Trend: Attacks in Hong Kong

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Falun Gong information booths destroyed by thugs in Hong Kong

As Beijing continues to tighten its grip on Hong Kong, especially since the adoption of the National Security Law in June 2020, Falun Gong practitioners in the territory have faced escalated harassment and occasional physical attacks as well as calls from pro-Beijing forces urging a ban or prosecution of adherents under the National Security Law. However, as of December 2021, Falun Gong remains legal in the territory and is practiced by several hundred residents, in stark contrast to conditions in China.[1]

 

Thuggery and physical attacks: Hong Kong practitioners have long reported that their information booths, where they share materials on Falun Gong with locals and visitors from the Mainland, are often tampered with.[2] The U.S. State Department’s 2020 annual International Religious Freedom report, for example, noted that Falun Gong practitioners have experienced “incidents of harassment and vandalism at public information booths.” In April 2021, one of the worst such attacks in recent memory occurred when masked perpetrators repeatedly attacked Falun Gong information booths in different parts of Hong Kong using knives and spray paint to destroy the displays.

 

Assaults on news reporters and commentators: Since adoption of the National Security Law in Hong Kong, restrictions on media and internet freedom have tightened considerably, forcing many independent outlets to disband. Falun Gong practitioners working in the territory’s media or online news sector have also been affected by the crackdown and also extralegal physical assaults. In March 2021, Hong Kong current affairs show host Rachel Wong was threatened by Chinese police for discussing the forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners on one of her YouTube channels.[3] Police officials reportedly told Wong’s relatives in China to pressure Wong into halting her broadcasts or she would face arrest under the draconian National Security Law and even possible removal to mainland China. On May 11, 2021, Sarah Liang, a long-time reporter for The Epoch Times, a news outlet founded by Falun Gong practitioners outside China, was assaulted by an unidentified man wielding an aluminum softball bat. She suffered multiple bruises on her legs, and told the media that the same man had tried the assault on May 8 at the same location in front of her home. The Hong Kong Journalists Association condemned the violence against Liang and urged the police to quickly bring the attacker to justice.[4] The targeted attack on Liang was part of a larger pattern. In 2019 and 2021, masked men disguised as pro-democracy protesters set fire to The Epoch Times print shop in the city, which led to condemnation by the Committee to Protect Journalists and U.S. Senators.[5]

 

Pro-Beijing forces urge harsher persecution: Beginning in early 2021, the pro-Beijing newspaper Ta Kung Pao, a voice of the CCP in Hong Kong, published eight articles accusing Falun Gong practitioners of “ignoring law and order in Hong Kong, inciting hatred, promoting anti-communism, infiltrating the community on all fronts and ‘poisoning’ the people of Hong Kong.”[6] The newspaper called on lawmakers and citizens to ban Falun Gong based on these false premises, On July 3, 2021, pro-Beijing Hong Kong politicians Elizabeth Quat and Wong Kwok-kin along with others heeded such calls and publicly urged the Hong Kong government to ban Falun Gong under the National Security Law. As mentioned above, as of April 2022, the government had taken no such action.

[1] Chris Lau, "Outlawed, branded a cult in mainland China, Falun Gong faces calls to be banned under Hong Kong’s national security law," South China Morning Post, July 12, 2021, https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3140680/outlawed-branded-cult-mainland-china-falun-gong-faces-calls

[2] https://www.ntd.com/falun-dafa-association-decries-hong-kong-lawmakers-attempt-to-ban-spiritual-practice_639704.html

[3] “Popular Hong Kong Show Host Threatened for Exposing Organ Harvesting,” Falun Dafa Information Center,  https://faluninfo.net/hong-kong-show-host-threatened-for-exposing-organ-harvesting/

[4] Frank Fang, “Epoch Times Reporter in Hong Kong Attacked by Bat-Wielding Man,” The Epoch Times, May 11, 2021, https://www.theepochtimes.com/mkt_breakingnews/epoch-times-reporter-attacked-by-man-with-baseball-bat-in-hong-kong_3810809.html

[5] Eva Fu, “US Senators Condemn Arson Attack on Hong Kong Epoch Times Printing Press,” The Epoch Times, November 19, 2019, https://www.theepochtimes.com/senators-condemn-arson-attack-on-hong-kong-epoch-times-printing-press_3151703.html

[6] “Falun Gong Movement Now Under Persecution Pressure In Hong Kong Too,” International Society for Human Rights, May 5, 2021, https://ishr.org/falun-gong-movement-now-under-persecution-pressure-in-hong-kong-too/