Ottawa, Canada, August 3 -- Canadian Falun Gong practitioners held a news conference inside the Parliament Building on August 2 and are rallying across the country today, in front of the Chinese Embassy and Consulates and the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, to appeal for attention and help to end the ongoing political prosecution of Swiss and Hong Kong Falun Gong practitioners by Hong Kong police. They also expressed serious concerns for Hong Kong's reputation as a free and democratic society.

On March 14, 2002, four Falun Gong practitioners from Switzerland and 12 from Hong Kong held a peaceful sit-in appeal and hunger strike in front of the Chinese Liaison Office in Hong Kong in order to express disapproval of Chinese President Jiang Zemin's secret orders to shoot Falun Gong practitioners. Several hours into the appeal, at the request of the P.R.C.'s Liaison Office, Hong Kong policemen arrived at the site of the appeal and violently took the 16 practitioners into custody. Subsequently, the police filed charges against the practitioners for "obstruction of sidewalk" and "attacking police." The trial started on June 17 and is ongoing, but is supposed to end on Monday August 5.

During the news conference inside the Ottawa Parliament building, Falun Gong practitioners played video footage taken at the scene that shows Hong Kong police violently arresting peaceful demonstrators. (Video footage and photos can be viewed or downloaded from:

Lucy Zhou, the organizer of the news conference, said: "If the Chinese president, Jiang Zemin, were not persecuting Falun Gong, there would be no need for peaceful appeals. These 16 practitioners stood up for justice for the millions of people in China who face slander, threats, arrests, imprisonments, torture, and even murder every day. Police and law enforcement should uphold justice, help the good, and punish the bad. This case is not a normal trial, but the Jiang regime's attempts to silence all voices against his brutal persecution. Hong Kong's good reputation for freedom and democracy is under serious attack. We appeal for all to pay serious attention to the situation and dismiss this political prosecution."

She said the police's accusation of "obstruction" and "attacking police" were groundless. It can be clearly seen from on-site video footage of the appeal and just looking at the numbers that on the spacious sidewalk outside the Chinese Liaison Office, the appealing Falun Gong practitioners took up a very small amount of room and did not obstruct any officials or pedestrians from entering or exiting the building, or from just passing by. It is even less feasible to call the banners that the practitioners held in their hands obstructions. It is even less likely for the Falun Gong practitioners to assault the police when the hordes of policemen clearly arrested the practitioners with violence. The Hong Kong police authorities conducted the forceful arrest without a warrant, which was in itself an illegal activity.

Zhou said: "This trial originally was expected to last about 11 days but now it has been prolonged again and again for over 40 days. During the trial, the judge has been very biased."

Recently, the Falun Dafa Association of Canada and Friends of Falun Gong (Canada) wrote to the Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa, the Hong Kong Justice Department, and the Hong Kong public, appealing to the international community and media to call for moral support to end this political prosecution.

This case has drawn international attention regarding whether Hong Kong can truly implement the "One Country, Two Systems" policy. The British government last month issued a half-year report on Hong Kong and expressed serious concerns over the Hong Kong government's suppression of protests, highlighting this ongoing trial. The report explained how, ironically, the Hong Kong government later dug up pavement at the very spot where the Falun Gong practitioners were arrested for obstruction, and subsequently erected wooden barricades where Falun Gong practitioners had staged their daily appeals.

In this report, the British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw stated that, "It is vital... that the basic rights and freedoms afforded to the people of Hong Kong through the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law continue to be upheld." The report went on to say that the British government "believes that freedom of assembly and freedom of speech must not be compromised if Hong Kong is to retain its image as a free and open society."