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Fears of violence as Falun Gong and foes clash over banners

Confrontations intensify as opponents of spiritual movement step up their protests

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 December, 2012, 3:59am
 

A banner war that has erupted between Falun Gong supporters and an organisation opposing them has alarmed lawmakers who fear it may escalate into violence.

In recent months an organisation called the Hong Kong Youth Care Association Limited has put up anti-Falun Gong banners in response to those placed by the spiritual movement, which is banned on the mainland.

The English slogans on the banners have included, "Boycott Falun Gong evil cult"; "Build a harmonious Hong Kong"; "Taiwan Falun Gong get out of Hong Kong"; "Eradicate Falun Gong"; "Cherish your life, stay away from the evil cult - Falun Gong"; and "Anti-Falun Gong".

They have appeared in Causeway Bay - especially near the Sogo department store - as well as near Hung Hom train station, the Star Ferry terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui, the Wong Tai Sin Temple, and along Nathan Road as far as Mong Kok. Places as far away as Tung Chung and Yuen Long also have the banners.

In July, members of the two groups argued angrily over banner space at the Lok Ma Chau Transport Interchange at the border. One anti-Falun Gong activist allegedly threatened a reporter from the Epoch Times, a Taiwan-based newspaper supportive of Falun Gong, with a knife. The incident was reported to the police, but an investigation found insufficient evidence to arrest anyone for possessing an offensive weapon.

Tensions between the groups have since escalated with banners belonging to each organisation being torn down regularly.

Labour Party chairman Lee Cheuk-yan said Falun Gong was a lawful organisation and had the right to free speech. He said he was more disturbed by the fact that the police did not intervene when disturbances between the two groups occurred.

"All lawful organisations need protection, whether they support Falun Gong or not, and should be treated with respect," Lee said. "But the police have not acted when there's been a breach of the peace directed at Falun Gong, and this is a worry. All organisations should be treated equally."

Lee was also suspicious of the Hong Kong Youth Care Association's motives, calling it a "fishy organisation" that was obviously "pro-Beijing".

Lawmaker "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung said the confrontations had to stop, and if the police did not take down the anti-Falun Gong banners, he would do it himself.

Youth Care's spokesman, Lam Kwok-on, has been associated with the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong in recent years. The organisation's registered office is in On Lok Tsuen, Fanling. Nobody from the organisation would comment.

A police spokesman said that only the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department had the authority to remove the banners of either organisation. The department said it was aware of the banners of both groups, but said it would not take action against protest activities.

The Lands Department said neither group had sought the approvals necessary to put up banners in the past six months. But a spokeswoman for Falun Gong argued that banners could legally be placed so long as they were only up for a few hours a day, and not overnight.

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This article is now closed to comments

johnyung
While we all know how important free speech is, but how is Falung Gong able to occupy all these places permanently. How about other people's rights? As their spokesman said it is legal to put up a few hours but not over night.
RobinDeCaro
I want to tell you:
1.both pro and anti Falun Gong propaganda are displayed without a permit.Fair enough,neither one can accuse of the other party of illegal dispaly.
2.Your image of China is strictly your own freedom,may not be everyone's perception.Futhermore,would you please read the banners of Falun Gongs' banners carefully,do they have hard evidences on the incidents they alleged?Would it constitutes libel? Under the common law persists in HK,only accusations supported by evidences would be sustained.May be both pro and anti parties have not hard evidences,fair enough.
Sunny
Hong Kong Youth Care Association Limited also looks like a dangerous gang of senior thugs brandishing weapons as they protest, as seen in this video.
****ntdtv.org/en/news/china/2012-12-03/hong-kong-legislators-rally-behind-falun-gong.html
Sunny
Hong Kong Youth Care Association Limited is obviously a pro-communist and CCP backed organisation. It reveals how afraid the CCP are of religion to take such desperate measure with banners stating such things as: "Build a harmonious Hong Kong"; "Cherish your life” and calling the leader a wanted criminal and seeking for ‘justice’.
We all know what ‘harmony’ means when the CCP uses this enforced term. It means to suppress those who step out of line from their authority. How can the CCP use terms like ‘cherish your life’ when they have such a poor human rights record on the mainland? And the mention of ‘justice’ is also laughable – do they really understand the definition of such words? And will such ‘criminal’ according to their judgement be put through the rigours of ‘rule of law’ if caught or will it be scripted like many of their court cases?
Isn’t the Dalai Lama also labeled a terrorist and criminal by the CCP? Goes to show how distorted their thinking has truly become.
‘Hong Kong Youth Care Association Limited’. What does ‘youth care’ mean in this organization? To take care of the youth of HK by enforced national education to make docile, obedient and patriotic/loving citizens of the communist red flag?
yuuzan
Those anti-Falung Gong banners seem like libel to me. Is that actually legal in Hong Kong? From what I read, that Youth Association may be linked to the Mainland's Anti-Cult Association. Mainland propaganda in Hong Kong. The Mainland's influence really is becoming more pervasive. I also just read that the new chip-enabled bank cards will use China's UnionPay instead of Cirrus/Plus - which seems like a big step backwards but is another sign of the Mainland shaping HK in its own image.
babyhenry
Hong Kong Style free speech, only China bashing welcome. Anything else is "Fishy" or not even legal when they both adopt the same hardcore propaganda style. BTW mainland propaganda in HK has always been around, Da Gong, Wen wei, etc leftist newspapers. You can throw our local television ATV in the bunch too.
From what i read even amnesty isn't willing to stand behind FLG's claim are they not libel?

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