Five Taiwanese Falun Gong practitioners yesterday criticized a Hong Kong court for giving in to pressure from Chinese authorities.
In a legal battle that has lasted for more than six years, the Court of Appeal of the High Court of Hong Kong on Friday dismissed their appeal of a ruling in their case against Hong Kong’s Immigration Department.
The case stems from an incident in February 2003 in which Hong Kong immigration authorities refused entry to more than 80 Taiwanese Falun Gong practitioners at Hong Kong International Airport. The Taiwanese had valid visas and were on their way to attend a conference.
Following the incident, four of the practitioners filed a court complaint arguing they had been denied entry based solely on their beliefs. A fifth practitioner later joined the complaint.
The immigration authority denied that the Taiwanese travelers were turned away because of their Falun Gong affiliation, claiming they posed a threat to national security.
Theresa Chu (朱婉琪), one of the five appellants and a lawyer, who also represented the group in court, yesterday called the ruling by the appeals court “strange” and “unjust.”
At a press conference in Taipei, Chu said that in the more than 90-page long ruling, the judges devoted 60 pages to criticizing the immigration department, and by extension the Hong Kong government, for breaching the principle of “candor,” a legal duty by which the government must not purposely mislead the court or obstruct its proceedings by withholding key information.
“If you just read the 60 pages where the judges criticize the Hong Kong government, you would think the court ruled in our favor — but it didn’t,” Chu said.
The court lacked the courage to make a ruling free from political pressure, she said.
Chu said the case was full of contradictions and loopholes.
In 2005, two immigration officers questioned as witnesses said the Falun Gong practitioners were sent back to Taiwan for “national security” reasons, but refused to provide documents related to the incident.
After the court ordered the immigration department to provide the documents, the department said all documents and records related to the appellants had been destroyed just weeks after the 2003 incident.
Chu said this was just one of many instances in which the department seems to have misled or lied to the court.
Chinese authorities already control Hong Kong’s administrative and legislative branches, Chu said.
Now “even the judicial system, the last frontier, has been compromised.”
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