Falun Gong Followers Sue Over Hong Kong Arrests

Fifteen Falun Gong followers arrested during a 2002 protest in Western are seeking more than 1.5m Hong Kong dollars compensation from the police for alleged unlawful arrest and false imprisonment.

The Falun Gong followers filed a writ on Monday claiming damages for false imprisonment following their arrests in March 2002.

A total of 16 followers, including four Swiss nationals, were arrested and jointly charged the next day with one count of obstruction of a public place and another of carrying out an act whereby obstruction may occur.

Nine of them also faced charges of assaulting and obstructing police officers.

The Swiss nationals were named as Lam Duy Quoc, 32, Erich Bachmann, 44, Roland Isenschmid, 43, and Simone Claudia Schlegel- Grunenfelder, 32.

The Hong Kong residents were named as Wong Yiu-hing, 40, Lau Wai- hing, 53, Yeung Mei-wan, 57, Chee Fei-ming, 65, Lu Jie, 42, Tse Lai- sim, 52, Tso Chi-sin, 59, Tsang Hau-sim, 52, Lau Yuk-ling, 62, Chan Sing, 56, Lam Chi-for, 49, and Jenny Lee, 61.

Falun Gong spokesman Kan Hung-cheung said Wong Yiu-hing would not be filing a claim.

One of the plaintiffs, Lau Wai-hing, said the claim follows a Court of Appeal and the Court of Final Appeal decision quashing their convictions in 2004.

The Court of Appeal at the time said the practitioners were exercising their right to demonstrate. “Each of us will be lodging claims for slightly more than 100,000 Hong Kong dollars compensation for unlawful detention in 2002,” Ms Lau said.

She said they were detained for 26 to 30 hours before appearing in court. She said they were seeking compensation for damages caused by loss of freedom, damage to their reputations, as well as bodily injury and mental suffering.

On 14 March 2002, 16 followers were arrested about four hours into a planned three-day hunger strike outside the central government’s liaison office in Connaught Road to protest about the mainland’s suppression of Falun Gong members.

They pleaded not guilty to the charges when they appeared in the former Western Magistrate’s Court before magistrate Symon Wong Yu- wing.

In August 2002 all defendants were fined 1,300 dollars for obstruction in a public place, with nine convicted of wilfully obstructing a police officer at Western police station. Three were found guilty of assaulting police officers.

The case was the first criminal conviction of Falun Gong followers in Hong Kong since the religious sect was outlawed as an “evil cult” on the mainland in 1999.

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South China Morning Post, Hong Kong
Aug. 6, 2006
Yvonne Tsui

Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday August 16, 2006.
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