Rights Group Urges Beijing to Respect Legal Rights of 12 Hongkongers Detained in China

November 30, 2020 Updated: November 30, 2020

International rights group Amnesty International is calling on Beijing to respect the rights of 12 Hongkongers still detained in Hong Kong, 100 days after they were arrested at sea by the Chinese coast guard.

“The plight of these 12 young people is extremely concerning,” stated Amnesty in a Nov. 30 statement. “They have been deprived of their basic human right to fair trial, including the chance to select their own lawyers, and they are at risk of torture and ill-treatment.”

It added: “Their families have repeatedly been denied access to them, and at least six lawyers have been threatened by the Chinese authorities to make them drop this case.”

The 12 detainees, aged 16 to 33, were arrested on Aug. 23 after they set out from Hong Kong on a boat, allegedly trying to escape to Taiwan and claim political asylum.

On Sept. 30, the prosecutor’s office in Yantian district in southern China’s Shenzhen city, announced that the 12 were formally arrested after being charged with either “suspicion of illegally crossing the border” or “suspicion of organizing others to illegally cross the border.”

Most recently on Nov. 27, the Yantian branch of the Shenzhen municipal police department issued a statement, saying that it completed its investigation of the 12 detainees and would transfer the case to district prosecutors to determine whether to prosecute them.

Amnesty is currently running a petition demanding Chinese authorities to provide the 12 individuals with unrestricted medical care and access to family and family-appointed lawyers, and ensure that they would not be maltreated.

Many Hongkongers have fled to Taiwan since June last year, to avoid prosecution by the Hong Kong government for participating in an ongoing pro-democracy movement. Mass demonstrations were ignited in June last year when millions took to the streets in opposition against a proposed extradition bill, which would have allowed Hong Kong authorities to send people to China for trial. That bill has since been scrapped but protesters have continued to voice other demands, such as universal suffrage in city elections.

British NGO Hong Kong Watch, in a statement responding to Chinese authorities’ Nov. 27 announcement, stated that the 12 Hongkongers “should be returned to Hong Kong to face a fair trial.”

This past weekend in Hong Kong, some citizens gathered at Amah Rock, a popular tourist destination located on a hilltop in Sha Tin district, to voice support for the 12 detainees.

Mr. Chan, one of the locals who initiated the gathering on Nov. 29, told the Hong Kong edition of The Epoch Times, that they wanted to do something to raise awareness about the detainees’ plight. He hopes that they might soon be united with their families in Hong Kong.

Epoch Times Photo
People write on cards prepared by district councilors from the local Kwai Tsing District in Hong Kong on Nov. 30, 2020. (Yu Gang/The Epoch Times)

On Monday afternoon, four pro-democracy district councilors from the city’s Kwai Tsing District set up a booth to raise awareness about the 12 Hongkongers. Many locals showed up at the booth to sign their names and write encouraging messages on booklets and Christmas cards that will be sent to their families.

Follow Frank on Twitter: @HwaiDer