The pregnant Falun Gong follower who voluntarily flew out of Hong Kong on Saturday after going on hunger strike because she was refused entry returned yesterday - and was deported four hours later.
Wendy Fang Wengqing, who is more than five months' pregnant, arrived at 9am on a China Airlines flight from Taipei and was detained by Immigration Department officers after entering the terminal.
Officers kept Ms Fang, 30, in the restricted area until shortly before 1pm, when she was put on a China Airlines flight back to Taipei.
A department statement said: "She was sent back to Taipei in the afternoon, and for her own safety, immigration officers accompanied her as she boarded the plane."
Friends of Ms Fang condemned immigration officers for the way she was treated. "She called me and said she had been tied to a wheelchair very forcefully," said Mary Qian, 45, a software engineer from San Francisco.
Ms Fang travels on a mainland passport and did not have a relevant visa for the SAR, said the department. Ms Fang had first arrived on June 28, and embarked on a hunger strike, leading to the first High Court order permitting force-feeding.
A pregnant member of the Falungong sect was refused entry into Hong Kong on Monday and flown to Taiwan, just days after she was deported from the territory, an immigration spokesman said Tuesday.
Five-month pregnant Wendy Fang, in her 30s, attempted to return to Hong Kong at 10 a.m. (0200 GMT) on Monday, just two days after she had been flown back home to San Fransisco.
She was refused entry into Hong Kong for failing to meet immigration requirements, the same reason given for the previous refusal.
"Fang travels on a People Republic of China passport. Therefore, in order to enter Hong Kong, she must firstly apply for a visa. As she was not in possession of one, then we were unable to grant her entry," an immigration spokesman said.
The spokesman insisted Fang's refusal was entirely due to her failure to meet immigration requirements and was not in any way related to her status as a Falungong member.
The Chinese government banned the Falungong movement in July last year after labelling it an "evil cult." It is still legal in Hong Kong, the only place in China where it is officially tolerated.
Fang was previously refused entry into the territory, along with two other Falungong members, on June 28.
While the other two were returned to Japan and Macau, immigration officers were restrained from forcibly moving Fang onto a flight home because of her condition.
She was admitted into a custodial ward at Hong Kong's Queen Elizabeth Hospital after suffering dehydration following a hunger strike to protest against being refused entry.
An unprecendented court order then granted doctors the right to force feed Fang.
After being interviewed by immigration authorities, Fang was flown to Taipei in Taiwan at 2 p.m. (0600 GMT), as this had been her last port of embarkation after taking a flight from San Francisco.
Mary Qian, a Falungong spokeswoman, condemned Fang's "brutal" treatment at the hands of the authorities, alleging that they "forced her into a wheelchair and then bound her feet and hands."
She also said officers "placed a cloth into her mouth to prevent her protestations" drawing blood.
Fang's saga began after she had flown to her native city of Shanghai from San Francisco to visit relatives, but was turned back to Hong Kong and then refused entry to the Special Administrative Region on June 28.
Falungong is a Chinese mystic belief system based on the teachings of exiled master Li Hongzhi, who advocates Confucian and Buddhist moral values and group breathing and meditation exercises.
Members of the Falun Gong spiritual group on Monday afternoon accused Immigration Department officers of beating pregnant practitioner Wendy Fang Wengqing and forcing her - bound and gagged - to board a China Airline flight to Taipei.
The plane arrived in Taipei at 3.15pm and was scheduled to leave for the United States later in the evening.
An Immigration Department spokesman called the accusations ''impossible''.
Ms Fang, who is five-months pregnant, holds a mainland passport but does not have a visa to enter the SAR.
She was making her second failed attempt to enter the territory, where she hoped to join a small band of other Falun Gong believers to view a hoped-for apparition of the Buddha atop a Lantau peak. The Falun Gong is banned on the mainland but is lawful in Hong Kong.
Ms Fang's return came as a surprise. Last weekend, the mother-to-be ended an 11-day hunger strike at the airport and left for her home in San Francisco, departing before a court order was effected that would have let officials force-feed her to protect the unborn child.
Falun Gong practitioners told SCMP.com that Ms Fang was gagged, bound and placed in a wheelchair before being put aboard the Taipei flight.
''They beat her, put a cloth in her mouth and covered her head. They also tied her feet to the wheelchair, '' said Mary Qian, a friend of Ms Fang.
''They can't treat a pregnant woman like that.''
Ms Qian said Ms Fang had arrived the SAR around 9am and was immediately detained by immigration officers.
A spokesman for the Immigration Department termed the accusation of mistreatment ''impossible'', adding: ''We had colleagues accompany her to board the plane, and this was for Ms Fang's safety and health.''
One source charged that Ms Fang had attempted to harm herself and officials had to act promptly, without providing details.
A member of the Taipei airport staff who escorted Ms Fang to take a rest said that ''there isn't a bruise on her, except on her tongue, which we believe she had bitten herself.''
