The participants called on Beijing to end its ongoing persecution of Falun Gong adherents in China, and to bring Chinese officials responsible for the persecution to justice.
The rally was staged at Civic Square outside of Hong Kong’s central government complex beginning at about 10 a.m. A parade then took off from King’s Road in the Eastern District of Hong Kong, beginning at roughly 2 p.m., and marched until it reached the China Liaison Office in Hong Kong.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is an ancient spiritual practice with meditative exercises and moral teachings based on truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. The practice became enormously popular by the late 1990s, with official estimates putting the number of adherents at about 70 million to 100 million in China.
However, former Chinese Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin viewed the group’s popularity as a threat to his rule. On July 20, 1999, Jiang launched a country-wide persecution to round up practitioners and throw them into prisons, brainwashing centers, labor camps, and psychiatric wards—in an effort to force them to abandon their faith.
Kan Hung-cheung, spokesperson of Hong Kong Dafa Association, which organized the rally and parade, said that “China’s violation of human rights has worsened,” with the Chinese regime extending its suppression to Chinese human rights lawyers, ethnic minorities, and other religious groups.
According to incomplete statistics compiled by Minghui.org, a U.S.-based website dedicated to reporting on the persecution, at least 837 adherents have been illegally sentenced to detention facilities from January to November this year.
Several current and former Hong Kong legislators either spoke in person or had their pre-recorded comments broadcast at the rally.
Tsang Kin-shing, a former legislator, said it was beneficial for Hong Kongers to learn about why Falun Gong adherents hold different events in Hong Kong.
“Hong Kongers must have a clear mind. Don’t be fooled by what the Chinese Communist Party says or does. The people of Hong Kong should stand up and fight for democracy, rule of law, and freedom for greater China,” Tsang said.
Lam Cheuk-ting, a legislator belonging to Hong Kong’s Democratic Party, called on Beijing to release all political prisoners, as well as those who are locked up because of their religious beliefs.
Lam added that Hong Kong is now also facing the problem of deteriorating human rights and erosion of its freedom. He called on Hongkongers to step up, as otherwise the region “will one day be like Xinjiang or Tibet [where the Chinese regime has severely cracked down on religious minorities]. At that time, we would not be able to voice what we want to say.”
During the four-hour-long, Falun Gong adherents held up colorful signs and banners, with Chinese characters that read “Falun Dafa Is Good” and “Say No to the CCP.”
Many Hong Kong citizens and mainland Chinese tourists stood nearby and watched.
A mainland Chinese citizen, who identified himself only by his surname Zhu, said he was stunned to see so many adherents of Falun Gong practice their faith freely.
“Hong Kong has freedom of expression,” said Zhu, who came from Harbin, a city in northern China’s Heilongjiang Province.