Hong Kong: Protests Planned After Teen Girl Is Placed in Children’s Home
Hong Kong: Protests Planned After Teen Girl Is Placed in Children’s Home

Edited on Jan. 1, 2015 with update on the girl’s situation.

In Hong Kong, a 14-year-old girl was arrested and placed in a children’s home for drawing graffiti on a famous pro-democracy wall, sparking an outcry on the Internet, a petition, and calls for protests.

The girl was detained by police officers for drawing flowers with chalk on Hong Kong’s “Lennon Wall,” a staircase of a government building in Admiralty that was covered in colorful Post-it notes expressing support for the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement.

Before the Admiralty main protest site was cleared on Dec. 11, protesters removed nearly all of the messages for archiving.

In the early hours of Dec. 23, the teenager was arrested and detained for 17 hours, her solicitor Patricia Ho told AFP. Civic Party member Ken Tsang reported in a Facebook post that more than 20 police officers had surrounded her before making the arrest.

 

“What are police afraid of?” Tsang wrote. During the Umbrella Movement, Tsang became famous after seven plainclothes policemen dragged him to a dark corner and assaulted him.

On Monday, the girl was sent to a children’s home for three weeks while a court considers a police application for a care and protection order.

Protection orders are usually applied in cases of extreme neglect by a child’s parents. Patricia Ho says that while the girl’s father is severely hearing impaired, there is “no evidence to say that she is not well taken care of.”

If the protection order is successfully applied, however, the girl will be separated from her father.

During the court hearing, the girl’s father made an emotional plea, saying that he will go “wherever she goes” to look out for her. The girl said in court that she was “very upset” and fears being sent to the children’s home.

The judge who made the ruling is supposedly known for passing questionable decisions.

Ho, who called the court ruling “shocking” and “disproportionate,” noted that the move is a “worrying trend” and an attempt to impose “a climate of fear.”

About two week ago, Ho represented another 14-year-old who was arrested during the clearing of the Mong Kok protest site on Nov. 25. The boy, who goes home after protesting at night and attends school daily, faces the same fate as the girl even though there is no proof of parental neglect.

Ho said that the Hong Kong government is looking to “make an example” of the boy to deter other minors from joining the pro-democracy protests.

Neither the boy or the girl has been charged since their arrests and the police have not yet commented on both cases.

Public Furor

News of the girl’s plight drew cries of outrage and condemnation on social media.

Some Hongkongers even reportedly changed their profile picture to the teen’s chalk drawing.

Student group Scholarism, whose 18-year-old leader Joshua Wong is one of the most well-known faces of the Umbrella Movement, has started an online petition against the court’s decision. At the time of writing, more than 12,000 people have joined the Facebook page created for the petition.

Another Facebook page, “Protest against unreasonable prisoning 14yrs old girl!“, has been set up to organize a demonstration outside Tuen Mun Children and Juvenile Home on Dec. 31, 12:00 p.m. local time (Dec. 30, 11:00 p.m. Eastern Standard time).

Online newspaper Polymer is also calling for people to surround the Hong Kong police headquarters on the evening of Dec. 31.

It is unclear if the demonstrations for the 14-year-old girl will be well-attended because there are a number of other protests planned for New Year’s eve.

UPDATE:

On Wednesday, Dec 31, the court released the girl from the children’s home on bail following her lawyers appealed for a re-hearing the previous day, public broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong reports.

According to court orders, the teen must stay with her father at his home and attend school. She is also under curfew from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. daily, and has to be accompanied by her father, sister, or a social worker if she leaves home.

The girl will have to attend a court hearing on Jan. 19, when a judgement will be passed on the police application for a protection order.

Legislators Gary Fan and Claudia Mo visited the girl at the children’s home. Mo said that the 14-year-old is “calm and at ease,” and her “spirits and mood are okay,” according to Ming Pao.

Mo adds that the police and the court is trying to make an example of the girl and carrying out a form of “white terror.”

A small crowd also showed up Wednesday at the children’s home to protest the court’s decision. Some of them stuck Post-it notes with supportive messages onto lamp posts outside the children’s home.

Others chalked flowers on the road.

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