Case Summary: Four Swiss and twelve Hong Kong Falun Gong practitioners were arrested and violently handled by the Hong Kong Police Department for holding a peaceful, fully legal sit-in on behalf of persons persecuted in Mainland China. Nine of the demonstrators were injured, but were denied medical treatment for several hours. All the demonstrators are on bail until their March 22 court date; the four Swiss practitioners have been ordered not to leave Hong Kong.
Time: Around 1:00 pm on 14 March 2002
Location of Incident: Outside the Chinese Liaison Office in Hong Kong, Sai Wan, Hong Kong
1. Erich Bachmann (Swiss), 40
2. CHEE Fei-ming, 61, female
3. CHOW Sing, 32, female
4. Roland Isenschmid (Swiss), 39
5. LAM Chi-for, 45
6. LAM Duy Quoc (Swiss), 28
7. Jenny Lee, 57, female
8. LAU Wai-hing, 49, female
9. LAU Yuk-ling, 58, female
10. LU Jie, 38, female
11. Simone Claudia Schlegel-Grunenfelder (Swiss), 28, female
12. TSANG Hau-sim, 48, female
13. TSE Lai-sim, 48, female
14. TSO Chi-sin, 55, female
15. WONG Yiu-hing, 36, female
16. YEUNG Mei-wan, 53, female
1) A Peaceful Petition
Four Swiss Falun Gong practitioners went to Hong Kong to hold a three-day hunger strike sit-in outside the Chinese Liaison Office ¡V the Central Government¡¦s representative office in Hong Kong SAR. They did this to petition China to stop killing Falun Gong followers in the Mainland and to urgently appeal for worldwide support (please see attached statement written by the Swiss practitioners, entitled ¡§Hunger Strike in Hong Kong ¡V Why?¡¨).
2) Police Intervention
Joined by about twelve local practitioners, the four Swiss began their hunger strike at about 8:30 am on March 14, 2002. Their activity was fully lawful by public ordinance, as no official permission is needed in Hong Kong if the number of people taking part in a demonstration is less than twenty. Dozens of police officers were present. After approximately two and a half hours, the Hong Kong Police issued its first warning to the Swiss petitioners for ¡§obstructing a public place.¡¨ The Police issued another two warnings to the Swiss in the next two hours and demanded that the petitioners move away from the front of the building, to an area on the side which was invisible to the staff working in the Liaison Office¡¦s building.
These petitioners occupied a section about two meters long and one meter wide on pavement that is ten meters wide. They were sitting quite a few meters away from the vehicle entrance and the exit of the Liaison Office¡¦s building and still left ample room for passersby. Local petitioners questioned the legality of the police warnings but didn¡¦t receive satisfactory explanation. At around 1 pm, the Police issued its last warning, which was the first one directed at the local Hong Kong petitioners.
Around noon, the Hong Kong Police delivered a verbal statement to the reporters covering the event. The statement said that the petitioners had obstructed a public place, and that the Liaison Office had expressed its ¡§anxiety and fear¡¨ of Falun Gong practitioners because Falun Gong practitioners once walked into their building to distribute flyers, which was not true. Even if it were true, Hong Kong people would have the right to walk into the Liaison Office to express their view, as the Liaison Office is the bridge between Hong Kong and the Central Government.
3) Forceful Removal of Petitioners
A little after 1:00 pm¡Xabout four and a half hours after the hunger strike had begun¡Xthe Hong Kong police officers moved in and started to remove petitioners from the area. To defend their freedom of expression and assembly, about ten local Falun Gong practitioners quietly joined hands and sat in a circle around the Swiss practitioners. In breaking them up and removing all petitioners, the police officers applied excessive force. They pressed acupuncture points behind ears, pressed down on the faces and throats, pushed their palms toward the inside of forearms, and also twisted petitioners¡¦ limbs harshly. On average, each petitioner was manhandled by four officers. Petitioners immediately felt pain, nausea, dizziness and shortness of breath. Petitioners only reacted passively and did not resort to violence in any form. Nine petitioners had injuries of varying degrees.
