AP, Aug. 18, 2002
By Helen Luk in Hong Kong
The convicted Falun Gong followers include a New Zealand resident and four Swiss.
Falun Gong spokesman Kan Hung-cheung said they lodged an appeal with the courts yesterday against a magistrate had made on Thursday. Kan called the ruling groundless, and said: “The court only based its judgment on evidence from the prosecution.”
Magistrate Symon Wong convicted the practitioners of causing an obstruction outside the Chinese government liaison office in Hong Kong during a March 14 protest and fined them equivalent of between $2155 and $900.
He did not jail anyone, although some of the defendants were found guilty of more serious offences including obstructing and assaulting the police.
Today, a dozen pro-democracy demonstrators braved torrential rain and marched to a side gate of government headquarters to protest the Falun Gong convictions.
Falun Gong members say the convictions are a sign that China is exporting mainland-style suppression to this former British colony. Although Hong Kong reverted to Chinese rule five years ago, it retains many Western-style liberties such as freedom of speech.
Local followers of Falun Gong, which is outlawed on the mainland as an “evil cult,” often protest against Beijing’s suppression of the group, which remains legal in Hong Kong.
The court writ filed yesterday said “conviction is against the weight of the evidence,” according to Kan.
Hong Kong officials and magistrate Wong, who delivered the verdicts, insisted that the case had nothing to do with the practice of Falun Gong meditation.