Hong Kong pro-democracy legislator “Bottle” Shiu Ka-chun established Wall-fare, an online community platform where people can voice their concern and show support for the imprisoned Hong Kong activists. Shiu set up the organization in April, and he believes it’s his special calling to help the pro-democracy protesters, he told The Epoch Times.
“Too often, they enlightened me, they lightened me, and encouraged me.” Shiu calls the youth protesters “Shou-zu” in Chinese, which means “hands and feet” who encourage and support each other.
In July this year, Shiu was dismissed as a lecturer in the department of social work of Hong Kong Baptist University without warning. The decision was made after Shiu served nearly six months in prison last year for his role in the 2014 Occupy movement.
At the end of this month, his term as a member of the Legislative Council will expire, and his stay in the Provisional Legislative Council in the next year will be decided by polls. Regardless of what’s ahead, Shiu is determined to continue his work at the Wall-fare. “The issue of prison rights will not end because of the end of my term,” he told The Epoch Times.
In the past four years, Shiu has officially visited 200 imprisoned protesters. He said that about 100 protesters are currently detained or serving their sentences in prison. Before being sentenced, they were detained in seven institutions in Hong Kong, such as Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre, Stanley Prison, Tai Lam Correctional Institution, and Lo Wu Correctional Institution in Sheung Shui.
The youngest protesters Shiu visited in prison were 16 and 17 years old; and the oldest ones were in their 70s, including 74-year-old “brother Sam” who was convicted of rioting in the 2016 Mong Kok incident and was released from prison last month.
Shiu said that 30-40 percent of young protesters have a university degree, the highest being a master’s degree; and some are preparing for the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education. “They are the future of Hong Kong.”
“They are very strong, and they believe that they are sacrificing themselves for the common good. They have no regrets about their struggles.” Shiu said: “The thing that touches me most is that they often ask us not to pay too much attention to them, instead, they ask us to look out for the others.”
Shiu’s father was a blue-collar worker at the Kowloon Motor Bus Company. Being a social worker and coming from a humble background, Shiu is concerned about protesters who live at the bottom of society or encounter difficulties in life. “In fact, many Shou-zu have had their own problems. It’s not like they have solved the problems in life and then joined in social movements. They have many problems in their families, but they carry on with their lives so they can participate in the movements,” he said.
An Inspiration: Activist With Special Needs
Fatzai, who turns 32 this year, has a learning disability. He attended the Occupy movement in 2014 and at present, he’s been to the pro-democracy rallies. After being arrested at one of the protests, he was detained in Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre. Through visits, Shiu learned that he came from a broken family and supports himself with two part-time jobs. One of Fatzai’s jobs as a cleaner caused severe varicose veins on his right calf. “He is usually working nonstop. He doesn’t go home, just sleeps on the street,” Shiu said.
During one visit, Fatzai pulled down his face mask to show Shiu that he lost a row of front teeth after being beaten by the Hong Kong police. Upon seeing this, Shiu couldn’t hold back his tears and began to cry, “He comforted me in turn, telling me not to cry.”
One time, Fatzai went to court with a pair of slippers. Shiu worried that the judge wouldn’t take him seriously and may interpret his actions as expressing contempt for the court. Fatzai explained that he was immediately imprisoned after going to court last time, and everything on his body was confiscated. “He was afraid that his only pair of sneakers would be confiscated, so he could only wear a pair of slippers,” Shiu said.
After Shiu shared Fatzai’s story on Wall-fare’s Facebook page, he received a lot of comments from Hongkongers, willing to donate money to help Fatzai buy a new pair of sneakers. On Sept. 3, Shiu uploaded a photo of Fatzai wearing new shoes. On the same day, Shiu took Fatzai out to eat and they ordered a meal of sirloin rice for HK$56 ($7.20).
During the meal, Fatzai asked Shiu, “Are the shoes too expensive?” Shiu responded, “Don’t worry! It’s not expensive, just make sure you eat enough .. many people wanted to give you a pair of comfortable shoes.”