Ms Fang, a software engineer, was one of three Falun Gong members who arrived Hong Kong on June 28 and were denied entry. But she rejected deportation, stayed in Chek Lap Kok and began a hunger strike that lasted 11 days and ended with the court order.
She had also said that she planned - after experiencing the Buddha's appearance - to visit her parents in Shanghai.
''She thinks this [appearance] is the most important thing in her life,'' said Ms Qian, adding: ''Her family worries about her health, but what can they do? After all, it is her decision.''
Ms Qian came to Hong Kong a few weeks ago, as did some 20 more Falun Gong practitioners from overseas, because they believe the Buddha is about to reveal himself at the statue of his likeness on Lantau.
The SAR has been scrupulous in being seen to uphold the principle of "one country, two systems" in its dealings with members of the Falun Gong sect. Outlawed on the mainland as a perceived threat to social order, the group's members are free to protest and to practise their exercises and propound their beliefs in the SAR. This liberal approach contrasts sharply with the scenes in Beijing of Falun Gong members, many of them elderly women, being roughly handled by security forces. Such images have undoubtedly helped the group to receive what has been generally positive international press coverage. Regardless of the merits of the group's beliefs, its protests in Hong Kong have been peaceful and dignified.
So it would be highly unfortunate if the hunger strike by Wendy Fang Wenqing was to be linked in any way with the Falun Gong movement. Her actions have nothing to do with freedom of speech, the Government placing restrictions on Falun Gong, or indeed any matter of principle.
The case is a simple one: Ms Fang, who by coincidence purports to be a Falun Gong member, is seeking entry to Hong Kong, but does not possess the correct documentation - as the holder of a mainland passport, she requires a visa. This makes her declaration that she has been blacklisted quite ridiculous. Others have also attempted to mould the situation to suit their purpose. Mary Qian Zhizheng, a friend of Ms Fang's and a fellow sect member who entered Hong Kong on a US passport, claims: "The SAR Government has been telling the world it tolerates Falun Gong, but it has eaten its words." This is a ludicrous distortion.
The fact that Ms Fang is five months pregnant makes her decision to launch a hunger strike reprehensible.
Legally, adults who are capable of making a rational decision have the right to refuse food. But there are exceptions; and one of these exceptions applies to pregnant women.
Legally, therefore, there is no question that the High Court was in the right yesterday when it granted permission for Ms Fang to be forced to accept food "with minimal force".
Legality aside, it is morally right that this action should be taken. No woman has the right to intentionally put her unborn child at risk in this way; and certainly not for the sake of a twisted sense of principle.
It is to be hoped that Ms Fang will now continue to co-operate with doctors who are intent on saving both her own life and that of her unborn child.
Doctors were yesterday granted a High Court order allowing them to force-feed a pregnant woman on hunger strike, to save the life of her unborn baby.
Five-months' pregnant Falun Gong member Wendy Fang Wengqing, 30, had been on hunger strike for four days and had not taken any liquid for two in protest at not being allowed into Hong Kong.
The court order believed to be the first of its kind in the territory was issued as her condition deteriorated to serious and she was admitted to the custody ward of Queen Elizabeth Hospital with dehydration.
The order allows the hospital to put Ms Fang on an intravenous drip, to feed her with minimal force and to conduct medical examinations on her and her foetus, with or without her consent. No force-feeding action was taken in the immediate aftermath of the order and Ms Fang started drinking milk voluntarily at 7pm. Later, she ate toast and drank some water.
According to the law, no one of sound mind can be force-fed, although there are exceptions in the cases of minors and pregnant women.
Solicitor Wong Kwok-tung said that under common law a court must act to protect a person's life when endangered. ''There's no particular law saying the court must do it and under what exact circumstance it should act. But in the present case, it's very likely the court considered the life of not only the adult but the unborn baby,'' he said.
Ms Fang, a software engineer from San Francisco, was one of three Falun Gong followers denied entry to the SAR on June 28.
A Security Bureau spokesman said last night Ms Fang would face deportation when her health improved. She said there would be no change in the Immigration Department's decision.
The hospital's chief executive, Dr York Chow Yat-ngok, said last night Ms Fang was ''calm and co-operative'' after he and the Hospital Authority's legal counsel delivered the court order.
Ms Fang, admitted to the hospital on Tuesday, had refused all medical tests, including monitoring of her blood pressure and pulse. Counselling by the Social Welfare Department yesterday morning failed to change her mind.
''She has been in a dehydrated state. She refused to drink and eat. She even refused to let any nurse or doctor touch her,'' Dr Chow said. ''We are professionals and we are not willing to see her die in front of our eyes.''
The hospital's senior staff and members of its ethics committee held an emergency meeting yesterday morning and decided to file an application to the court. ''If we had not filed the application, we would have just been waiting for her to die. I explained to her that we did not want to force her to do anything, but we had to do it for the sake of her life and her baby's life. She has since promised to look after herself.'' Dr Chow insisted his staff would avoid using force or invasive procedures.
