March 19, 2002
Ms Elsie Leung
The Secretary of Justice
Department of Justice
Queensway Government Offices
We are writing on behalf of the 16 Falun Gong practitioners to request that the obstruction charges pressed against them on March 15, 2002 in the Western Magistracy by the Hong Kong Police be dropped.
Four Swiss Falun Gong practitioners started a three-day hunger strike outside the Chinese Liaison Office at 8:30 on the morning of March 14, 2002. Twelve local Falun Gong practitioners joined them in a sit-in area close by. The purpose of this peaceful petition was to ask Jiang Zemin to immediately terminate the "kill without pardon" order targeting Falun Gong practitioners in Changchun, China, and to appeal for worldwide support.
These petitioners occupied a small section of about two meters long and one meter wide on a pavement that is ten meters wide. They were sitting quite a few meters away from the vehicle entrance and exit of the Liaison Office's building while leaving ample space for passersby. The sit-in area is over ten meters away from the main entrance of the Liaison Office building. Anyone who has been to the location knows that the presence of a dozen odd peaceful people simply cannot cause any obstruction. Anyone who was on the scene when the petition took place knew that they did not cause or could not have caused any obstruction.
The subject pavement is much wider than most major streets in the busiest parts of the urban area. It is almost three times as wide as Nathan Road, Queen's Road Central, or King's Road, to cite just a few typical examples. The pavement is rarely used by pedestrians. A brief count indicated not more than twenty persons use that portion of the pavement every hour on the average.
As a matter of fact, the location chosen by the petitioners would cause less concern for obstruction compared to the designated zone that the police had urged the petitioners to move over to, which was in front of the Cheung Ling Mansion, west to the Liaison Office because it is fronting shops and residential building entrance. If the purpose was to achieve minimum obstruction, there would be no better location than the one chosen by the petitioners - no fronting shops, least pedestrian flow and with exceptionally wide pavement. Since our practitioners have proved through their daily activities that no obstruction was caused at the designated zone, it should be even less a problem for these practitioners to sit at the spot they chose, not to mention the petition was only going to last three days. Consistency and fairness are two key elements in the enforcement of law and order. We believe that these Falun Gong petitioners were singled out for enforcement.
We¡¦d also like to point out that these petitioners were significantly outnumbered by the police officers dispatched to the scene. The area occupied by these officers was several times larger than the area occupied by the petitioners. Besides the needlessly large presence of the police, barricades were placed all over the pavement. It is clear that if there was any obstruction, it could have only been caused by the presence of the police officers.
Witnesses and video evidence clearly show when illegally removing peaceful petitioners, police officers had applied excessive force, which included suffocating petitioners by twisting limbs, pressing against throats and acupuncture points to make them feel painful, dizzy and numb, causing injuries to 9 petitioners. In addition, the petitioners' requests for medical examination were not granted until 11 o'clock at night¡X9 hours after they were taken into police custody. On the contrary, police officers were sent for medical examination promptly.
The police had accused Falun Gong practitioners of biting and kicking them, resulting in minor injuries in 5 officers. This could not be further from the truth. Again, our video evidence shows that the petitioners only reacted with passive force out of self-protective reflex during the entire removal process and at no time resorted to violence, despite the excessive force used by the police.
Hong Kong Falun Gong practitioners were appalled by the poor professionalism exhibited by some of the police officers in carrying out their duties. All these practitioners wanted to do was to exercise the basic right to peacefully voice their objection to Jiang Zemin ¡¦s horrific violation of the rights of fellow Falun Gong practitioners. Forcefully removing them from a perfectly legitimate spot has already violated the rights of these petitioners, and made people wonder if the SAR Government is bowing to the political pressure at the expense of the rule of law in Hong Kong. We were further shocked to learn the Police's decision to press charges against these peaceful and law-abiding petitioners. This action would further betray the spirit of the rule of law, and jeopardize the success of the ¡§one country two systems.¡¨
Ms Leung, Falun Gong practitioners in Hong Kong have been calling on the Central Government to stop its unconstitutional and brutal crackdown on Falun Gong for almost three years. Following the principle of ¡§Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance,¡¨ practitioners have won praises from the public for the peacefulness and compassion demonstrated in their activities. We sincerely hope that you will uphold justice and drop the charges recommended by the Police. By so doing you will truly show your commitment to the protection of the freedom of expression and assembly guaranteed to every individual, as well as the rule of law in Hong Kong. We sincerely hope that you will give the future of the people of Hong Kong and China the top priority.
Thank you for your attention.
Hong Kong Falun Gong Practitioners
Contact: CHAN Wing-kwong 9634-8516 HUI Yee-han 9879-9879 KAN Hung-cheung 9876-3530