(Clearwisdom.net) Under pressure from Jiang's regime, the Hong Kong government prosecuted Falun Gong practitioners who had peacefully appealed outside the Chinese Liaison Office on March 14, 2002, using charges of "public obstruction" and "obstructing and assaulting police." The case was brought to court today. Sixteen accused Falun Gong practitioners resolutely denied the false charges made against them and plan to clarify the truth in court. The practitioners believe that justice will be upheld, and hope that the court will give a fair and just verdict and return the innocent reputation to the victims.

In the morning, the sixteen practitioners, dressed neatly, calmly entered the court. Delegates from the Swiss Consulate, some local practitioners and five Western practitioners who came from Switzerland were in attendance. There were also many reporters, since this trial has raised international concerns, and has also become a big test to Hong Kong's "One country, two systems" mandate. The sixteen practitioners stopped briefly before entering the court. They faced reporters with smiles on their faces, while holding a banner reading "Falun Dafa is good."

The trial progressed slowly, as it involved four different languages. The court was conducted in English first, and then simultaneously translated into Cantonese, Mandarin and German. This demonstrated the issue that the Jiang regime's suppression of Falun Gong reaches beyond simply being a Chinese issue, but is also an issue of international concern.

This political persecution has raised concern from the governments of free countries around the world, as well as from NGOs. The Swiss government sent delegates to observe the court proceedings. Four Swiss Congressmen and four State Congressmen from Geneva and some international human rights organizations, including The International Society for Human Rights--Swiss Section and ACAT-Switzerland, have written to the Hong Kong SAR Government urging it to drop the charges against the 16 innocent practitioners.

Hong Kong Falun Gong practitioners pointed out: the Jiang regime not only relentlessly persecutes Falun Gong in China, it also exerts huge pressure on different countries, in its usual threatening manner, to extend its violent persecution of Falun Gong overseas, as happened during Jiang's visit to Iceland, where Falun Gong practitioners were denied entry into the country. Jiang demanded that he not see any people wearing bright yellow clothing during his visit to Germany. Jiang also demanded that the Indonesian government stop a Falun Gong parade that had already obtained proper police approval. The unreasonable arrest and prosecution of Hong Kong Falun Gong practitioners who have peacefully appealed is another case of the Jiang regime manipulating the police and governments outside China to persecute Falun Gong practitioners.

In accordance with Hong Kong's basic law, Falun Gong practitioners, like all Hong Kong citizens, enjoy the freedom of speech, assembly and belief, and have the right to be free from unlawful infringement. The sixteen practitioners peacefully appealed outside the Chinese Liaison Office to request the Chinese government to stop its persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. Their actions were peaceful, rational, solemn and orderly, and they were justifiable, reasonable and legal. However, the Hong Kong authorities forcefully arrested them and contrived charges to prosecute them. This apparently was done due to pressure from Mainland Chinese authorities. The charges brought are not based on the facts or actual evidence. These actions seriously violate human rights and dignity of these peacefully appealing citizens.

The 16 accused Falun Gong practitioners are Swiss practitioners Erich Bachmann, Roland Isenschmid, LAM Duy Quoc, Simone Claudia Schlegel-Gurnefelder, and Hong Kong residents CHEE Fei-ming, CHAU Sing, LAM Chi-for, Jenny Lee, LAU Wai-hing, LAU Yuk-ling, LU Jie, TSANG Hau-sim, TSE Lai-sim, TSO Chi-sin, WONG Yiu-hing and YEUNG Mei-wan.

On March 14, 2002, when they were holding a small-scale peaceful appeal on the wide sidewalk outside the front gate of the Chinese Liaison Office in protest of the Jiang regime's brutal persecution of Mainland Falun Gong practitioners, they were forcefully removed by Hong Kong police, using the excuse of "public obstruction." Later, 16 practitioners were charged with public obstruction, nine with "obstructing the police in carrying out their duties", and three with "assaulting police officers". Later,the charge of obstructing the police was expanded to be brought against nine practitioners instead of the original three that were previously charged.

It is estimated that the trial will continue for eleven days in court. The judge repeatedly told the 16 practitioners that he guaranteed that they would understand the entire process of the trial and their rights would be protected.

Falun Gong practitioners call upon all countries, NGOs and kind-hearted people who support peace and justice to pay attention to the proceedings of the trial and assist the Hong Kong SAR Government to correct its mistake, to restore justice and to repair the damage that has been done.