Hong Kong Protest Overwhelms Communist Party Group Sent to Silence Falun Gong
NEW YORK — Sparked by the harassment of a respected teacher who publicly supported Falun Gong, hundreds of protesters turned the tables on a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) front organization employed to bully dissenting voices in Hong Kong.
Small informational booths displaying evidence of the Falun Gong persecution in Mainland China have been a mainstay outside of the People’s Republic of China Liaison Office for the last fourteen years, and certainly since 2004, when a Hong Kong high court ruled the demonstrations were legal. But since June of last year, a group known as the Hong Kong Youth Care Association (HKYCA), has tried its best to block the booths with oversized banners and distribution of their own leaflets and posters, all with messages used in the CCP’s propaganda campaign to demonize Falun Gong.
Some Hong Kong media have linked the HKYCA to Beijing, specifically a 610 Office in Shenzhen, the extra-legal organ set up to “eradicate” Falun Gong. Videos posted online show HKYCA members, typically clad in lime-green shirts, violently destroying Falun Gong informational booths and even physically assaulting the volunteers staffing them. Police, meanwhile, are notably looking the other way.
“Many worry that Hong Kong is becoming more and more like the Mainland,” said Erping Zhang, spokesperson for the Falun Dafa Information Center. “They see a peaceful local Falun Gong community being strong-armed by Mainland-linked groups and the police not doing anything about it. They think, ‘it’s Falun Gong today; it could be me tomorrow.’ We see a lot of them standing up for Falun Gong.”
55 year-old Ms. Lam Wai Sze did just that when HKYCA members were harassing a Falun Gong information booth. Videos of the outspoken school teacher criticizing police officers and demanding that they ensure safety and civil liberties for all Hong Kong residents have spread widely on the Internet. (watch online)
For a time after the video’s release, however, Ms. Lam became a target of the same harassment. HKYCA members, as well as other groups with ties to Beijing, reportedly harassed Ms. Lam and her family, going so far as placing funeral wreaths with her name on her school property.
But the harassment of Ms. Lam only emboldened more Hong Kong residents, resulting in the mass protest, organized by five pro-Hong Kong independence organizations and having at least 3,000 people, according to media reports. The protest was tense at times, with crowd members denouncing both HKYCA members and the police for allegedly siding with the HKYCA. At one point during the protest, police unexpectedly left the scene, resulting in HKYCA members retaliating with physical violence. Video footage shows overwhelming support behind the Falun Gong information booths, as well as Ms. Lam, who is hailed as “the conscience of Hong Kong” in some segments. (watch online)
Since Chun-ying Leung, Chief Executive of Hong Kong, took office in 2012, a growing number of large scale protests over CCP encroachment have shaken the island city. Many see Leung’s connection to the central Party leadership and policies he has attempted to implement as an effort to undermine the “one country, two systems” principle that Beijing espoused after the 1997 handover. The row over the Falun Gong demonstrations is the latest challenge to Hong Kong liberty.
“Our government is under pressure from the CCP,” Hong Kong Legislative Council Member Albert Ho Chun-yan said. “It has taken some actions against dissident groups, and it is clear that they are targeting Falun Gong.”
The Falun Dafa Information Center calls on the Hong Kong authorities to ensure and allow for peaceful and orderly demonstrations, as accorded by law, to investigate allegations that Hong Kong Police have turned a blind eye to discrimination, and even violence against Falun Gong sympathizers, and to investigate the criminality of HKYCA members.