The fishy tale of 12 Hong Kong activists arrested at sea by China
Updated: Oct 24, 2020
PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE THIS CHANGE.ORG PETITION: Global Petition: Immediate Return of the 12 HK Detainees from Mainland China 要求中共送返12名被捕港人
The most joyful / saddest part about Hong Kong (HK) protests is that no matter what happens, the vast majority of HK protesters and activists will continue to non-violently and peacefully express their political opinions: HK protesters uphold HK's Joint Declaration!
HK activists' only 'crime' (as defined by the CCP and HK government) is political in nature and stems from a deep sense of unity and responsibility to support HK people in their struggle for democracy and human rights as guaranteed in HK's Joint Declaration. Their words and actions are what changes and helps HK as a community to grow. UN special rapporteurs have commented at length on this (please see links below).
HK protesters support the 5 demands which includes an independent Commission of Inquiry into the HK Police and amnesty for all HK protesters with all charges and convictions being dropped. For the first time ever, with the support of HK protesters and their 5 demands, pro-democratic District Councillors in elections on 24 November 2019 won an overwhelming majority of 85% of seats and 17 of 18 districts; these are the only elections in HK which meet UN obligations for universal and equal suffrage.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as a triad organization does everything they can to oppress and control the world! It is high time for the CCP and their minions, the HK government and elites, to shape up to their international obligations under the rule of law or ship out!
For more information on HK protests please read the views of United Nations (UN) special rapporteurs: Mandates of the UN Special Rapporteur 28 June 2019 and Mandates of the UN special rapporteurs 29 January 2020 on HK Police tear gas, rights & freedoms and Mandates of the UN special rapporteurs 19 February 2020 on arrests of HK medics during protests and UN special rapporteurs on HK's National Security Law of 1 September 2020.
CRITICAL QUESTIONS FOR HK GOVERNMENT AND CCP CONCERNING THE HK 12
Question 1. Where are they? are they OK? Have their lawyers and families met them?
This is starting to sound like a lot like a rerun of the sordid tale of the 5 missing Causeway Bay Hong Kong booksellers!
What has happened to the 12 missing HK protesters who, it appears, did not legally exit HK's territory and which we can only presume are now in a prison somewhere in China awaiting thier inevitable fate of a harsh jail term and then deportation and more sentence in prison in HK.
So far HK Chief Executive (CE) Carrie Lam, true to her form, has revealed nothing at all about these missing 12 HK activists. She and the HK police are unwilling to reassure HK families and the HK community at large of their whereabouts, well-being, charges they face and their access to their choice of legal representation in Court.
Question 2. Is the HK government in a position to deny that the 12 were apprehended in HK territorial waters and therefore had not illegally crossed any border? How much does the HK Marine Police know?
International news media outlet Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported on 27 August 2020 that the 12 were apprehended in a "speedboat" off HK's Eastern outlying islands the Ninepins which is just offshore from Sai Kung, deep inside HK territorial waters (please see below).
If this is true, this could only mean that HK Marine Police apprehended them because Chinese Coast Guard vessels are not normally permitted to be inside HK territorial waters!
Note the position of 21°54'00''N, 114°53'00''E given by the Chinese Coast Guard is roughly to the North East of HK territorial waters and is nowhere near the Ninepins.
Q 3. What type of vessel were they onboard? Were any crew members also apprehended and charged?
The official story is that these HK protesters were making the journey as stowaways onboard a "speedboat" from HK to Taiwan and were caught in Chinese waters by China's Coast Guard.
It is far more likely that HK protesters would be carried by slower ocean going vessels sailing discretely further out to sea than on speedboats in local coastal waters. Likely, they would be first taken onboard a speedboat in HK waters and then ferried to a larger ocean going vessel.
Roughly the distance between HK and Taiwan is 800 kms, 500 miles, 440 nautical miles: which means even a very fast speedboat in mild sea conditions would take a minimum of 24 hours non-stop. Chinese coastal waters are full of fishing nets, Coast Guard patrols, etc. and a large speedboat at speed would attract 'unwanted' attention for sure!
Speedboats do exist for such a dangerous offshore journey in mild sea conditions but it is unlikely that a high speed speedboat capable of outrunning the Chinese Coast Guard carrying at least 12 passengers and at least 2 crew could have originated from HK. Since the heady days of smuggling between HK and China in the late 1980's, the HK owned 'da fei' - the largest ocean going fiberglass speedboats measuring up to 12 meters in length capable of carrying at least 14 people with 5 outboard engines (1,000hp+) - can no longer be registered in HK. These are the same hulls that today are used by Chinese fishermen, smugglers and Coast Guard - so likely if a speedboat was used it was a mainland Chinese speedboat.
We know that this sea escape route exists for HK protesters - as it has for centuries - and has been used by a number HK protesters to escape the inevitable harsh prison sentences handed down by the draconian colonial era HK Justice Department charge of "rioting" for which HK protesters could face up to 10 years incarcerated. To date, about 670 HK protesters have been charged with rioting!
Critical think allows us to recognize that there must have been crew members onboard the "speedboat" - so why has there been no mention of the crew's arrest for human trafficking?
Tanka, the Chinese indigenous sea people, are normally involved in all things connected with the sea and boats.
