Can a religious group that wants to bring down the Chinese Communist Party exist in Hong Kong?
Hong Kong (CNN) With the upbeat sound of a blue uniform band, the protest took place through downtown Hong Kong.
Marchers, wearing all yellow, carry purple lotus trees, yin and yang symbols and other traditional symbols of Buddhism. But those were their huge banners, held aloft or mounted on small floats, suggesting this was more than a religious demonstration.
“Stay away from the Chinese Communist Party. Stop the persecution of Falun Gong.”
A religious movement appeared in China in the mid-1990s, Falun Gong was well known throughout the country before it was banned and brutally suppressed on land in 1999. But it continued to operate in China. Hong Kong thanks to greater territorial rights protections.
For decades now, Falun Gong protests against the Chinese government have become a common sight on the streets of the city, with practitioners erecting fake surgery scenes to raise awareness. stay aware of the organ harvesting allegations and distribute free copies of the newspaper related to Falun Gong, The Epoch Times. Protesters also targeted Chinese politicians and offices in the city, and regularly participated in mass anti-government marches and marches.
A woman following Falun Gong spiritual supporters, banned in mainland China, participated in a march in Hong Kong on April 27, 2019, to follow the 20th anniversary of the one Large protests in Beijing led to a crackdown against the movement.
Crossing the border by bus from China and seeing Falun Gong practitioners distributing anti-Party leaflets were once one of the clearest signs of Hong Kong’s relative autonomy from Beijing.
All that could soon be illegal under the new security law passed by China to Hong Kong last month criminalized “separatist acts, overthrowing state power, activities. terrorism and collusion with foreign or external forces to endanger national security. ”
Similar laws in China have been used to pursue Falun Gong practitioners, which Beijing claims is an “evil cult” that preaches heretical fallacies that are anti-humanity and unscientific. “through the control of people’s minds.
Falun Gong practitioners deny these allegations and claim that they have been unfairly targeted and persecuted by the Chinese authorities. Thousands of Falun Gong practitioners are believed to be detained “in many territorial prisons and out-of-territory prisons” in mainland China, according to Freedom House, a Washington-based freedoms organization – a North allegation Kinh also denied.
“The new National Security Act will act as a sharp knife hanging on (the association) and the head of every Falun Gong practitioner in Hong Kong,” Ingrid Wu, spokesman for the Falun Dafa Association France Hong Kong said. “We are very concerned.”
Hong Kong officials have declared the new law necessary and will only affect a small number of individuals. In early July, CEO Carrie Lam pushed back against the proposal that the law would undermine everyone’s freedom.
“The legal principles that we take seriously, such as innocence speculation and no retrospective effect, etc., are being maintained,” she said. “Instead of spreading fear, the law will actually eliminate fear and let Hong Kong people return to a peaceful, normal life.”
A government spokesman did not respond to emailed questions about concerns related to statutory freedom of religion.
Hong Kong has long been a safe haven for entities that can never operate in China, from banned religious movements and non-governmental organizations, to large technology companies. is blocked by the Great Firewall. The fate of groups like Falun Gong – Beijing’s fierce protesters, who are not the immediate targets of the law still come within their vast reach – will test those guarantees for animal lodging.
New age religion
Founded by Li Hongzhi in northeast China in the early 1990s, Falun Gong blends traditional Chinese qigong practices and the new age religion. It was promoted by the Chinese government and state media as part of a nationwide qigong fever, but when Falun Gong grew in size, attracting millions of followers, the government turned on the group.
Li encouraged an explosive public relations strategy in an effort to win over critics, and from 1996 to 1999, the group staged about 300 protests and demonstrations, historian David ownby wrote. in “Falun Gong and China’s Future”.
This culminated in a bold and strategic demonstration, surrounding the central government headquarters in Beijing involving about 10,000 practitioners. It is the largest protest the capital has seen since the Tiananmen crackdown in 1989, and is the beginning of the end of Falun Gong in China.
Protesters in Beijing are calling for lifting restrictions on faith, but the Chinese government has responded with a massive crackdown and massive propaganda promoting Falun Gong.
“I was shocked,” said Rose, a Falun Gong practitioner based in Hong Kong. “I have friends traveling between Hong Kong and Beijing. They told me that a persecution was about to take place, but I said this was impossible, Falun Gong is just a belief, no What is politics. ”
Originally from mainland China, Rose began practicing Falun Gong after moving to Hong Kong in the late 1990s. CNN is retaining its full name due to fears of prosecution under the new security laws.
Falun Gong founder Li Hongzhi saw it in New York in 1999. He left China several years before the group was banned there.
After Falun Gong was banned, Rose’s husband and some of her close friends urged her to keep a low profile, exercising and reading books at home. But she certainly made some mistakes, and so, as long as her fellow practitioners did in Beijing, she sought to appeal to the government, to convict Falun Gong.
“A group of us went to the Liaison Office,” she said. “But no one came out, we stayed there for 24 hours.”
The Liaison Office is the Hong Kong headquarters of the Chinese government, which has long been a symbol of Beijing’s influence on the city.
Days turn into weeks, then months. Every day, Rose and a small group of practitioners gathered outside the office on 160 Connaught Street to try to hear their messages.
One day, protesters were joined by a group of Swiss practitioners who initially wanted to go to Beijing to protest but were denied a visa. Police tried to remove the group, according to court documents never numbered more than 16 and were “peaceful and largely static”.
Police moved to clear the demonstration, however, and charged Falun Gong protesters with obstruction, among other crimes. The case finally ended at the Final Court of Appeal, where Hong Kong’s top judges strongly ruled in favor of the right to protest and to use “reasonable force to combat illegal detention.” . ”
This lawsuit is a major victory not only for Falun Gong but also against anti-government protesters in general, ensuring – until last year’s anti-government protests – the right to protest outside. Contact office.