Falun Gong decries HK chief’s ‘cult’ remarks


HONG KONG, AFP

Hong Kong Falun Gong practioners on Friday staged protests over Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa’s remarks the Buddhist-inspired spiritual movement was “undoubtedly a cult.”

Some 100 Falun Gong practitioners conducted meditation exercises outside the central government headquarters also to protest against Tung’s remarks that Falun Gong was also a political group.

Tung told legislators Thursday that Falun Gong was a political and well-organized “evil cult,” but said it was not yet time to enact anti-cult laws.

Falun Gong spokeswoman Hui Yee-han told reporters Tung’s remarks were “irresponsible.”

She said practioners faced increased pressures because of officials’ remarks that the government was monitoring their activities closely.

As a result, home return permits of some 33 Falun Gong practitioners from Hong Kong that enabled them to travel to mainland China had been confiscated by mainland authorities, said Hui.

“There is no need at all” to enact anti-cult laws,” said Hui, adding that the group was peace loving and advocated meditation exercises and clean living.

In an open letter addressed to Tung, the Falun Gong, which has been illegal on the mainland for almost two years, said the chief executive’s remarks were “a groundless and preposterous continuation of previous irresponsible remarks.

“What really makes Hong Kong people nervous is not the activities of the few hundred Falun Gong practitioners in Hong Kong, but the dangerous talks by some of the SAR officials, which have strayed away from Hong Kong’s freedom and rule of law,” Falun Gong said.

Meanwhile, Stephen Lam, the government’s information coordinator, told reporters that “as a responsible government, the SAR government has to keep under close observation the activities of Falun Gong in Hong Kong and it is our responsibility to keep and maintain Hong Kong’s public peace and order.”

Beijing considers Falun Gong the biggest threat to its communist party rule since the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations quashed in Tiananmen Square.

Since the mainland ban was imposed, hundreds of Falun Gong leaders have been jailed and thousands of followers sent without trial to labor camps.