HK plans to deport two US Falun Gong members-group

Reuters/May 6, 2001

Hong Kong -- Hong Kong plans to deport two American followers of the Falun Gong spiritual movement on Sunday after refusing them entry ahead of a visit by Chinese President Jiang Zemin, a Hong Kong-based human rights group said.

The Information Centre for Human Rights & Democracy in China said Li Xiaobin and Xu Zhenmei, both holding American passports, arrived in the territory on Saturday night, but Hong Kong immigration refused their entry for "security reasons."

"I have not done anything to endanger Hong Kong or the people of Hong Kong. Why the Hong Kong government does not allow me to come in ?," Li told local Asia Television news by telephone from a restricted area of Chek Lap Kok airport.

Director of Immigration Lee Siu-kwong declined to comment on the incident but told reporters the government did not have a "black list" of overseas Falun Gong members, as has been alleged by the human rights group. "We will not deny any entry because they are Falun Gong members. But we will handle each individual case in accordance to Hong Kong laws and procedures. We don't have a list on Falun Gong members," he said.

The human rights group has said the government probably received such a "black list" from Beijing ahead of Jiang's visit for the Fortune Global Forum conference that starts on Tuesday.

Jiang will deliver an opening keynote address to the conference, while former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will also attend the three-day event.

Li had previously been banned from entering Hong Kong, while Xu, a United Nations employee, had never had problems visiting Hong Kong, the Information Centre said.


"Unnecessary and Unacceptable"

Falun Gong practitioners in Hong Kong said that since the end of April five followers from Macau, Taiwan and Australia had been refused entry to Hong Kong. They said such measures by the government were "unnecessary and unacceptable."

"The special restrictions imposed by the government on Falun Gong practitioners entering into Hong Kong not only constitute discrimination against Falun Gong spiritual activities, they also damage the reputation of Hong Kong as a free and open city in the world," the group said in an open letter to the government.

Jiang's visit is expected to draw large protests from members of the Falun Gong movement, which is outlawed in mainland China but remains legal in Hong Kong.

Many political observers see the conference as the toughest test yet to Hong Kong's promised freedom since the former colony's handover from Britain to China in mid-1997.

China-anointed Hong Kong leader Tung Chee-hwa has been under pressure from Beijing to curb the group, which has been labelled an "evil cult" by Chinese leaders.

Tung recently issued his sternest warning yet, accusing practitioners of damaging Hong Kong interests with their planned protest during Jiang's stay.

Police have said they would allow peaceful demonstration as long as they were legal and did not pose a danger to others. But under security arrangements, protesters would be kept a few hundred metres (yards) away from the guests, ensuring any demonstration would be out of sight.

Seeking to avoid the violent protests that disrupted recent world financial meetings, Hong Kong police have thrown a tight security cordon around the conference at the waterfront Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

On Saturday, police stepped up their security sweep at the venue. Policemen, wearing gas masks and oxygen tanks, checked the sewers near the Convention Centre, while police divers combed the seabed near the waterfront site. Police sniffer dogs also checked for explosives.

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