Hong Kong Falun Gong members accuse Singapore of persecuting its followers

Singapore, China - About 50 Falun Gong members Tuesday protested outside Singapore's Consulate General in Hong Kong, demanding the city-state overturn convictions against two of its followers for distributing VCDs that promote their beliefs.

"Singapore stop persecuting Falun Gong. Don't be China's accomplice," read a protest banner unfurled by the spiritual group, which was banned as an "evil cult" in China.

The two Falun Gong members in Singapore, Ng Chye Huay, 40, and Cheng Lu Jin, 38, were convicted of distributing unauthorized VCDs and participating in an illegal assembly.

Last week, Ng refused to pay a fine of 20,000 Singapore dollars (US$12,190; €9,485) and chose to serve a five-month jail term instead. Cheng also did not pay a 24,000 Singapore dollars (US$14,629; €11,382) fine and was sentenced to jail for six months.

In a petition letter to Singapore's Consulate General in Hong Kong, Falun Gong criticized Singapore's courts for ignoring the constitutional rights of Ng and Cheng.

"Spreading their own belief is their basic right," the letter read.

"We call on the Singapore government to release them immediately and take necessary measures to overturn the wrong convictions," said a Hong Kong Falun Gong spokesman Kan Hung-cheung.

Darryl Lau, Singapore's consul in Hong Kong, said he will convey the letter back to his government.

"Registered societies are free to carry out activities in Singapore, provided the activities do not break any of the laws. This applies to all organizations," Lau said by phone.

The followers staged a sit-in on the street across the building where the office of Singapore's Consulate General was located before dispersing peacefully.

Falun Gong often accuses Beijing of arresting and torturing its followers on the mainland, but it is legal for them to practice in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Singapore's laws, however, require a police permit for outdoor gatherings of more than four people.