Special Dispatch

News from Hong Kong, August 16, 2002: 16 Falun Gong practitioners including Swiss nationals and Hong Kong residents conducted a peaceful sit-in protest on March 14 outside China's de facto embassy in Hong Kong and were charged with obstruction and assaulting the police. On August 15 Hong Kong time, the judge made a controversial ruling and found the practitioners guilty of all seven charges. However, none of them were given jail sentences, but fines of between $167 and $487. Leung Kwok-hung, a female human rights activist sat in courtroom, and after hearing the verdict, she shouted, "Falun Gong is innocent!" before she left the room. Hong Kong Falun Gong spokesman Kan Hung-cheung said he was shocked by the "upside-down" conviction and they will appeal to restore the practitioners' reputation. Law Yuk-kai, director of the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, pointed out that the court convicted Falun Gong practitioners of obstruction in order to save face for the Chinese leaders. He suggests that the practitioners appeal and he will report this case to the United Nations and protest the Hong Kong government's violation of human rights.

Kan Hung-cheung: Jiang Zemin is the One Who Should be on Trial

Hong Kong Falun Gong spokesman Kan Hung-cheung said he was very shocked and extremely distressed by the courts' rulings. This was a verdict that confused right and wrong, since the judge accepted all of the plaintiff's one-sided evidence but completely rejected, ignored and even failed to mention the defendants' powerful evidence. He said, Jiang is the chief criminal behind this incident, and it is Jiang who should be tried. The 16 practitioners went to peacefully appeal in order to stop the Jiang regime's persecution and killing of Falun Gong practitioners in China. They just wanted to save innocent lives.

Kan Hung-cheung said that the arrest, trial, and conviction of the Falun Gong practitioners for their peaceful appeal proved that Jiang's persecution of Falun Gong has extended into Hong Kong. Jiang used some Hong Kong government employees such as police officers to do great harm to human rights and the law of Hong Kong. He even seriously harmed the "One Country, Two Systems" policy and Hong Kong's future.

Kan Hung-cheung stated that the court tried this case under unfair circumstances. However, he believes the Hong Kong justice system will eventually render a fair ruling. If the mistakes made in the first trial are not corrected, the Hong Kong people's confidence in the independent jurisdiction of the Hong Kong court will definitely be affected. We will firmly appeal until the practitioners' reputations are restored.

Law Yuk-kai: This is a Political Trial

Law Yuk-kai, director of the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, said that this is a political trial. As for the accusation of "obstruction," it was observed that several days after the protesters were arrested, the police still blocked the pedestrian path in front of China's de facto embassy in Hong Kong to keep people from freely passing, which proves the police do not truly care about "obstruction," but rather to save face for the Chinese leaders. If an appeal activity with about a dozen participants, who took up only a small portion of a 30 foot wide and 100 foot long sidewalk-- the portion which was on the side of the road--should be charged with obstruction, then there is no hope for any protest activity to be legally held at any public place in Hong Kong.

Law Yuk-kai said that the second important issue is that if our court uses such a narrow-minded interpretation of the law, then it would be very hard for any individual or any organization who is wrongfully persecuted to appeal and express themselves. The court did not respect the Hong Kong people's basic right to protest, appeal and peacefully assemble. He hopes the defendants will appeal to uphold the Hong Kong people's human rights.

Law Yuk-kai said that they will report this and other major cases since Hong Kong's return to China to the United Nations and protest the Hong Kong government's violation of human rights.

Anne Gretzimmermann, the Swiss consul in Hong Kong said that she was surprised at the court's decisions, as the freedom of expression is so important. They will continue to watch and to follow up.

After the trial, the 16 Falun Gong practitioners displayed banners that read, "We strongly protest Jiang Zemin's pressuring the Hong Kong government to persecute and wrongfully accuse Falun Gong practitioners," and "Falun Dafa is good." They also showed the pictures of their peaceful appeal on March 14, and how they were rudely carried away by the police. Right after the practitioners walked out of the court, news reporters surrounded them and interviewed and took pictures of them.

One of the defendants, practitioner Lau Wai-hing said she was very disappointed in this trial. The judge one-sidedly believed the police's evidence and witnesses, and flatteringly praised the police's violence, calling it "mercy." She pointed at the pictures showing the police assaulting practitioners and said, "Is this called mercy?"

Police Present: The Judge's Decision is Obviously Unjust

Nearly 20 police officers were sent out to maintain order at the West District Court. A deputy officer present said to a reporter that he thought the judge made a "very stupid" decision. It was very obvious that something was unjust.

Human Rights Activist Leung Kwok-hung: Falun Gong is Innocent!

After hearing the Falun Gong practitioners pronounced guilty, human rights activist Leung Kwok-hung shouted, "Falun Gong is innocent!" before she left the court. Later, she said to a news reporter that she was very angry when she heard the verdict. If Falun Gong practitioners' peaceful appeal should be counted as obstruction, then she couldn't protest from now on.

Leung Kwok-hung said she watched the videotape of the police pulling the practitioners, yet the judge was insensitive enough to claim the police were the ones who represented "Truth, Compassion, Tolerance," not Falun Gong. This is truly terrifying.

An old man passed the court and he walked toward the Falun Gong practitioners. He expressed his support and faith in the practitioners. He said, "Jiang Zemin's being a dictator will not have a good ending."

Seven Charges Stand, Fines of 29, 300 Yuan

The 16 practitioners were convicted of seven charges: the first one, "behavioral obstruction," with fines of 1,000 Yuan each for a total of 16,000 Yuan; the second one, "item obstruction," with fines of 300 Yuan each for a total of 4,800 Yuan; the third one, "obstructing the police from fulfilling their duty," of which nine practitioners were accused, 500 Yuan each, for a total of 4,500 Yuan; from the fourth to the seventh - "assaulting the police," with the fifth defendant Lu Jie fined 1,000 Yuan, the tenth defendant Lau Yuk-ling 2,000 Yuan, the third defendant Wong Yiu-hing 1,000 Yuan, for a total of 4,000 Yuan. The total amount of fines were 29,300 Yuan.