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Sunday, April 22, 2007

HK repeatedly denies entry to travelers from Taiwan

Taipei Times: Friday, Apr 20, 2007, Page 3 - DANGEROUS? In February 2003, 80 Taiwanese Falun Gong practitioners arrived in the territory for a conference, but were denied entry, allegedly for `security reasons' By Shih Hsiu-chuan

Last month, Chang Chi-yu (張志宇), an official with the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), was barred from entering Hong Kong after landing there with a delegation sent by the council to observe the territory's chief executive election, which was held on March 25.

"Even now I still have no idea why I was repatriated," said Chang, who formerly held a position at Chung Hwa Travel Service Hong Kong, Taiwan's representative office in the territory, for four years.

Ming Chu-cheng (明居正), a political science professor at National Taiwan University, said he was once in 2005 questioned at Hong Kong's airport for two hours without being given a reason.
"Not until the Hong Kong media were notified by my friends that I was being detained did the Hong Kong officials let me go," Ming said.

"I frequently travel to Hong Kong, but I never had such an experience before Hong Kong was returned to China [in 1997]," he said.

Adding to the list was an incident in February 2003, when some 80 Taiwanese Falun Gong practitioners arrived for an international conference, but were denied entry for "security reasons."

The incident drew widespread media attention when 10 female members were photographed being put into sacks by police officers and being carried to a plane for deportation.

US-based lawyer Theresa Chu (朱婉琪) and three other Taiwanese filed a lawsuit on behalf of the group against Lai Tung-kwok (黎棟國), director of Hong Kong's Information Department in April 2003.

They demanded the court to declare the deportation illegal and the abuse inappropriate, but the case was dismissed by the territory's High Court on March 23.

At a press conference organized by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang To-far (王塗發) in Taipei yesterday, Chu said:"The ruling demonstrated that justice is nearly dead in Hong Kong. China's dirty hand has interfered in Hong Kong, which used to have values of freedom."

Chu said that Justice Michael Hartmann (夏正民), the High Court judge, had ruled unfairly.
In his verdict, Hartmann said that the director was authorized to deny the entry of the Taiwanese plaintiffs because he can exercise "broad discretionary power."

Chu has argued that the deportation was in violation of Article 4 of the Hong Kong Basic Law, which stipulates that the authorities must safeguard the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents and of other persons in the administrative region.

Hartmann said the group had only landed in Hong Kong and wasn't really "in Hong Kong."
Commenting on the ruling, Kenneth Chiu (邱晃權), a human rights lawyer, said that "the degree to which Hong Kong's judiciary system has degenerated" since the territory's handover to China "surprised" him.

"Although there was no democracy in Hong Kong before then either, it did have law and order," Chiu said.

The four plaintiffs will appeal to Court of Appeals of the High Court on Monday, she said.

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