“He is a very well-behaved child with special needs. He also participates in the protests, and he also faces police violence. This is Shou-zu. Shou-zus are like this. On the one hand, they really want this movement to succeed so Hong Kong will have real democracy. But on the other hand, they suffer a lot, a lot.”
With the support of many social workers and the barrister Linda Wong, Fatzai was released on bail and placed in a hospital. He also received dental care.
“There are many other inspirational stories about Shou-zu,” Shiu said.
The ‘Flying Needle’: Inhumane Practice of Prison Hospitals
Shiu told The Epoch Times about the “flying needle” injection procedure at prison hospitals that some protesters encountered.
A protester, who is also an artist, is currently imprisoned in the maximum-security Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre (SLPC). On Sept. 3, Shiu visited the painter in prison. He learned that the painter received two injections (sedatives) on the evening of Aug. 20.
The injection, dubbed the “flying needle,” contains a tranquilizer. After being injected, the painter became unconscious. Shiu learned that the prison authorities did not follow the normal procedures and performed the injections without a doctor’s order.
“I asked the Chief Director of the Correctional Services Department to explain to me why he [painter] was given two injections in such a short time. Where was the doctor at the time? Did the doctor approve it?” Shiu also wrote to the senior supervisor of SLPC, demanding answers.
Shiu received a response from the institution: “All medicines come with a doctor’s prescription.”
Shiu called on the media and Hong Kong people to pay attention to the painter’s case. He said, “The prison is a very closed environment, and the hospital inside the prison is a more enclosed place.”
Shiu had already heard about the “flying needle” when he was imprisoned for nearly six months after being found guilty of public nuisance during the 2014 Occupy movement. He also believes that Hong Kong prisons often abuse dissidents in the name of medical treatment. “The use of drugs, the use of restraints, the use of solitary confinement—these are all sensitive issues,” he said.
Activists Who Failed to Seek Asylum in Taiwan
Last month, 12 Hong Kong activists tried to flee to Taiwan to seek asylum and were arrested by Chinese coastguards off the coast of southern Guangdong Province. They are currently detained in mainland China. Shiu is concerned about the situation. “There is no news at all. It is very worrisome. How are they now? Are they being tortured? Where are they, in Shenzhen or in the mainland?” He said that these protesters should be repatriated to Hong Kong, but “the Hong Kong government completely treats this matter as if it is handled in a black box, and the Hong Kong government seems to have no role.”
“All these require council members to constantly force the government to answer and force it to respond, otherwise it will become nothing, and these 12 people will disappear from our planet.”
Shiu also called on the media and Hong Kong people to continue to pay attention.
In addition, he also revealed that the protesters arrested under the Hong Kong version of Beijing’s national security law cannot be visited by outsiders.
“They [imprisoned protesters] are called ‘riot boys’ inside the prison, and they will be dealt with separately as much as possible,” Shiu said.
HK Police Arrested 27 Supporters of PolyU Students
On Sept. 2, the Hong Kong police arrested 27 people who supported the students trapped inside Polytechnic University in November last year. Shiu believes that the arrests are meant to create fear and serves as a warning to Hongkongers. “If it would really work with the threat, Hong Kong would not have become like this.”
The 27 protesters, aged between 16 and 37, include 15 students, one teacher, and office workers. Two are underage, according to police. They all face the charge of illegal assembly, with one person also accused of possessing an offensive weapon: a laser pointer.
Shiu’s Wall-fare Facebook page is constantly being updated with the latest news of imprisoned activists. He said, “Thinking of the Shou-zu and the movement, they often shared with me how they face their own weakness and try to stand up again.”
Shiu has also launched a pen pal program. Since late January, there have been more than 400 letters mailed to the jailed protesters. Shiu said that regardless of what’s ahead of him, the Wall-fare project will continue its mission.
“There are things that proceed not because you see hope, but because of the hope that drives the process,” said Shiu.