Police Accused Over Sect¡¦s Sit-in

17 November 2001, South China Morning Post, Stella Lee

Police were yesterday accused of inciting complaints against Falun Gong members, who are staging a daily sit-in outside Beijing¡¦s Liaison Office, by surveying nearby residents.

Falun Gong members and human rights activists described the police move as political suppression aimed at removing the practitioners from the site.

The police survey among neighbours of the Liaison Office in Western was revealed after one resident, Jimmy Keung, 70, complained.

Mr. Keung, a former British Navy soldier living in Cheung Ling Mansion near the Liaison Office, said five plain-clothed and one uniformed officer visited his home on Tuesday night.

¡§They said there was a group of Falun gong members staging a sit-in downstairs and asked if I had any objection,¡¨ he said.

¡§They asked me to co-operate and sign something. They said if I signed it, the police would think of ways to remove them.

¡§I was angry. It¡¦s a nuisance and a wasteful deployment of police manpower. I¡¦m not a Falun Gong member but I support them as they should have their freedom of expression.¡¨

Several other residents living in the building said they had been visited by police this week.

One, named only as Mrs. Hui, said: ¡§They asked me if I was unhappy about the sit-in. I said I didn¡¦t mind.¡¨

The police survey followed the removal of practitioners¡¦ banners outside the office last Saturday. They were also warned they could face prosecution for causing an obstruction if they did not leave the area. The demonstrators have staged a protest there since August 25.

A spokesman for the Falun Gong in Hong Kong, Kan Hung-cheung, said: ¡§The police want to create some public opinion to back up their action to remove the members.¡¨

Democrat legislator James To Kun-sun said: ¡§This is an abuse of police power by inciting complaints and hatred against a minority. It¡¦s shameful.¡¨

Chief Superintendent Charles Wong Doon-yee said police were responding to mansion management after residents complained.

¡§There was no specific information of who the residents were. So the police just took a normal and reasonable step to ask the residents,¡¨ he said.

Mr. Wong said police visited seven residents at random who signed a form.

¡§ We¡¦ll follow up on these complaints to see what appropriate action should be taken. Our move is not politically motivated,¡¨ he said.

The director of the Human Rights Monitor, law Yuk-kai, said the survey was unnecessary.