Families of activists captured on mainland urge their return

Local | 12 Sep 2020 5:46 pm

Families of 12 fugitives who were captured while fleeing to Taiwan on a speedboat have raised concerns over the unknown status of the detainees held on the mainland, and pleaded the SAR government to assist in reaching them. 

This came as a mainland human rights lawyer revealed his client – one of the dozen – needed regular medication to treat depression on Friday, but neither he nor the woman's relatives were allowed to deliver medicines to the Yantian District Detention Centre in Shenzhen, where the group was being held. 

In a press conference today, families of six of those detained said they are worried about the situation of the group, as lawyers' attempts to see the clients had been met with ambiguous responses. 

A mother of one of the detained said she had hired a lawyer to meet his son but was informed that by authorities at the detention center that “some other lawyers” had been dealing with the case. 

“My son would never hire a lawyer on the mainland, we don't have any relatives or friends there,” she said, adding that she hadn't been able to visit his son over the past three weeks. 

A wife of another detainee said all their inquiries about the detainees have been met with bureaucratic responses. Even a mainland lawyer they hired was asked not to take the case by the authorities, she said. 

Brother and mother of another detainee said they were concerned about his health condition as he has asthma and skin disease that need constant medication. They said they also fear something must have happened to him, which explained why requests for access is being denied. 

Pro-democracy lawmakers Eddie Chu How-dick and James To Kan-sun are helping the families. 

“Their legal right to representation is being undermined. It is only right that the Hong Kong government discuss with the mainland authorities so that Hong Kong person's legal right under the mainland law should be respected,” said To. 

In response, the Immigration Department told the press that they have received 10 inquiries from the families, and a unit tasked to provide assistance outside the SAR had been maintaining close contacts with them.

The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Guangdong, which was also following up the case, said they would inform mainland authorities about those who have medical needs. It is understood that all 12 detainees were in good health conditions and had hired lawyers on the mainland. 

On August 23, the Guangdong coastguard confirmed it intercepted a speedboat with a dozen people on board in mainland waters southeast of Hong Kong. They were arrested for illegally entering mainland territory. 

According to reports from i-Cable News, three of the 12 people needed regular medication, two suffered from depression and the other an asthma patient. 

Local activist Andy Li – who was arrested by Hong Kong Police for allegedly breaching the national security law on August 10 – is among the 12 people detained. The group -youngest at the age of 16 - was reportedly sailing towards Taiwan for asylum.

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