Since in HK the police and triads are tied together at the hip, it is highly likely that the RFA triad link mentioned to arrange this trip could have also tipped off the HK Police and / or the mainland Chinese authorities. If no crew member has been charged and no vessel seized then most likely this was a double cross by the triads and their contacts in the Chinese authorities.
This being the case it is an unnerving twist of fate for the HK 12 that they were sold out by both the HK triads and the HK police. The event has only served to further CCP's oppression of HK protesters.
[Update] Q4. The Eastern most territorial border in Mirs Bay that HK has with China is to the high water mark on the China side. All vessels in Mirs Bay are therefore always in HK waters including those of the Chinese government. Sometimes HKers witness Chinese government vessels in Mirs Bay including their fast multi-engine patrol boats. Were there any Chinese government vessels in HK waters in Mirs Bay during the period of 22 - 25 August 2020? Where were HK Marine Police patrols in Mirs Bay during the same period?
Chinese Coast Guard Seizes Boat, Arrests 12 Hong Kong Protesters
RFA 27 August 2020. Reported by Lu Xi, Man Hoi-tsan, Gigi Lee and Hwang Chun-mei for RFA's Mandarin and Cantonese Services. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.
Authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong have detained more than 10 people believed to be Hong Kong activists fleeing to the democratic island of Taiwan amid a national security crackdown in their home city.
"At about 9.00 a.m. on Aug. 23, the Guangdong Coast Guard was in Chinese waters southeast of Guangdong and Hong Kong (21°54'00''N, 114°53'00''E)," the China Coast Guard said via its official account on Weibo.
"A speedboat was apprehended, along with more than 10 people suspected of illegally crossing a national border," it said. "Investigations into the case are ongoing."
Sources told RFA that the boat, which was stopped by the authorities near Ninepin Islands, had been carrying 12 Hong Kong activists to Taiwan.
Among those detained was Andy Li, a member of the pro-democracy group Hong Kong Story, who was released on bail after being arrested by Hong Kong police on Aug. 10.
The Dimsum Daily, a Hong Kong online news outlet, reported that Li and the remaining 11 people, including suspects in the Wan Chai petrol bomb case and the Wah Yan College homemade bomb case, took a speedboat arranged by a local triad and departed from Po Toi O in Sai Kung, Hong Kong.
They were intercepted by the Chinese maritime police in the Ninepin Islands. It is understood that they intend to apply for political asylum in Taiwan, Dimsum reported. They took a speedboat arranged with the help of a local triad criminal gang, leaving from Po Toi O in the seaside town of Sai Kung. Sources said they had planned to apply for political asylum on the democratic island of Taiwan. Chinese law would enable the arrestees to be jailed for a fixed term of one year on immigration offenses before being deported to Hong Kong. The arrestees are currently in the custody of the China Coast Guard, and the Chinese police are investigating.
Others fled earlier Hong Kong's Ming Pao newspaper reported on Aug. 11 that some protesters involved with last year's demonstrators have already fled Hong Kong. An official who answered the phone at the Guangzhou headquarters of the China Coast Guard, which is under the aegis of the People's Armed Police, declined to comment when contacted by RFA on Thursday, saying they knew nothing of the case. Hong Kong police commissioner Chris Tang said the city's police were "actively asking about any relevant information" from the Chinese authorities, but said he was unable to comment further. "For the time being, we do not have any facts about the allegations, so I’m not in a position to comment," Tang said. Chiu Chui-cheng, spokesman for Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said that, while the island's government has offered an immigration pathway to Hongkongers fleeing oppression, the authorities don't encourage anyone to enter Taiwan illegally. "We will pursue criminal prosecutions against anyone entering Taiwan illegally, and against anyone helping them," Chiu told reporters. "There is also a huge safety risk attached to doing this, so the government absolutely does not encourage this." "We call on people to respect Taiwan's laws," he said.
Incalculable risks Hong Kong barrister Lawrence Lau said the risks taken by people trying to cross the border illegally were "incalculable," but that Hongkongers are now being driven to try it by a rapidly deteriorating situation at home. "In recent decades, it has mostly been mainland Chinese or residents of Southeast Asia who have crossed borders illegally," he said. "But now Hong Kong has gotten to the point where it's impossible to just carry on living a peaceful existence here." "The risks of smuggling yourself across a border are endless," Lau told RFA. "If the smuggling operation, run by snakeheads, goes badly, it can turn into a nightmare." "And the authorities can deploy this weapon, this national security law, with stunning ferocity," he said. "The scale and frequency of raids of this kind will only increase in future." In an interview with RFA in April, Li said Hong Kong Story -- which has built extensive links to overseas parliamentarians in a bid to bolster international support for the protest movement -- had been campaigning for "real freedom" in Hong Kong. Protesters call this strategy the "international front," and have used it to lobby for sanctions on officials behind police violence and human rights violations since protests first escalated in June 2019. "What we are striving for is real freedom, human rights, and justice for the people of Hong Kong," Li said. "The international front is a gift to Hong Kong, a way for Hong Kong people to take control of their own lives and their own freedom."
[Update] Hongkongers detained in Shenzhen will learn their fate in 16 days: lawyer
Apple Daily 15 September 2020.
The fate of the 12 Hongkongers detained in Shenzhen following a foiled attempt to flee to Taiwan will become clearer in just over two weeks' time, according to a mainland Chinese lawyer appointed by one of the detainees' families.
