Associated Press, June 18, 2003
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HONG KONG (AP) — A follower of the Falun Gong spiritual movement from Hong Kong has been released from a Myanmar prison after a year and a half, having been detained for demonstrating during a visit by China’s then-president Jiang Zemin, a Falun Gong spokeswoman said Wednesday.
Chan Wing-yuen, 71, was freed June 9 and deported to Hong Kong, said the spokeswoman, Carol Chan.
The Hong Kong man had been sentenced to seven years for attempted subversion after he unfurled a banner with the words “Truthfulness, Compassion, Tolerance” at Yangon’s airport shortly before Jiang’s arrival on Dec. 12, 2001, the spokeswoman said.
It was unclear why he was released early, she said. Myanmar authorities did not immediately respond to a faxed query from The Associated Press.
Chan was treated well during his captivity, the spokeswoman said.
China has banned Falun Gong as an “evil cult,” but the meditation group still practices freely in Hong Kong, a former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997 but still has a separate legal system.
Thousands of followers have been detained in China, and activists say scores have died from police abuse. Chinese officials deny mistreating anyone but say some have died from hunger strikes or refusing medical help.
Falun Gong contends Myanmar caved in to pressure from the Chinese Embassy to crack down on the group when it arrested Chan.
The Myanmar government said earlier that Chan was arrested for “disturbing peace and stability and for breaching the law,” and that his arrest had nothing to do with his membership in Falun Gong.