Kin of 12 detained Hong Kong residents protest near Chinese prison, seek release
HONG KONG – Supporters and relatives of 12 Hong Kong residents detained by China for trying to flee the city to Taiwan by boat staged a protest on Saturday on an island near the Chinese prison where they are lodged. For nearly three months, they have been held incommunicado.
As many as 11 men and one woman were arrested by Chinese coastguard while they were on their way to Taiwan on a speedboat on August 23.
They have been charged with rioting and violation of the new national security law imposed on the city by Beijing in June.
Supporters and kin of the detainees hiked all the way to the summit of Kat O island in the isolated northeastern reaches of Hong Kong, overlooking China’s high-tech boomtown of Shenzhen, and the Yantian district where they are being incarcerated.
Some of them used a pair of binoculars to view a hill where the detention centre is situated. They said they wanted the Chinese authorities to deal with the cases in a just, fair and transparent manner.
The members of the group also inflated blue and white balloons and wrote the names of the detainees on them before releasing them into the sky. As the balloons went up, they chanted for “immediate safe return” while holding white banners reading “SAVE 12” and “Return Home”.
“I hope he can see the balloons and know we didn’t give up yet,” said the wife of detainee Wong Wai-yin.
Later, a Hong Kong police vessel dropped anchor near the island and officers questioned all reporters present and took down their details.
Chinese authorities have dismissed requests of family members and lawyers to visit the 12. They insist that the detainees will be granted officially authorised lawyers. Seven detainees last week wrote letters to their families. But the relatives said they were written under duress.
According to Eddie Chu, a former lawmaker who recently resigned in protest against political suppression under the draconian national security law, said it was imperative to keep fighting.
“We are so close to them, just a few kilometres in reality, but in fact it’s like … something unreachable. So we need to have the balloons to do this for us.”