Witnesses confirmed that during the removal, a senior officer in command shouted out instructions including ¡§You can use more force!¡¨ In addition, witnesses also pointed out that during the action, while one female police officer was accusing loudly that petitioners were biting her, no petitioner was near her at that time.
By 1:30 pm, all sixteen practitioners had been carried off and thrown into separate police vans. They were to be driven to the Western District Police Station.
4) Unfair Treatment at the Police Station
Lau Yuk-ling felt pain due to the rough handling by the police. When she was in the police van and being taken to the police station, she requested to see a doctor. Her request was ignored. The nine injured practitioners made an official and collective request at 5:00 pm to have a medical examination. The police delayed the medical examination by questioning and recording their pains in detail one by one¡Xthis should not be a procedure undertaken by the police. These Falun Gong practitioners¡¦ request was not granted until 11:00 pm¡Xnine hours after they were taken into police custody. The doctors took a quick look at the petitioners, and prescribed painkillers and ointment for some. The medical records will not be released unless a payment of HKD5,000 (HKD500 for each person; approx. USD650 in total) is received.
In contrast, the Hong Kong Police Department claimed that five officers had minor injuries, and these officers were arranged to see doctors promptly.
5) Charges Pressed
On March 15, two counts of ¡§obstruction¡¨ were filed against all sixteen Falun Gong practitioners despite the obvious. One count is ¡§obstruction of a public place,¡¨ and the other is ¡§conducting activities whereby obstruction may occur.¡¨ At present, all these practitioners are on bail, waiting to appear in court on March 22, 2002. The four Swiss practitioners have been ordered not to leave Hong Kong.
Hunger Strike in Hong Kong ¡V¡V Why?
Photos of the Peaceful Petition and the Arrest
March 14, 2002
Hunger Strike in Hong Kong ¡V Why?
¡V Because after the broadcast of the revealing Falun Gong television programs by Falun Gong supporters in Changchun, Jiang Zemin has given orders to arrest and kill all Falun Gong practitioners responsible; over 100 practitioners in Changchun have been arrested since March 5, facing grave danger. Jiang Zemin has given approval to gun down Falun Gong practitioners for distributing flyers or putting up banners that expose the persecution of their group.
¡V Because under Jiang Zemin¡¦s order of ¡§killing without pardon,¡¨ lists of Falun Gong practitioners who will receive heavy sentencing including the death penalty are being compiled, as Jiang Zemin is so fearful of the truth being brought to light.
¡V Because no Chinese embassy or consulate has been willing to accept our petition letters and our repeated requests to have a peaceful and open dialogue with them; moreover, the overseas Chinese officials are pressuring foreign governments to discriminate against Falun Gong in their respective regions.
¡V Because we wanted to go to Beijing to appeal to the Chinese Central Government for an end to the brutal persecution on behalf of all of our fellow practitioners in the Mainland who are denied their right to speak out. Yet after we purchased our plane tickets, the Chinese Embassy in Switzerland cancelled our visas. Hong Kong is part of China, so we hope that our voice can be heard better here.
¡V Because the rest of the world is against the persecution of Falun Gong that has been going on for almost three years. Yet the persecution is escalating at an alarming pace, as evidenced by recent events.
¡V Because we feel a hunger strike is the best way to reach the hearts of people around the world, and the suffering we endure is nothing compared to what Mainland Falun Gong practitioners are going through. We cherish all life and we go on a hunger strike in hopes of saving lives.
¡V Because Falun Gong is truth we have been seeking for many years. It has given answers to many of our questions and made us better human beings in both body and soul. Seeing Falun Gong under vicious and slanderous attack pains our hearts.
¡V Because the world recognizes the value of ¡§truthfulness, compassion and forbearance,¡¨ and people have bestowed more than 700 honors upon Falun Gong for its goodness.
Lam Duy Quoc (41)76-490-2067,