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  Hong Kong Falun Gong Member Held

By Margaret Wong
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, Aug. 2, 2001; 7:35 a.m. EDT

HONG KONG –– A Hong Kong resident belonging to the Falun Gong meditation sect, which is banned on the mainland, has been detained in Beijing, local followers and relatives said Thursday.

Police took Chan Yuk-to, a Hong Kong resident and Falun Gong practitioner, from his residence in eastern Beijing on the night of July 12, said Lau Yuk-ling, Chan's mother.

Lau, a Hong Kong resident who also belongs to Falun Gong, said authorities had not informed her or relatives in Beijing about the reason for her son's detention.

Police in Beijing declined comment.

Chan's father traveled to Beijing and learned that Chan was being held in the Balizhuang Detention Center in the eastern part of the city. Police did not allow him to see Chan, Lau said.

Chan, 34, is a graduate of the Beijing College of Architecture and Engineering. He was working in Beijing and was last heard from on July 8, Lau said.

Thousands of Falun Gong members are in jails and labor camps and tens of thousands have been arrested and pressured to renounce their beliefs since the government outlawed the group in 1999, accusing it of being a public menace and threat to Communist Party rule.

Falun Gong says many followers have been tortured and that 258 have been killed. Government officials deny allegations of mistreatment.

"I am worried that my son may have been beaten up or suffered from some harsh treatment," Lau said.

Lau said she had sent petitions to Hong Kong's Immigration Department and Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji seeking help. Immigration Department spokesman Sunny Ho said Hong Kong officials were making inquiries.

Despite the ban on the mainland, Falun Gong remains legal in Hong Kong, whose residents enjoy greater civil liberties under an autonomy arrangement agreed to when Britain handed the colony back to China in July 1997.

Chan is one of two Hong Kong members detained on the mainland, according to local Falun Gong spokesman Kan Hung-cheung.

Chu O-ming, a Hong Kong businessman, was seized on Sept. 7 after he filed a lawsuit accusing Chinese President Jiang Zemin of brutality in the crackdown against the spiritual group, Kan said. He said Chu was being held in a jail in the northern city of Tianjin.

Falun Gong has attracted millions of followers, most of them in China, with its combination of slow-motion exercises and its philosophy drawn from Taoism, Buddhism and the often unorthodox ideas of founder Li Hongzhi.

© Copyright 2001 The Associated Press

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