Falun Gong seeks Hong Kong’s help in securing release of two followers

HONG KONG (AP) — The Falun Gong meditation group said Wednesday that two of its followers — a British businessman and a Hong Kong housewife — had been detained in mainland China, and it urged Hong Kong to help get them released.

Relatives of the two wept at a demonstration, claiming officials at Hong Kong’s Immigration Department had refused to help them.

Beijing outlawed Falun Gong in 1999 as an “evil cult,” and has detained thousands of its mainland practitioners. Activists say hundreds have died in custody from beatings or mistreatment. China has denied mistreating the detained followers.

The group is legal in Hong Kong, which reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997 but still enjoys Western-style civil liberties under its local government.

“We’re urging the Hong Kong government to take up a more active role” in the case, said Falun Gong spokesman Kan Hung-cheung. About 40 practitioners gathered in Hong Kong Tuesday for a demonstration.

Hong Kong’s Immigration Department did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment. Officials here have responded to previous similar cases by noting that the mainland is a different jurisdiction.

Falun Gong identified one of the detained followers as 51-year-old British businessman Ray Tang. They said he and three employees from a company his relatives run in the mainland city of Shenzhen, on the Hong Kong border, were taken away on Nov. 13.

Mainland police later told Tang’s family that Tang was suspected of organizing Falun Gong activities, the group said.

British Consulate-General spokeswoman Vanessa Gould said she had no immediate comment.

Falun Gong said the other follower, 28-year-old housewife Fu Xue-ying, has been detained by police in Shenzhen since Oct. 30, when she was found distributing Falun Gong video discs.

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