Radio Free Asia: Falun Gong Association in Hong Kong Urges France to Apologize for Detaining Practitioners
(Clearwisdom net) On February 2, 2004, Yan Ming of Radio Free Asia reported the following during a broadcast.
To protest the escalation of the persecution of Falun Gong overseas, Falun Gong practitioners in Hong Kong demonstrated outside the French consulate in Hong Kong. They delivered a letter to the consulate, urging the French government to apologize for detaining practitioners during Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to France. Yan Ming also reported on the court case against Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel and Towers, which canceled the Falun Gong Association's leasing contract. The parties involved failed to reach a settlement.
Late in January, during Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to France, police in Paris detained dozens of Falun Gong practitioners. Among the detainees were practitioners from Britain, Germany, France, Taiwan, and Norway. They were detained for no other reason than for wearing yellow scarves and clothes, and not having a license to distribute flyers. The Hong Kong Falun Dafa Association's press release let it be known that this was based on Jiang Zemin and his associates using economic benefits to exert pressure on foreign governments. This is a clear instance of a government caving in to such pressure and becoming a participant in the persecution of Falun Gong, extending the persecution overseas.
On Monday morning, a group of Falun Gong practitioners demonstrated next to the West District Police Station and outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong. In the afternoon, over 40 practitioners meditated at Charter Garden; among them were many elderly and children. They urged that the French government take this issue seriously and remedy their misconduct.
Kan Hung-Cheung, the spokesman for Hong Kong's Falun Gong Association, said that most practitioners were sitting there quietly. Only two practitioners went to the French Consulate to deliver the appeal letter.
Kan: The consulate felt pressured and asked that not too many people call on them, which we can understand. Therefore, after a satisfactory discussion, two people were invited to the embassy.
The two practitioners were two spokespersons of the Hong Kong Falun Gong Association: Hui Cheung Yee-han and Lu Jie.
Hui: We wrote a letter to the French President and requested that the Consul General deliver it. We urged the French President in this letter to investigate the unprecedented occurrence last week, in which French police detained at least 30 Falun Gong practitioners without just cause. We asked for a public apology.
We met with the press consul. We spoke for 40 minutes, during which we clarified the truth about Falun Gong. We enunciated that we practice Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance and that we are innocent. He recognizes the situation, for he was in Beijing in 1999 and is familiar with the peaceful appeal of April 25, followed by the official ban of Falun Gong on July 20. He asked for detailed information about the 30 practitioners detained by French police. He said he couldn't apologize on behalf of the French government, but he suggested that the practitioners who were detained should file a complaint with the Minister of Domestic Affairs.
The court case regarding Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel and Towers' canceling the Falun Gong Association's lease contract was heard by the court last week. Last February, Falun Gong practitioners signed a lease with the Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel and Towers for a hall that would hold 1,000 people for an International Experience Sharing Conference. Surprisingly, 7 days before the conference, the Sheraton Hotel cancelled the lease. The Falun Gong Association asked for 50,000 Hong Kong dollars in compensation, to which the hotel agreed. Regrettably, Sheraton included a condition in the settlement that required the Falun Gong Association not to publicize the issue. The Falun Gong Association refused to accept this condition, as this stymied their freedom of speech. Thus, they filed a complaint with the court for reparation. Last Thursday, the court granted a hearing. Neither parties were able to agree to the others' demands, and thus no settlement could be reached. The court set a trial date for March 29. The Sheraton Hotel's legal argument was that it canceled the lease for security reasons, given world unrest.
At the beginning of last year, the U.S. government held worldwide government anti-terrorism discussions. The Chinese government wished to use this opportunity to have Falun Gong designated a terrorist organization. An RFA reporter asked the Sheraton Hotel Public Relation's Manager to comment, but he declined. The Falun Dafa Association's spokesman Kan Hung-Cheung said, "This happened around the time when the draft version of Article 23 was brought out for discussion. There was a lot of attention on our group. The hotel lease incident happening at that time causes one to deeply think about the reasons."
February 3, 2004