the freedoms and rule of law that Hong Kong people have been so proud of," the declaration read. "We call on the Hong Kong SAR government to genuinely defend human rights."


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