Suspects could only be detained for 37 days without being formally arrested, Lu Siwei told the Apple Daily. The detention period would end on Oct. 1 and the 12 Hongkongers might be allowed to walk free, Lu said.
However, they could also be arrested and continue to be detained, he said, adding that it would also mean a high probability of conviction.
In mainland China, police can detain suspects for up to 37 days before the arrest is approved by a prosecutor. The country reported a conviction rate of 99.9% in 2014.
Lu’s client is one of the 12 Hongkongers stopped by China’s coast guards en route to Taiwan as they fled the city in a speedboat, fearing political persecution. Lu and other lawyers have not been able to see their clients, who have been detained in a center in Yantian for 24 days as of Tuesday.
A point of contention in the case was whether the coastal guards who intercepted the detainees' boat had legal justifications to hand the case over to the Shenzhen police bureau, Lu said. The law was unclear and one way to avoid the grey area was for the Shenzhen police to transfer the detainees back to Hong Kong, he added.
The route of the boat will be another important element in the case, according to Lu. It was unclear whether the boat was stopped in Chinese waters or its contiguous [Hong Kong] zone, Lu explained. There would be different implications if the boat was found to have entered Chinese waters or if it was only travelling in its territorial [Hong Kong] waters, he said.
Lu said it was unlikely that the 12 would face national security charges for the foiled escape, although China’s spokesperson Hua Chunying had labelled them as separatists. The Shenzhen police bureau did not have the power to investigate crimes set out in Hong Kong’s national security law or those committed in the semi-autonomous city, he explained.
Lawyers appointed by the detainees' families have been told that the Hongkongers have hired their own representatives in the detention center. At least five lawyers have been pressured by authorities to drop the case.
Click here for Chinese version
One month ago on 23 August, Twelve Hong Kongers were arrested on a speedboat reportedly intercepted by Guangdong coastguard some 70km to the southeast of Hong Kong. Let's review what has and hasn't happened.
[Update] Reddit 23 September 2020.
One month ago on 23 August, 12 Hong Kongers were arrested on a speedboat reportedly intercepted by Guangdong coastguard some 70km to the southeast of HK.
In this thread, let's review what has not happened and what has:
Families and lawyers hired by them have not been allowed to meet any of the 12 in person, who, according to mainland authorities, have been detained in Yantian Detention Centre since at last 25 August.
Today, 4 lawyers hired by families of 4 detainees went to the detention centre and demanded meeting but in vain. 3 of the 4 lawyers were told their clients had each got “two other lawyers”. Previously in an exclusive interview with TVB, HK's security minister John Lee said each of the 12 had got 2 lawyers from a list provided by the mainland authorities. Till today, HK government has not given the 12 families the lawyers list that Lee promised to obtain in the interview.
At least 6 lawyers hired by the families were forced to drop their clients under warnings from justice bureau officials and even national security agents. At least one lawyer who insisted to visit his client, has been followed and watched nearly around the clock by state agents. Lawyers were threatened with termination of their licenses and warned not to talk to journalists.
John Lee has also made it clear in his interview that HK government has not right to visit the 12 so no officer from the city can see the detainees in person. So far the immigration officers have been doing is mainly relaying requests from families to the mainland authorities with no guarantee of any response or realisation the mainland officer whose mobile number is left on the official notification of detention to the families has become impatient and unresponsive, I was told by members of a family who have been calling since the day they got the paper.
The next 7 days will be vital according to one of the lawyers on the case Lu Siwei. Under mainland's rules, the police are bound to seek approval of their arrest with 30 days since onset of criminal detention and the prosecutors have 7 days to give a reply. Around 1 Oct, China's national day, the approval, if there is on[e], is set to be given and announced. Once the approval is given, the case will go deeper into mainland's justice system and conviction is highly possible if not guaranteed.
So far no consular visit has been known to make despite foreign passports holders among the 12. Expression of concern by Pompeo has triggered China's MOFA spokeswoman Hua Chunying to label the 12 “separatists” - a felony that can lead to extreme penalty if convicted under mainland's national security law.
HK government has been insisting that they won't request the 12 to be sent back to HK until the 12 finished their legal procedures in mainland. That was not always the case. HK used to request send-back of robbers who fled across the border after swiping a jewelry shop. And if some or all of the 12 are unfortunately sentenced to extreme penalties, will HK government ever get them back?
The allegation of "illegal border crossing" can be an embarrassing dilemma. So far, neither authorities in mainland nor HK acknowledged the 12 were heading to Taiwan when they were caught it was reported by RFA and pro-Beijing Wen Wei Po. As lawyer Lu Siwei succinctly pointed out in an earlier legal opinion, the offence of crossing the border between HK and mainland per se can form a "weird circle" as HK has been part of China since 1 July 1997. And if the crossing without due procedures must be punished, it should follow an administrative regulation on the permits for HK/Macau residents to enter mainland, instead of a criminal offence. To take it further, how to justify the crossing of border between mainland and Taiwan a criminal act under Beijing's version of “One China Principle”? In that sense, this can be yet another case revealing the intriguing nature of Beijing, Hong Kong, Taiwan relations.