Ms Fang's unborn baby was found to be normal in an examination on Tuesday.
Albert Ho Chun-yan, a lawyer and former legislator, said the hospital and the court had acted properly. ''There is no dispute about what they have done, but there should not be any excessive violence.''
Mr Ho, who criticised the Immigration Department's decision, said Ms Fang should make a formal appeal against the denial of entry. Ms Fang claimed there was a political motive behind the refusal. Officials say she failed to meet visa requirements.
Her friend, Wong Chui-li, said that Ms Fang had spoken to her on Tuesday and insisted she would continue with her hunger strike even if it cost her and her baby their lives.
A spokesman for Falun Gong's SAR branch, Kan Hung-cheung, last night described the court's decision as ''wise''.
The mainland Government banned the sect in July last year after labelling it an ''evil cult''.
BEIJING--Falun Gong's founder is telling his followers that China's crackdown on the banned spiritual movement is an "evil-wrought" test foretold by Nostradamus.
Li Hongzhi, who disappeared from public view shortly after Beijing outlawed the group last July, addressed his followers in a poem and two statements published on a Falun Gong Web site.
While Li's followers have defied the crackdown with protests at which thousands have been arrested and, practitioners say, some killed by police, Li has fueled his mystique with silence.
The former government grain clerk, who moved to New York in 1998, six years after founding Falun Gong, gave interviews and issued statements shortly after the government banned his movement as a menace to society and Communist Party authority.
Since then, however, the only sighting has been a photo published Jan. 19 and posted on Falun Gong Web sites of Li sitting cross-legged on a rocky nook on a cliff.
The caption says the photo was shot "after the Master left New York in July" but gives no details. Likewise, neither his statements nor his poem, titled "The Knowing Heart," shed light on Li's whereabouts.
Falun Gong spokeswoman Gail Rachlin said Friday that she hasn't seen Li since last July, but "as far as I know he's still around the New York area."
In a statement dated June 28, Li said Nostradamus' prediction that "in the year 1999 and seven months, from the skies will come a Great King of Terror" foretold the government crackdown on Falun Gong in July 1999.
Nostradamus a 16th century astrologer, published a book of prophecies that contained a series of rhymed quatrains grouped in hundreds, each said to represent a century.
In his poem, Li appeared to indicate that followers who weather the crackdown will be revealed as true believers.
"The mountains shake, the seas churn, and the ferocious waves billow . . ." he wrote. "Some flee for their lives, deserting capsized boats and torn sails. As the mud and sand are completely sifted, gold shines forth."
His other statement referred to "those who've been sifted out during the evil-wrought tests," apparently practitioners who have abandoned Falun Gong in the face of government pressure.
But "disciples who have passed the comprehensive and most rigorous tests have laid a rock-solid foundation" for the movement, Li wrote.
Although China has banned and destroyed books, publications and tapes that Falun Gong practitioners used, Li urged them to keep studying "every day with a calm mind."
Pregnant Falun Gong member Wendy Fang Wenqing was awaiting deportation last night after staging a hunger strike for 40 hours after being refused entry to the SAR on Wednesday.
Immigration chiefs said they would deport Ms Fang to Taipei, from where she arrived, "as soon as possible". But the software engineer, who lives in San Francisco, said her experience would not deter her from making future trips to Hong Kong, and she maintained the bar was politically motivated.
She also suspected a connection with her arrest in Beijing while she talked to friends at a Falun Gong rally in March. "I must have been blacklisted," Ms Fang said. She said she had intended to travel on to Shanghai via Hong Kong to visit her elderly parents.
Ms Fang, 30, who is five months pregnant, was taken to Princess Margaret Hospital at 2am yesterday because Immigration Department officers felt that she and her unborn baby could be at risk due to lack of food. After eating there she was returned to the airport.
A spokesman for the Immigration Department said Ms Fang's case had nothing to do with her beliefs. "She was refused entry simply because she did not meet stay requirements," the spokesman said. He denied any blacklist of Falun Gong members existed.
Ms Fang, who is married to a US citizen, travelled to Hong Kong on a mainland passport. Her claim that immigration officers demanded that she supply a list of Falun Gong practitioners and leaders was flatly denied.
Ms Fang's friend Mary Qian Zhizheng, also a member of the sect and visiting on a US passport, condemned the "violation" of the "one country, two systems" principle by the SAR Government. "It is totally outrageous that the SAR banned her from entering so that she would not be able to go to China. The SAR Government has been telling the world it tolerates Falun Gong, but it has eaten its words," Ms Qian said.
The mainland Government banned the movement, which conducts group breathing and meditation exercises, in July last year after labelling it an "evil cult". Tens of thousands of practitioners have since been detained and core leaders jailed for up to 18 years.
What Is Falun Gong? See "Falun Gong 101", by Massimo Introvigne
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