The fate of twelve Hong Kongers detained in an unknown location in Shenzhen since August 23 is becoming increasingly worrying. Since Beijing imposed the National Security Law on Hong Kong, the 1is Last July, dozens of young Hong Kong people worried about their safety managed to secretly flee by boat to reach Taiwan. “A clandestine exfiltration network was organized, confides an activist close to this secret network, but there were leaks, and the Chinese tightened their maritime controls. “
This small group of twelve people now imprisoned was intercepted about 70 kilometers from the coast of the semi-autonomous territory of Hong Kong, and handed over to the Shenzhen police.
For China, they are “separatists”
Chinese authorities initially accused the fugitives of crossing the border illegally – which exposes them to prison terms ranging from two to seven years in prison and fines. But Monday, September 14, new charges were pronounced, making them punishable by life imprisonment or the death penalty.
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“They are not democratic activists but elements seeking to separate Hong Kong from China”, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said. Ten of them had been charged in Hong Kong during the summer for “Manufacture or possession of explosives, arson, conspiracy, riot, assault on police officers and possession of offensive weapons”, during demonstrations. Charges that fall under the new national security law.
“It’s the end of Hong Kong’s judicial independence”
“Whatever they did, they did it in Hong Kong and they should be tried in Hong Kong”, protested James To, a pro-democracy Hong Kong lawyer very involved with demonstrators having trouble with the law.
Another lawyer contacted by phone noted that “This first dispute with Chinese justice illustrates that with the new law on national security that China has imposed on us, it is indeed the end of the judicial independence of Hong Kong which in the texts should be preserved”.
“We don’t even know if he’s alive or dead”
The families of six of those detained held a press conference last weekend with their faces covered to express their concern. “We don’t even know if he’s dead or alive”, launched the parents of a youngster. They cannot visit them, and the lawyers they had chosen to assist their children have been refused by the Chinese authorities. Lawyers assigned to them were imposed on them.
Like many NGOs that defend human rights, families are worried to see these twelve Hong Kongers in the hands of a very political Chinese justice, which they do not trust.
“I hope the Hong Kong government can bring them back here”, expressed the mother of a detainee in China. Hope showered on Tuesday, September 15, by Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam, who said Hong Kong would not interfere in Chinese legal proceedings: “They must be treated according to the laws of the continent. “ Arbitrary and opaque laws, conditioned by political issues.