More than a dozen of human rights lawyers in mainland China have been bearing mounting pressure and paying extra efforts even though they always knew it rather clearly that their trips to Yantian would be fruitless. The difficulties to find lawyers for the 12 reflect the cruel aftermath of rounds of crackdown on human rights lawyers since what happened to the 709 Crackdown. The many thank-you and support expressed by HK people concerning the case, including a localist activist leading the campaign for the 12, remark a re-connection of HK society with the highly suppressed civil/ activist circle across the border, which in previous years, was largely abandoned under deteriorating HK-mainland relation.
Worse than being prosecuted and tried, in the following months, the 12 may be placed under “residential surveillance at a designated location,” which can last for an unlimited period of time. With little if not zero information exchange during that period, attention in HK and international community can be easily exhausted, which can expose the 12 to more unscrupulous treatments.
[Update] Police refuse to release radar records for arrest of Hong Kong 12 at sea
Apple Daily 28 September 2020.
Hong Kong police said China’s coast guard did not cross into the city’s jurisdiction during the arrest of 12 Hongkongers in August, but refused a lawmaker’s request to disclose radar records.
No coast guard vessels from mainland China entered or stayed in Hong Kong waters on the morning of Aug. 23, the Hong Kong police wrote in a letter to pro-democracy lawmaker Eddie Chu. The police also said they received no relevant reports on that day.
The 12 Hongkongers boarded a speedboat bound for Taiwan on Aug. 23, but were arrested by mainland Chinese authorities for crossing the boundary illegally. They have been detained in the Yantian District Detention Center in Shenzhen for over a month.
Chu earlier cast doubt on the location and circumstances of the arrest, citing a witness who claimed that the coast guard made the arrest in Hong Kong waters, at “One Foot Row” southeast of Ninepin Islands.
In their response to Chu’s request for information, Hong Kong police described the lawmaker’s theories as “speculation.” The police offered no explanation for keeping their radar records private, only saying the data had been reviewed by the Marine Regional Command and Control Centre.
“[The police] don’t disclose information when I ask, and instead say I am ‘speculating,’” Chu wrote on Facebook on Sunday. “They are colluding with the unlawful detention by Chinese authorities, Hongkongers will not be fooled.”
China’s coast guard previously said that the 12 were arrested in Chinese waters at 21°54′00′' north latitude and 114°53′00′' east longitude.
Chu conducted a field trip to the Ninepin Islands on Friday, and argued that it was possible that the Chinese coast guard intercepted the speedboat within Hong Kong waters, then escorted it out of the city’s jurisdiction before making the arrest.
Hong Kong police were able to provide a “definitive account” of the speedboat’s journey, meaning they might have given Chinese authorities information so that the 12 would be arrested in Chinese waters, Chu said.
Hong Kong and Chinese authorities are hoping to legitimize the long-term detention of the 12 by accusing them of “organizing cross-border crimes,” Chu added.
The Hong Kong 12 are the first group of demonstrators from the city detained by mainland Chinese authorities since the imposition by Beijing of the national security law on June 30. Their case is awaiting formal arrest approval by the Yantian People’s Procuratorate in Shenzhen.
Click here for Chinese version
Important Note: Legislators Eddie Chu Hoi-dick and Ray Chan have resigned from Legco.
RTHK 28 September 2020 'Chu Hoi-dick and Ray Chan prepare to leave Legco'
[Update] Chinese Lawyer raised 7 legal points questioning Chinese Authorities
Twitter 28 September 2020.
Chinese Lawyer Lu Siwei made these seven compelling points on how arbitary and unlawful CCP is detaining our 12 Hong Kongers:
Had the speedboat ever entered Chinese waters, or was it just sailing in nearby waters out of China's jurisdiction?
Legally, the China Coast Guard should not have handed the 12 detainees to Shenzhen Yantian Police.
Chinese authorities could have extradited the detainees to Hong Kong on a case by case basis per usual practice.
Technically, Hong Kong is a part of China, merely crossing borders without official documents is not a crime.
National Security Law
This case does not warrant invoking the National Security Law, investigating the detainees actions in HK should not be carried out by the Chinese Police.
Rights to defence and be informed
Families have the right to hire attorneys of their choice to visit and find out about the detainees' status and health.
Acording to Chinese laws, suspects can be detained for up to 37 days. October 1 is the key date to decide on wether to grant bail, release or officially arrest them.
Jerome A. Cohen 1 October 2020
Here is the SCMP’s rapid reporting on the case of the Hong Kong 12. Mainland Chinese authorities have accused them of illegal border crossing and organizing crime. This is just the closing of the first phase of the long criminal process that lies ahead. We now know at least a few things about the case.
The “HK 12” were apparently not subjected to “residential surveillance at a designated location” on suspicion of national security violations. That could have kept them in incommunicado detention for up to six months before the regular criminal process began. Indeed, as the charge approved by the procuracy confirms, they are not being charged with national security violations under either PRC national law or the new NSL for HK, as some had speculated they might be and as a Wolf Warrior of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs seemed to suggest would be appropriate. That would have raised legal complexities of a controversial nature as well as international political temperatures.
