15 August 2002

This is a wrong verdict, and a sad decision for the future of Hong Kong. At stake in this case are issues of great importance to the future of Hong Kong. They include: preservation of the inalienable rights enshrined in HK Basic Law, such as freedom of speech, freedom of belief, freedom of assembly and peaceful demonstration/protest, the right to be free from discrimination based upon one's spiritual beliefs, the integrity of the Criminal Justice System, and of course, the preservation of the integrity of the "one country, two-system" rule. Above all, it is against the wishes of the people of Hong Kong and elsewhere.

The Magistrate's verdict underscores his failure to find the inner strength and courage to follow the rule of law in the face of undue pressure and influence from Beijing. Many have observed that this trial, which lasted some 26 days and has featured one of the most prominent and senior of prosecutors -- a man who himself has never before tried a mere obstruction of pavement case -- has been politically motivated and unduly influenced by Beijing. Defense counsel Haynes and Harris have both observed that the government of Hong Kong charged the practitioners with obstructing the pavement in front of the Liaison Office, when in fact the evidence -- which includes the size of the pavement (40 square meters) and the size of the vigil (less than 7 square meters) -- indicates that such obstruction could not and did not occur.

According to defense counsel Haynes, "Both factors give the impression that the government of Beijing attached great importance to the outcome of this trial, that far more is at stake here than the mere obstruction of a pavement; that in fact this trial was manufactured so as to produce a guilty verdict."

This trial never should have occurred, and could not and would not have occurred in any democracy around the world. The facts of this case are clear: the Hong Kong police were acting under pressure from Jiang's regime, a regime that continues to wage violence against tens of millions of good people in China. This verdict also marks the arrival of "rule of Jiang" and the departure of "rule of law" in Hong Kong.

To the people of Hong Kong, we say: Our issue is your issue as well. Our freedom is directly related to your freedom. If Falun Gong is persecuted today, and you do not step in to intervene, it could be you who is persecuted tomorrow. We are holding these appeals not only for Falun Gong, but also for you and for the rest of the world-- for your way of life, your freedoms, and your future. When the rule of law is turned upside down to punish people for upholding the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance, SAR puts itself in danger. History has shown that without the rule of law and civil liberties, anyone can become a victim of tyranny.

The 16 Falun Gong practitioners (4 Swiss citizens) did nothing wrong. The only thing they obstructed was Jiang Zemin's killing order. They are heroes because they used peaceful means to appeal for justice for millions of good Chinese citizens persecuted in China. Any statement about this appeal that falls short of acknowledging its righteousness and selflessness is unjust. We hope that the leaders of Hong Kong will recognize their mistake and mitigate the enormous loss they have already incurred. For the sake of the future of Hong Kong and its people, we urge the government of Hong Kong to respect the will of its people and reverse its verdict.

We wish to engage in an open hearted dialogue with the Hong Kong government leader at the earliest opportunity. At the same time we wish to thank the many courageous individuals both in Hong Kong and elsewhere who have spoken up on behalf of Falun Gong, freedom, and fundamental human rights.

On a separate note, we were equally appalled to learn that, due to Beijing's pressure, one Chinese couple (also Falun Gong practitioners) who have obtained UN refugee status in Cambodia were deported and are now being held in Changsha Detention Center in China. This act was in direct violation of UN regulations. We call upon all government leaders and citizens of the world to continue speaking out and condemning Jiang Zemin's persecution in Mainland China, and his attempt to spread it outside the borders. We are especially appreciative of the US Congress for its recent, unanimous passage of Congressional Resolution 188, which reaffirmed its support for Falun Gong practitioners' fight for freedom.

Human rights is a moral issue. It is about protecting human dignity and about protecting individuals' right to freedom of conscience, association, and expression. We are resolved to continue our peaceful, nonviolent appeal, and work with the international community to bring an end to this modern-day atrocity. Thank you.