HK Democracy Advocates Detained in China Face Trial Today
At least ten of twelve Hong Kong democracy advocates arrested as they tried to flee the territory by speedboat to Taiwan are to face trial in China on Monday, campaigners and family members said yesterday.
Relatives of ten detainees have been told by Chinese government-appointed lawyers that a hearing is to take place on Monday afternoon at Yantian District People’s Court in Shenzhen, the Save 12 HK Youths campaign said.
Among detainees held by Communist China incommunicado for four months are British, Portuguese and Vietnamese nationals and two of them are underage. Beijing denied them their right to be represented by the lawyers of their own choice and cut contact with their families.
The families asked the foreign diplomats to participate in the trial scheduled at about 2.30 p.m and said that the hearings were not in the official schedule of the court.
The Chinese government has been adamant in preventing all contacts between detainees and their families, the relatives stated in a special letter. The families condemn the Chinese authorities' decisions, they stressed.
Communist China has a history of putting dissidents on trial around the Christmas and New Year period to avoid Western scrutiny. The group — the youngest just 16 — was caught by the Chinese Coast Guard 70km southeast of Hong Kong on Aug. 23, before being transferred to police in Shenzhen. They are accused of charges linked to crossing a border illegally.
The relatives also turned to the international public opinion with a request to urge China to open trial for public and live-streaming, allow press, families, and lawyers commissioned by the families, and to enquire to the Beijing regime for the status and well-being of the twelve Hongkongers.
The democracy advocates — whose arrests were formally approved in September — have since disappeared into China’s opaque judicial system, with family members expressing fear over their fate.
We were informed that Andy would be brought to trial on Monday afternoon,” the family of one of the group, Andy Li, stated on Twitter on Saturday. “As with other politically sensitive cases, obviously they rushed for the Christmas period so as to minimize international backlash.
Eight of the group are accused of an illegal border crossing, while two are suspected of organizing for others to cross the border.
Two minors face non-public hearings.
Some of those aboard the boat already faced prosecution in Hong Kong for activities linked to last year’s huge and often violent pro-democracy protests.
Chinese lawyers appointed by some of the fugitives’ families said that they have been barred from seeing their clients, after authorities stepped in to appoint state-approved lawyers.
Beijing in June imposed a new National Security Law on Hong Kong, announcing it would have jurisdiction for some crimes and that its security agents could openly operate in the territory.