Instead, the case seems en route to being treated as a regular criminal case of illegal border crossing, a crime, to be sure, but not ordinarily a major one. Of course, after up to seven more months or so of police investigation, the police, when they seek the procuracy’s approval of indictments, may decide to change the charges to harsher offenses or add further offenses to the current charge of illegal entry. The procuracy might or might not agree or may, on its own volition, change or add to the charges. But it is unlikely that this will happen, especially since the local Party political-legal committee, under central Party guidance, has undoubtedly arranged matters between police and procurators (prosecutors) so far as the evidence has been revealed.
At this stage, it is likely that ten of the twelve will receive one-year sentences after conviction by the local district or even intermediate court, with the sentence running from the date of detention. That sentence can be suspended or reduced, however, depending on a variety of circumstances including the extent of the defendant’s confession, contrition and cooperation with the investigation as well as the defendant’s health and willingness to forego an appeal.
The two accused of organizing may well draw three-year sentences and possibly longer ones, although, again, much depends on their post-detention behavior and physical and mental condition. The most immediate challenge for the PRC is how to deal with the embarrassment created by the denial of access to defense lawyers chosen by the families of the suspects. Further steps may be taken to silence the lawyers chosen by the families. Those can range from detaining the would-be lawyers, threatening them with disbarment and closing of their law firms as well as harm to their families etc. The authorities will surely attempt to deny the would-be lawyers further access to the families and the media. The Party may decide to have the lawyers chosen by the police put on a show designed to create a more favorable impression than usual. Possibly the families may be allowed a visit or a representative of the HK government might even be permitted to visit, but the latter seems unlikely. Too many departures from the usual practice might be seen as setting unfavorable precedents for future cases and not establishing sufficient deterrent against future offenses of this type.
At this point there is not much that any defense lawyer can accomplish in a case of this nature except to perhaps reduce the likelihood of any further torture and coerced confessions by meeting with and observing the suspect, if only in the circumscribed circumstances allowed. Eventually, if permitted, defense lawyers might prove helpful at whatever type of “trial” is allowed, and this will be another challenge for the Party.
Exclusive: Hong Kong aircraft stalked Taiwan-12 speedboat before mainland capture
Apple Daily 6 October 2020. Reported by Gigi Lee and Tseng Yat-yiu for RFA's Mandarin and Cantonese Services. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.
A Hong Kong government aircraft was apparently monitoring the speedboat in which 12 Hongkongers were arrested while trying to flee to Taiwan in August, an investigation by Apple Daily has found.
This finding seems to contradict the Hong Kong government’s earlier claim that it did not know about the arrest by mainland officers until five days after the event.
The 12 Hongkongers have been held in Shenzhen’s Yantian detention center since they were captured by the Guangdong coast guard on Aug. 23. Hong Kong police earlier dismissed suggestions that the force had handed over information about the speedboat’s escape to mainland authorities, and claimed they only learned about the arrest on Aug. 28, when notified by mainland authorities.
Apple Daily tracked the movements of a Government Flying Service aircraft, which suggests that a Hong Kong surveillance operation monitored the speedboat from the time it left Sai Kung’s Po Toi O until shortly before its capture by mainland officers.
Apple Daily’s investigation used the FlightAware application, which tracks flights around the globe. It charted the flight of the fixed-wing B-LVB aircraft from its take-off from Hong Kong International Airport at 4:19 a.m. on Aug. 23.
Between then and the time when the speedboat set off for Taiwan, at 7 a.m., the plane patrolled the waters off Sai Kung, Tung Lung Chau and the Ninepin Group islands, at altitudes from 1,000 to 2,000 meters.
At the time the speedboat entered mainland waters, the aircraft descended to 1,000 meters and moved southeast in the same direction as the speedboat, FlightAware data showed.
According to Hong Kong police on Aug. 26, marine police radar showed the speedboat leaving Hong Kong waters shortly after 8 a.m., heading southeast. The aircraft also left Hong Kong waters around the same time, traveling as far as 28 kilometers from the spot where the speedboat would soon be intercepted by Guangdong coastguard, according to FlightAware.
The Hong Kong aircraft turned back to the airport at around 8:15 a.m. Shortly after 9 a.m., the Guangdong coast guard intercepted the speedboat and captured the 12 Hongkongers.
Pro-democracy lawmakers said the FlightAware data seems to show the government plane was deliberately monitoring the speedboat rather than making a routine patrol.
James To of the Democratic Party, a former deputy chairperson of the Legislative Council’s security panel, said such airplanes are usually deployed to search for specific targets rather than for regular patrols.
Opposition Civic Party legislator Jeremy Tam, a former airline pilot, said the government aircraft’s route matched the speedboat’s movements so closely that it seemed to be monitoring its progress.
The Government Flying Service Department on Monday refused to divulge the aircraft’s objective, and said it had no further information about the 12 Hongkongers.
Apple Daily is still awaiting replies to its enquiries with the Security Bureau and police.
Shenzhen authorities last week said they had formally arrested the 12 for organizing or making illegal border crossings. Their families and lawyers have been barred from meeting them so far.
Click here for Chinese version
Hong Kong Government Denies Involvement in Capture of Fleeing Activists
RFA 6 October 2020.
