January 10, 2003

Falun Gong [practitioners] yesterday launched an international appeal for the release of three Hongkongers held on the mainland.

Cheung Yu-chong, 58 and Suen Chung-man, 46, were detained in Shenzhen in May. Chu O-ming, 45, was jailed in Tianjin after being arrested in 2000. Mr Suen's wife Wong Am said her husband, who owns an electronics business, had gone missing after travelling to Shenzhen. She was informed by the State Security Bureau three days later that he had been arrested for possessing materials relating to Falun Gong, outlawed on the mainland since July 1999.

It was later revealed that Mr Suen was arrested as he crossed the Lowu border on May 17. The following day, officers searched his Shenzhen home, where more than 1,400 VCDs about Falun Gong were found and seized.

Mr Suen, who stood trial in November, is still being detained as he awaits a verdict.

In an open letter to Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa yesterday, Ms Wong appealed for help.

"Our family is very worried. In the last 20 years, he has not only been a good husband, but also a good father, a good son and a good man. We have a happy family and he takes care of his business well," she wrote.

"But everything has changed now. Our business has been seriously affected. I'm suffering from heart disease and my daughter is still at school. We are on the brink of bankruptcy. We don't want to become a burden to society."

Mr Cheung's sister Miu-ching said they lost contact with the security guard after he crossed the Lowu border on May 8. His mainland wife, Luo Chunling, was informed six days later that her husband had been arrested at the border for carrying Falun Gong flyers and VCDs.

Ms Cheung, who is also a Falun Gong [practitioner], said while she was very worried about her brother, she would not stop practicing Falun Gong.

"It's our freedom to follow our belief," she said.

In the third case, businessman Mr Chu was arrested in Beijing in September 2000 for submitting a complaint against President Jiang Zemin's suppression of Falun Gong. He is now serving his five-year sentence in a Tianjin prison.

Spokesman for the local Falun Gong group, Kan Hung-cheung, said they were launching a worldwide campaign, which involved the US-based group Human Rights International raising the trio's plight in Beijing next month.

He said they would also make a submission to the Human Rights Commission during its conference in Geneva in March and request that Amnesty International in Britain list the trio as prisoners of conscience.

"We see a tightening of control on the mainland. We're worried that Hong Kong will face the same problem when we legislate on the anti-subversion law," he said.