US News The failed escape of the "12 from Hong Kong", a nightmare for their families

13:15  23 september  2020
13:15  23 september  2020 Source:   lepoint.fr

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Hoang was so used to sleeping that it was without arousing suspicion that this 16-year-old Hong Kong man made his bag and one evening left the apartment of the family that hosted him. Soon after, he was arrested by the Chinese Coast Guard at sea as he fled to Taiwan.

Hoang is the youngest of the "12 from Hong Kong", as the media call these Hong Kongers who, for having opted for a perilous escape, find themselves, since their boat was intercepted, in the clutches of a Chinese justice. except transparent.

Most were the subject of prosecution in the former British colony for their involvement in the historic mobilization of 2019. And according to some, their current situation foreshadows the unenviable fate that awaits the Hong Kongers, while Beijing continues to strengthen its hold on their city supposed to enjoy a high degree of autonomy.

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Accused of throwing a Molotov cocktail during the 2019 protests, Hoang was charged with attempted arson. AFP has chosen not to disclose his identity.

He had had a complicated relationship with his family for a long time and, while awaiting trial in Hong Kong, he was staying with people who shared his pro-democracy commitment.

"His smell will go away"

"The first time we met, he barely spoke", remembers Diana who offered him lodging for three months and was with him during his last evening in the megalopolis.

"He was difficult to break through because he seemed to want to protect himself and seemed to have difficulties with people he didn't know," she adds, also using a pseudonym.

That evening, she had made him one of his favorite dishes, rice and sashimi, and it was after dinner that, after receiving a call, he did his business.

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She was so used to him going to each other's homes that she didn't worry about seeing him leave on the night of August 22-23.

The next day, for lack of news, Diana was overcome by anguish, like 11 other Hong Kong families.

Wong Wai-yin, a 29-year-old technician, has also not told his relatives about his plan to escape. Prosecuted in Hong Kong for manufacturing explosives, he had not missed any appointment with the justice system.

After his disappearance, his wife and mother went through all of his things, stumbling across a message apologizing for him, in case something happened.

"I haven't washed his pillowcase since he disappeared," Mr. Wong's wife told AFP on condition of anonymity, "I'm so afraid of the day where his scent will disappear. "

Very quickly, rumors circulated, especially on the online forums used by pro-democracy activists.

Swallowed by Chinese justice

Confirmation of their arrest did not fall until August 26, when China announced that 12 Hong Kong people had been arrested for "illegally crossing the border".

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A pro-Beijing newspaper subsequently published the names of the suspects and the heads for whom they are being prosecuted in Hong Kong, before the details of this reckless attempt to escape to Taiwan, an island 700 km away, emerged. - beyond the South China Sea.

As the Chinese repression descended on the former British colony, Taiwan established itself as a possible asylum for Hong Kong people wishing to flee, the island closing its eyes when some presented themselves without them. papers and visas required.

The pandemic has complicated the possibilities of air travel to Taiwan, especially as the Hong Kong justice often confiscates the passports of those charged.

Hence the maritime option.

The first group to be officially arrested, the "Hong Kong 12" fell from Charybdis to Scylla, escaping prosecution at home only to be swallowed up by the very opaque Chinese justice system.

But the former British colony has an independent and respected judicial system, where the rights of the defense are guaranteed and the trials are public.

In China, the conviction of those charged is almost certain. The Chinese authorities took 20 days to confirm that the 12 were detained in Shenzhen, without giving their identity.

In a recent press conference, some family members of the 12 claimed that the Chinese lawyers they had appointed were denied the right to meet the detainees, whom the authorities allegedly flanked by ex officio counsel .

The Hong Kong executive, which is aligned with Beijing, has said it will only request the surrender of the 12 once their lawsuits in China are over.

23/09/2020 09:41:29 - Hong Kong (AFP) - © 2020 AFP

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