Taiwan door closing for protesters

Local | Angel Kwan 10 Dec 2019

The Mainland Affairs Council in Taiwan has urged Hongkongers not to enter the island illegally after more than 200 young demonstrators have reportedly fled to Taiwan since June.

The council emphasized that it supports Hongkonger's fight for freedom, democracy and human rights, and is concerned about the developments in the SAR. However, Taiwan is a society governed by law and the Taiwan government definitely does not encourage anyone to enter the island through illegal means, the council said yesterday, whilst also urging relevant people to obey the laws of Taiwan.

It added that under Taiwan's laws and regulations regarding Hong Kong and Macau affairs, there are well-established mechanisms that can handle residents from the two SARs seeking help due to political reasons. The government would handle these cases properly according to laws and humanitarian principles, the council said.

The comment came after the New York Times reported that more than 200 young demonstrators have fled to Taiwan since the start of the anti-fugitive bill movement in June, citing lawyers, pastors and other supporters who have helped in their escape.

Lawyers said dozens of protesters have arrived in Taiwan in recent weeks, after getting caught up in sieges at the Chinese and Polytechnic universities.

They were either flown to Taiwan or took boat rides sold by fishermen at US$10,000 (HK$78,000), and stayed in safe houses arranged by sympathizers.

It was also reported that wealthy donors and aid groups are paying for their air tickets; volunteers are ferrying them to and from airports and pastors are fixing smuggling routes for arrested protesters whose passports have been confiscated.

Many of these demonstrators are afraid of being charged with rioting, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, while some are also worried they would be given an unfair judgment in court and fear abuse in detention, citing allegations and rumors of sexual assault and torture.

Others are seeking medical treatment in Taiwan in fear of the arrests that took place in local hospitals. Since the protests started in June, over 6,000 have been arrested and hundreds were charged with rioting.

Meanwhile, despite claiming to support the protest movement earlier, Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party, led by President Tsai Ing-wen, has remained cautious and taken a conservative stance in response to requests of passing asylum laws, in fears of provoking Beijing.

In August, Beijing warned Taiwan against offering asylum to Hong Kong protesters.

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