Falun Gong Members Seek Reversal of Convictions

Falun Gong Members Seek Reversal of Convictions for Obstructing, Assaulting Hong Kong Police

HONG KONG–Lawyers for nine followers of the Falun Gong spiritual group in Hong Kong urged the territory’s top court Monday to reverse their convictions for obstructing and assaulting police _ charges the group says amount to political persecution ordered by China.

The convictions stem from a March 2002 protest against China’s ban on Falun Gong in front of the Chinese government’s Hong Kong offices. Sixteen of the demonstrators were later convicted of public obstruction, while nine of them, including a New Zealander, were convicted for obstructing the police. Three Hong Kong residents among the 16 were found guilty of attacking police officers.

An appeal court overturned the public obstruction convictions in November, but the convictions for obstructing and assaulting police stand.

A Falun Gong lawyer argued before the Court of Final Appeal Monday that since the appeal court ruled the protest didn’t amount to obstruction, the protesters were justified in resisting arrest, follower Lau Wai-hing told The Associated Press by phone.

Television footage showed about half a dozen followers meditating outside the court building in a show of support. The court hearing is scheduled to continue Wednesday and Thursday. Tuesday is a public holiday in Hong Kong.

China has banned Falun Gong, which combines slow-motion exercise with Buddhist and Taoist beliefs, as an “evil cult,” but allows it in Hong Kong, a former British colony that enjoys Western-style civil liberties including religious freedom.

However, Falun Gong says the criminal convictions from the 2002 protest show that Beijing is pressuring Hong Kong to crack down on the group.

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Associated Press, USA
Apr. 4, 2005

Religion News Blog posted this on Monday April 4, 2005.
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