Tense Situation in Hong Kong Airport

June 30, 2007 Updated: June 30, 2007

The following is the transcript between Australian based Sound of Hope (SOH) reporter Ben Smith interviewing Ms Ichun Ko, a Falun Gong practitioner from Taiwan who is currently detained along with hundreds of others in Hong Kong airport.

Ms Ichun Ko Arrived in Hong Kong at 11pm Friday June 29 on China Airlines flight CI 619. They were situated in the duty free area at the time of the interview. The Interview was done via mobile phone at 8.30pm June 30.

SOH Reporter: Tell us what the situation is over in Hong Kong now, please give us the details from when you first arrived until now.

Ichun Ko: Yesterday (Friday June 29) around 500 Falun Gong practitioners entered Hong Kong airport, but from what we understand is that around 250 have been detained at the airport.

There are actually more Falun Gong practitioners who have entered Hong Kong today(Saturday June 30). As far as we know, some practitioners who entered immigration yesterday have had their passports taken and subsequently detained. There are a number of different location where the Falun Gong practitioners are detained. Some practitioners are held in a small room, others are in the departure lounge.

After seeing other practitioners with their passports taken and detained, the Falun Gong practitioners further back of the line have since stopped moving forward to hand in their passports. Currently the situation can be described as very tense.

SOH Reporter: Have you witnessed any violence against the people who have been detained?

Ichun Ko: So far we have heard that there are no more Falun Gong practitioners handing forward their passports and that there are a number of practitioners being detained in different locations.

There's a new group of Falun Gong practitioners who have not been processed at immigration and were just in the flight transfer area. From there they could see a small room where some Falun Gong practitioners were detained. They saw what happened to those detained practitioners and which can be described as brutal. The Falun Gong practitioners were wrapped up in blankets which were secured with some black material. The bound practitioners were then dragged out on the floor.

The Falun Gong practitioners detained in the rooms were treated like this in groups and they were taken or dragged out of the room at different intervals within a few hours.

From what we can see is that there is a small room holding Falun Gong practitioners. We cannot see the practitioners detained elsewhere and do not know what their current situation is.

Currently there's around 50 Falun Gong practitioners who have witnessed their fellow practitioners being detained and sent back so have held on to their own passports. They are currently staying in the flight transfer room doing the Falun Gong exercises, meditating or reading.

This is what we have been seeing.

In the whole process, it appears that the Hong Kong authorities have mobilised a heavy police, security and staff force to keep watch on the practitioners.

As mentioned earlier. The room where the Falun Gong practitioners have been kept is under heavy police watch. The practitioners who have not been processed by immigration and have held on to their passports have also been surrounded by police. Consequently, neither group can get in contact with the other. On top of that there's also a green screen to separate the Falun Gong practitioners so that other tourists cannot see what is happening to them.

It can be said that there has been a heavy movement of police and security personnel, yet the authorities seem to want to keep what is really happening from being seen by others. This is the current situation as we can see.

SOH Reporter: What reason are the authorities giving for not letting you into Hong Kong?

Ichun Ko: Initially, the Hong Kong authorities gave no reasons as to why the practitioners have been detained. Afterwards they have simply stated that the reason is the practitioners are not welcome.

SOH Reporter: How many Falun Gong practitioners are with you now?

Ichun Ko: I can see about 50 or 60 Falun Gong practitioners. I know there's a lot more than that but I cannot see them. I'm not sure the exact number of Falun Gong practitioners here.

SOH Reporter: What about food and bathroom facilites, has access been given for these?

Ichun Ko: The situation today is that the Falun Gong practitioners who have been surrounded by police have had no access to food or toilets. They were surrounded for quite a few hours. So the situation is that the surrounded practitioners do not have access to food or toilets.

SOH Reporter: So the police are surrounding a group of Falun Gong practitioners?

Ichun Ko: Yes the other group is also surrounded insofar as that they are separated from the other Falun Gong practitioners.