Phone calls criticise ban on Falun Gong-linked dance group

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 February, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 February, 2010, 12:00am

People in Hong Kong have been bombarded with pre-recorded phone messages recently criticising the government's decision to deny visas for some members of a dance troupe affiliated with the Falun Gong.

The group confirmed it had been contacted by residents about the calls, but denied sending them.

Last month, the Immigration Department refused to issue visas to six members of the Shen Yun Performing Arts group shortly before its performance and forced it to cancel seven full-house shows.

On the eve of a 300-strong rally against the decision yesterday, a Post reader said he received a pre-recorded message when he picked up the phone at home on Friday afternoon.

The message summed up the details of the event and warned that Hong Kong's freedom was being jeopardised by the government's 'collaboration with the Chinese communist regime', according to the reader, who only gave his surname Cheung. While the message stopped short of urging people to join the rally, it called for action to defend Hong Kong's freedom.

But the Hong Kong Association of Falun Dafa said neither the group nor the dance troupe made such calls and they had not endorsed any groups for such acts.

'We have also heard of people who have received a similar message but it was not from us,' spokesman Kan Hung-cheung said. 'We will look into the matter but the calls may not be driven by ill intentions.'

Kan said they might file suits against the government for damages - estimated to reach millions - caused by the cancellations, including the costs of accommodation and air tickets for the troupe and the refund of 7,000 tickets sold.

About 300 Falun Gong followers joined the protest and marched to the central government's liaison office in Western, as they said the Hong Kong administration was collaborating with the central government to interfere with the dance troupe's shows.

James To Kun-sun, a Democratic Party lawmaker, said people could simply hang up the phone if they found the message a nuisance as there were no laws against circulation of pre-recorded messages for non-commercial purposes.

A government spokesman said: 'We will not comment on individual cases.' Each case was considered on its merits, he said.




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