In search of freedom, they find themselves in prison. Two months ago, on the night of August 23, twelve Hong Kongers between the ages of 16 and 30 fled illegally by boat to reach Taiwan. Tracked or betrayed, they were intercepted by apparently very knowledgeable Chinese coastguards, 70 kilometers off Hong Kong. The dream collapses. Back to earth.
→ READ. The disturbing fate of twelve Hong Kongers imprisoned in China
Arrested and thrown into a prison in the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, bordering the territory, the “Hong Kong 12” – as they are called today – are held incommunicado and completely cut off from the world. They risk life imprisonment.
“Accused of” separatism “, they risk life imprisonment or even the death penalty”
“Our twelve compatriots have been in prison for two months without any legal protection”, revolts a Hong Kong lawyer, engaged with the demonstrators on trial for having mobilized in 2019. Very active, clandestinely, to obtain the slightest information on the fate of the “12 of Hong Kong”, she does not hide her pessimism.
“They were first accused of crossing the border illegally, which already exposed them to seven years in prison,” she explains on an encrypted messaging. But a few weeks later the Chinese authorities reclassified the charges as ‘separatists’… punishable by life or the death penalty ”.
“They will never have the right to a fair trial”
Traumatized by these arrests which intervene after the imposition on July 1 of the freedom-killing law on national security by Beijing, many Hong Kong activists are seeking to put pressure on the government. They want specific details about their conditions of incarceration and their health, but are also seeking lawyers or a visitation permit for their families.
Despite health restrictions banning any demonstration, small civic action groups are holding press conferences or protesting outside the Chinese Liaison Office in Hong Kong. ” Nothing works “, explains our lawyer who had offered to defend their case but in vain. “The Chinese authorities have imposed their own lawyers but everyone knows very well that it is window dressing. They will never have the right to a fair trial ”.
“In China, lawyers are only there to serve the interests of political power”
In a contribution to the digital news agency Hong Kong Free Press, Leo Lan, head of the NGO “China Human Rights Defender”, expressed concern over their fate by denouncing the “Chinese criminal justice system which does not respect the slightest rights of the accused”. In his eyes the situation is catastrophic because “Against the Communist Party, you cannot invoke the rule of law which does not actually exist in China. Lawyers in China are only there to serve the interests of political power ”.
→ ANALYSIS. Taiwan, land of welcome for Hong Kong exiles
Maya Wang of Human Rights Watch in Hong Kong is concerned that “The official Chinese television channel CCTV (not) staging the forced public confessions of the 12 Hong Kong people”. They should then recognize their “Crimes”, perhaps to gain some leniency, but certainly not freedom, serving as an example for all those who dream of illegally leaving Hong Kong.
Faced with Chinese intransigence, an international campaign for the liberation of the “Hong Kong 12” has been launched by Hong Kong activists and its diaspora. Young pro-democracy leader Joshua Wong, 24, this week asked for support from Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, 17. She has just joined the growing group of activists, NGOs and politicians who share “@ save12HKyouths” on social networks in order to draw the attention of the international community to their plight.