The Hong Kong government on Tuesday denied any involvement in the interception of a group of activists who tried to flee to the democratic island of Taiwan, as details emerged of the movements of two of its aircraft on the day of their arrest by the China Coast Guard. Twelve Hongkongers aged 16 to 33 are being held in Yantian Detention Center in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen on suspicion of "illegally crossing a border," after the Chinese authorities intercepted their speedboat on its way to Taiwan on Aug. 23. Their relatives say noneof them has yet been allowed to see lawyers appointed by their families to defend them, and that there has been scant assistance from the Hong Kong government. "I will not comment on the actual operational details except to reinforce what the police have said, which is that the police have absolutely no role to play in this particular case," chief executive Carrie Lam told a news conference on Tuesday. Lam was responding to a query from a journalist on a news report from the Apple Daily, which showed that two government aircraft had been tracking a vessel in the vicinity at the time of the incident. Data obtained from the flight tracking website FlightAware showed that two Hong Kong government aircraft, the fixed-wing plane B-LVB and and the H175 Cheetah helicopter B-LVH, flew around, and to and from the area where the activists were arrested on the morning of Aug. 23. Flight records undercut claims
Hong Kong police chief Chris Tang had earlier claimed that neither police nor government officials had any knowledge of the incident as it was occurring, and that they hadn't been able to confirm the detention of the activists until they received a reply from the Guangdong police department on Sept. 25. The Guangdong Coast Guard said in that reply that they had seized a speedboat suspected of "illegally crossing the border" in waters under its jurisdiction (21°54'00''N, 114°53'00''E) at around 9:00 a.m. on Aug. 23, and said the case was within mainland China's jurisdiction. However, no radar data was released to back up this claim. The Hong Kong government fixed-wing aircraft's flight record showed that it left Hong Kong waters shortly after 8.00 a.m., and circled the area for 30 minutes, arriving at 22°11'96'N, 114° 75'28'E at 8.14 a.m., close to the position reported by the Guangdong Coast Guard. It returned to Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok International Airport at 8.36 a.m. Shortly afterwards, at 9.25 a.m., the Cheetah transport helicopter B-LVB took off and flew in the direction of the speedboat's position, but disappeared from radar, before reappearing half an hour later near where the speedboat was intercepted and flying back to Chek Lap Kok, according to the flight tracking data. Legislative Councilor and former pilot Tam Man-ho said the flight path information showed that the fixed-wing aircraft was flying in a circle towards the southeast, indicating that it was tracking a specific vessel, "because the fixed-wing aircraft was flying faster than the vessel, so it was necessary to track it in a circle." "What they have been saying isn't true," Tam said. "The police claimed they had no knowledge of the incident, but you can see the flight path and time of the plane, which is very consistent with the 12 Hong Kong people's case." "The plane was circling for two to three hours, which makes people wonder if they were monitoring the speedboat, and also whether this was being done at the request of the mainland Chinese authorities," he said. "We need to know which government department requested this operation," Tam added. Protest application rejected
RFA requested radar, video and Automatic Vessel Identification System (AVIS) data from the Hong Kong Marine Department on Sept. 28 for the area around Ninepin Islands but was refused, saying that no reports of suspicious vessels had been received on that day. Sources said the Marine Department is only tasked with ensuring the safety of marine traffic, while the task of tracking and detecting suspicious vessels is mainly handled by Hong Kong's Marine Police, which has more sophisticated detection apparatus. According to the Hong Kong Shipping and Port Control Regulations, any vessel leaving Hong Kong waters must apply for a Certificate of Departure. The master of the vessel is required to provide the Vessel Traffic Monitoring Center with the name of the vessel, the call signal, the current position, the port for which it is bound, not less than 15 minutes before it sails. The government denial comes after Hong Kong police on Friday turned down an application by march organizers the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) to hold a march on Oct. 1, China's National Day in support of the 12 detainees, who police say are wanted in Hong Kong on a number of protest-related charges. Hong Kong police have arrested thousands of people in connection with protests that swept the city throughout most of last year, on charges that rights groups and overseas officials have said undermine the city's traditional freedoms of expression and association, guaranteed by China under the terms of the 1997 handover. Hundreds more have been arrested since July 1, when the ruling Chinese Communist Party imposed a draconian national security law on Hong Kong outlawing words and deeds deemed by the authorities to constitute separatism, subversion or terrorism, or collusion with a foreign power. In August, the United States announced sanctions against Hong Kong leader Lam and senior Chinese and Hong Kong officials for their role in curbing the city's promised freedoms, and in implementing the national security regime, which has seen China's feared state security police set up a headquarters in the city.
Flying service labels mission on Hong Kong 12 as ‘police operation’
Apple Daily 9 October 2020.
Hong Kong’s aerial search and rescue agency allegedly classified a recent mission to track down 12 Hongkongers trying to flee the city on a speedboat as a “police operation,” contradicting official denials that local law enforcement bodies knew about their escape plot.
The Government Flying Service labeled the operation as “P-OPS,” an abbreviation of “police operation,” pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong told reporters on Thursday, citing sources. He also publicized a list of crew members purportedly involved in the operation.
Some family relatives of the 12 detainees, who were at the same press conference, said the police were no longer trustworthy and that the local government, in particular Chief Executive Carrie Lam, had been betraying them.
Wong’s revelation built on a report by Apple Daily on Monday that on Aug. 23, two government planes were monitoring the speedboat from the time it left Sai Kung’s Po Toi O pier at around 7 a.m. until shortly before it was intercepted by Guangdong coast guard at about 9 a.m.
