HONG KONG (AP) – The Falun Gong meditation group complained Friday that at least four of its members from Taiwan were barred from entering Hong Kong for “security reasons.”
China has banned Falun Gong as an “evil cult” but the group remains legal in Hong Kong, which returned to China from British rule in 1997 and maintains its own administration and Western-style civil liberties.
The four members were coming to Hong Kong for a Falun Gong conference this weekend, but were turned away and sent back to Taiwan on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, said Sophie Xiao, a Hong Kong-based spokeswoman for the group.
Xiao said the group’s members in Taiwan told them that four more Taiwanese have since been denied entry into Hong Kong, but they were still trying to confirm this and had no details.
“This is unreasonable and absolutely wrong,” said Kan Hung-cheung, another Hong Kong Falun Gong spokesman, late Thursday.
The four barred Taiwanese said in a statement that Hong Kong immigration authorities had denied them entry for “security reasons,” but didn’t elaborate.
Kan said officials searched the four and their luggage before putting them on planes back to the Taiwanese cities of Taipei and Kaohsiung.
He also claimed that an official injected unspecified medicine into the leg of one of the members, a woman.
Hong Kong’s Immigration Department said in a statement that officials wouldn’t comment on individual cases but, said that they’d acted according to the law. It also said officials were not allowed to administer medicine to anyone barred from entry.
The group frequently protests in Hong Kong to demand the right to practice its beliefs on the mainland, creating a dilemma for the territory’s government, which allows freedom of speech but doesn’t want to offend Beijing.
Falun Gong expects 800 members = including some from Macau, Taiwan and Japan – to attend a two-day conference here starting Saturday.
They also planned a march to China’s representative office in Hong Kong on Sunday.
Security is usually tight when the group holds conferences in Hong Kong. Kan said 80 foreign Falun Gong members were barred from entry to Hong Kong for a similar conference in February last year, but the government has declined to confirm this.
Falun Gong members believe they can improve their health, morality and peace of mind through meditation and slow-motion exercise. – AP