For many years, displaced and local members of the Falun Gong have attempted to get their message across to mainland visitors at key tourist sites around the city. Whilst some of their claims are said to be exaggerated, the suppression of their movement and persecution of those who practice the spiritual discipline is very much real.
In fact, Beijing has an extra-constitutional body dedicated to the “eradication” of the group, via extra-judicial sentencing, coercive ‘re-education’ and torture. The New York Times reported that 2,000 Falun Gong adherents have been tortured to death since the persecution campaign began in 1999. Today, the Falun Gong diaspora sport their own newspaper and TV channel, having established themselves as one of the main voices of opposition to China’s one-party rule…
Recently, fellow HK blogger BadCanto reported on a sudden spate of anti-Falun Gong banners featuring crude slogans normally seen north the border. The banners are so prolific in Yau Tsim Mong district that it sparked a debate regarding the line between free speech and littering. Slogans spotted in Kowloon, Tung Chung, Yuen Long and Causeway Bay include:
“Falun Gong members cut up abdomens by themselves so that they can ‘seek Wheel of Life’ – yet, they tell people their organs were stolen”.
“Taiwan Falun Gong get out of Hong Kong”..
“Build a harmonious Hong Kong”.
“Eradicate Falun Gong”.
“Cherish your life, stay away from the evil cult – Falun Gong”.
The banners were placed by ‘Hong Kong Youth Care Association Limited‘, an organisation widely accepted to be a faux-grassroots ‘astroturfing‘ group funded directly by Beijing which pays supposed ‘volunteers’ to protest. Furthermore, their registered office is rented for free to the group by a mainland beer company. The Association is said to be led by Chen Jianhua, Lin Guoxiong, Lin Guo-an (a mainland politician/Communist Party activist) and former-DAB member Lam Kwok-on.
At a Youth Care Association rally on National Day, a ‘protester’ named Ma said: “I was dragged here by a friend, and I have no idea what the rally is about. I came here for fun. It’s like a one-day tour of Hong Kong”. The ‘demonstrators’ arrived in three tour buses and totalled around 100. Ma went on to say that she did not know any other participants, nor did she know who the organisers were (video below in Chinese).
Happy to shit-stir, the South China Morning Mouthpiece suggests that the feud between the two sides may “escalate into violence“. Certainly, members of the Youth Care Association have proven to be aggressive.
Labour Party chairman Lee Cheuk-yan has stated that he was disturbed to learn that police have refused to intervene between the two sides, whilst an ever-’pro-active’ Long Hair has stated he’ll happily remove the inciting banners if the police fail to.
Interactive map showing locations in Yau Tsim Mong, via BadCanto.
Since Battle of the Banners began, a backlash has also commenced. A female Falun Gong practitioner was recently fined HK$4,500 for damaging anti-Falun Gong banners near an MTR exit. Two weeks ago, a 40-year-old man was arrested for damaging 17 similar banners in Tsim Sha Tsui.
Local netizens hailed him as a hero whilst Hong Kongers clearly remain embarrassed by the highly visible campaign…
In response, hired security guards have appeared alongside some protest sites…
Despite the lack of police action, HK remains a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states that “any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.”
Below is a complete edition of RTHK’s current affairs programme ‘The Pulse’, broadcast in November…