The ongoing fact-finding efforts by Apple Daily and Wong run counter to the official accounts. Lam earlier denied the police force had anything to do with the case, and on Tuesday she denounced the Apple Daily reporting as “fabrication” intended to smear her government.
The police also claimed that they came to know about the marine arrests only after receiving alerts from their mainland counterpart. They dismissed suggestions of having handed over information about the group’s escape to mainland authorities.
Meanwhile, the group of 12 have been formally arrested and are remanded in Shenzhen’s Yantian District Detention Center.
On Thursday, one of the affected family members said that she was finally able to reach a contact in the Shenzhen police, surnamed Zhuang, but he declined to reveal details of the case over the phone as he could not verify the identity of the caller. Zhuang would say only that the imprisoned group was in good condition and cut the line without elaboration, the family member added.
Click here for Chinese version.
New perspectives on HKers alleged 8.23 illegal border crossing | Lu Siwei
Apple Daily 14 October 2020.
On Sep. 30, 2020, the Shenzhen City’s Yantian District Procuratorate approved the arrest of all 12 Hong Kong residents, which included 2 minors, on suspicion of organizing illegal border crossing, and 10 persons on suspicion of illegal crossing of the border. The Hong Kong police passed the Arrest Notice to the families the same night. With the differences in mainland and Hong Kong legal systems, many of the families were extremely concerned about the consequences and development of the arrests. To address some of these concerns, the author is hereby offering a few new perspectives.
1. Case’s direction and time limit
First, Yantian Procuratorate’s approval of the arrest means that there is sufficient evidence to show that the 12 Hong Kong residents constituted a crime and may be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment. The procuratorate believes that there is a need for continued custody, and therefore has not released bail pending trial. Of course, the procuratorate’s stance does not mean that the 12 will for sure be convicted, because the power to convict lies in the courts. However, judging from the low innocence rate in the mainland, these 12 cases do not look optimistic.
The family is concerned about whether the case will have a result. According to the mainland’s Criminal Procedure Law, the investigation and detention period for this case is two months, which means that the public security department will transfer the case over to the procuratorate for review and prosecution before Nov. 30, 2020. Many wonder if the investigation period will be extended, I do not believe so for three reasons: 1) this case is clear and simple, and I believe that public security has already finished investigating, but are still verifying some evidence to be cautious, then the investigation should be completed soon. 2) this case does not have the circumstances stipulated in Articles 158 and 159 of the Criminal Procedure Law, let alone those in Article 160. Therefore, there is no legal basis for extended detention. 3) as the case has attracted worldwide attention, Shenzhen’s judicial organs should close the case as soon as they can to show the international community and Hong Kong public its judicial transparency and efficiency.
As such, the case could be transferred within two months for procuratorate review and prosecution. The one-month limit for the procuratorate’s review and prosecution is one month, and could be extended for another two weeks before deciding whether to initiate a public prosecution. If the procuratorate initiates a public prosecution to the court, the court will hold a trial and the trial period is two months. Therefore, from the perspective of the statutory deadlines for the three stages of comprehensive criminal proceedings, an optimistic estimation is that this case will be completed between New Year’s Day and Chinese New Year.
An important thing to note is the two minors in the case. I boldly speculate that regardless of whether these 12 Hong Kong residents have committed a crime, these two minors may not be prosecuted in the end, with the reason being that according to the Criminal Procedure Law and the provisions stipulated in chapter six, the crime of crossing the border of the country, the procuratorate can conditionally not prosecute minors. This is not only in line with domestic law, but also that of international conventions.
2. Rectification of the right of defense
The case started as a very ordinary criminal case, but the defenders hired by the families all encountered a difficult problem – Yantian District Detention Center claimed that the suspects have appointed two defenders on their own, and have therefore refused the ones from the families. We know that the right to defense is one of the most important rights throughout the entire criminal proceedings. If the right to defense is restricted or even deprived, then the case would not only fail the test of the law, but also the examination of history, and will lead to very serious consequences. We hereby call on the Shenzhen judicial organ to choose between the easy way out by excluding defenders, and restoring the public’s confidence in the rule of law. We ask the Shenzhen judiciary to think twice before acting.
The defenders are highly skeptical of the detention center’s claim that the suspects have appointed lawyers on their own. If the truth is revealed, such relevant personnel have perhaps already broken the law. We hope that these relevant departments in Shenzhen will immediately rectify these illegal acts. The defenders requested that the Yantian District Detention Center allow the families-appointed lawyers to see the suspects, and to read them their rights. At the same time, we also appeal to those lawyers who have been arranged to intervene in the case. Without the authorization of family members, we ask that you resign from the case immediately because you have no rights to defend. Even if you were “entrusted” by those detained at the center, the truth will come to light eventually. Your appointment will not withstand scrutiny and confrontation, therefore we hope that you respect the law and not violate it knowingly. Please respect your conscience and professional ethics.
