Families of Hong Kong detainees seek China’s permission to meet them
HONG KONG – The kith and kin of 12 Hong Kong residents arrested by China at sea last month have demanded permission to meet them in a petition to the representative office of the mainland on Wednesday.
Of the 12, 10 are facing charges related to anti-government protests last year. They were held on Aug. 23 for allegedly straying into mainland Chinese waters while on their way to self-governed Taiwan.
According to their family members, they are detained in Shenzen and are prevented from seeking access to lawyers.
Five relatives of the detained persons gathered outside China’s Hong Kong Liaison Office, chanting “return our children,” “meet us immediately,” and “reject government appointed lawyers.”
The arrest of the 12, who are termed ‘separatists’ by China, has stoked fears that Beijing would the end push for greater democracy in the city.
The father of detainee Cheng Tsz-ho said in tears: “I just want to see if my son is ok.”
Hong Kong city authorities said the 12 detainees will be allowed to choose their lawyers from a list provided by the mainland authorities and that they have given “needed and feasible” help to their families.
The liaison office said in a statement on Tuesday that the facts about their crimes were clear and people with vested interests were spreading canards about the 12 to foment illegal protests.
“Our family members are disappeared. We couldn’t see them or give them medicine. We want our own lawyers, not government-appointed lawyers,” said the mother of detainee Li Tsz-yin.
Activist Owen Chow read out a joint statement which said the lawyers they had chosen were not given permission and were pressured by the mainland authorities to drop the case. The relatives said the city authorities had not provided any “concrete assistance”.
They left mooncakes, traditional gift for the approaching mid-Autumn festival, near barricades surrounding the Liaison Office.
“I hope we can reunite for next year’s festival,” the wife of Wong Wai-yin, another detainee, said.
“I just want to see my husband. We are not here to make a mess. Why has Hong Kong become like this?”