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Taiwan protests over Hong Kong’s treatment of Falun Gong members • Sunday February 23, 2003

BBC Monitoring, Feb. 22, 2003

Text of report by Sofia Wu carried in English by Taiwanese Central News Agency web site

Taipei, 22 February: The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) issued a strongly worded statement Saturday [22 February] protesting the Hong Kong government’s mistreatment of Taiwanese members of the Falun Gong meditation group.

The cabinet-level council, which charts Taiwan’s policy towards mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao, issued the statement after about 40 Taiwan Falun Gong followers were denied entry to Hong Kong Friday to attend a Falun Gong conference Saturday.

All of the Taiwan Falun Gong followers were forcefully repatriated back to the island last evening, even though they had valid Hong Kong visas. According to the MAC, Hong Kong immigration officials even rudely treated some Taiwan followers, tying them up in anti-riot blankets and forcing then on Taiwan-bound aircraft.

“We protest this kind of mistreatment of our citizens,” the MAC said in the statement, adding that it has ordered Taiwan’s representative office to ask the Hong Kong government to stop such unfriendly actions immediately and never to repeat them.

“We are hopeful that the Hong Kong government will make a positive response to our protest to avoid spoiling the bilateral amity and sabotaging its own international image,” the MAC said.

Dozens of Taiwan Falun Gong followers gave a joint news conference earlier in the day to express their grievance and protest against the Hong Kong government’s mistreatment of them.

They urged the Hong Kong government not to be subservient to the leaders in Beijing. “Hong Kong leaders should refrain from becoming Beijing’s tools to suppress human rights and freedom of religion in the territory,” a representative said.

The Falun Gong meditation group is a lawful organization in Hong Kong and Taiwan, but it is banned in communist China as an “evil cult”.

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