3. Duties of defense lawyers entrusted by families
As mentioned above, the families-appointed lawyers' right to defense is currently being restricted, but does it mean that these lawyers are not qualified to defend? Of course not. Before meeting the client, the defenders should continue to perform their defense duties by initiating complaints and allegations as follows: 1) the Yantian District Detention Center has refused to arrange for the lawyers to meet with the suspects; 2) the Yantian District Public Security Bureau has not rectified the illegal behaviors of the detention center; 3) the delinquency of the prosecutor’s office of the Yantian District Procuratorate has not rectified the illegal behaviors of the detention center; 4) the investigation and supervision departments of the Yantian District Public Security Bureau have not responded to the defenders' complaints and allegations; 5) report to the Shenzhen Municipal Supervisory Committee the dereliction and abuse of power by relevant public officials. These aforementioned complaints and allegations can be lodged with procuratorates, public security organs, and supervising committees at all levels in Guangdong Province. Concurrently, defense lawyers can also write letters to their clients and request the detention center to ensure that they receive them as a right to communicate.
4. Family members' rights and suggestions for rights protection
So far, the families in Hong Kong have neither received any substantial help from the Hong Kong government, nor have they been able to get a hang of the situation of their family members in the Yantian Detention Center through their defenders. Since they are unfamiliar with mainland laws, they are very anxious and flustered and not sure how to go about defending the rights of their families. As such, I hereby make a few suggestions for the family members to defend their rights.
Family members must first know what rights they have, including the most important rights to know, the right to communicate, and the right to meet. The right to know means that family members have the right to know all the progress of the case and the health status of their detained relatives. The case-handling agency should inform the family members of the progress of the case in a timely, proactive, and complete manner. The right to communicate is mostly about correspondence. Family members can write letters to the parties at any time, and ask whether the case-handling agency has forwarded the letters to the detained while requesting to receive a response. The Yantian Public Security Bureau should ensure the suspects' right to communicate and provide convenience for such communication between the family and the suspects. The mainland’s Criminal Procedure Law does not stipulate the family’s right to meet before the judgment, but the current Detention Center Ordinance has the provision that Hong Kong family members can apply to the Yantian District Public Security Bureau or the Guangdong Provincial Public Security Bureau to meet with the detained.
In view of the existing inconvenience between the two places, in addition to continuing to seek help through the Hong Kong government, the families can also meet with the NPC deputies and CPPCC representatives in Hong Kong, clearly voice their demands, and ask them to perform their duties as the NPC deputies and CPPCC members, through the Ministry of Public Security and the Supreme Procuratorate, hold accountable these violators of the law within the public security bureau and procuratorates in Shenzhen’s Yantian District.
The 8.23 border crossing case was originally an extremely ordinary one, but within the context of history, it seems to be evolving into one of the most influential and controversial cases since Hong Kong’s Handover in 1997. In the vortex of the times, each and every one of us is more or less feeling helpless. However, the defense lawyers will face everything calmly in the name of the rule of law. In this difficult time, all defenders will abide by the concept of the rule of law, stand firmly with the families, and allow us to hold their hands tightly to accompany them through the most turbulent time in this life.
(Lu Siwei, Chinese human rights lawyer)
Click here for Chinese version
Other references [updated]:
RFA 7 September 2020. Hong Kong Detainees in China Denied Meetings With Defense Lawyers
RTHK 8 September 2020. HK can't intervene in fugitive suspects' case: CE
RTHK 9 September 2020. Lawyer again denied access to detainees on mainland
Apple Daily 9 September 2020. Foiled escape plot leaves families of 12 Hongkongers in Chinese custody ‘very scared, very worried’
Reddit 11 September 2020. One of 12 who fled Hong Kong for Taiwan denied medication despite being diagnosed with major depressive order. She was also reportedly denied meetings with her delegated lawyer by authorities.
Apple Daily 11 September 2020. Hongkongers seized en route to Taiwan denied right to hire own lawyers
RTHK 12 September 2020. [US Secretary of State] Pompeo concerned about HK activists held on mainland
Reuters 12 September 2020. Families of captured Hong Kong activists demand their return
Apple Daily 12 September 2020. US slams Carrie Lam for failing to protect Hongkongers detained in China
Apple Daily 12 September 2020. Families of 12 Hongkongers arrested in Taiwan escape attempt plea for help and answers
Apple Daily 12 September 2020. Taiwan authorities detaining five Hongkongers, claims Taiwanese journalist
Reddit 12 September 2020. The 4 demands of the families of 12 Hong Kong "speedboat fugitives": 1) Reject mainland govt assigned lawyers and allow their lawyers to meet them, 2) arrange medication to detainees in need, 3) allow family to call detainees, 4) HK govt to ensure rights of detainees and transfer them back to HK now
RTHK 12 September 2020. 'All 12 detainees on the mainland in good health'
RTHK 12 September 2020. Families of captured HK activists urge their return
RTHK 13 September 2020. Captured Hongkongers are separatists, says Beijing
RTHK 13 September 2020. 'Hong Kong 12 will be used as bargaining chips'
Apple Daily 13 September 2020. US, China diplomats in Twitter row over 12 arrested Hongkongers
Apple Daily 13 September 2020. Save the Kidnapped Ocean’s Twelve
RTHK 13 September 2020. News agency confirms Hongkongers held in Taiwan
RFA 14 September 2020. China Says 12 Fleeing Hongkongers Held in Shenzhen Are 'Separatists'
Apple Daily 15 September 2020. Hongkongers detained in Shenzhen will learn their fate in 16 days: lawyer
Apple Daily 15 September 2020. More Chinese lawyers told to drop cases of 12 Hongkongers caught fleeing to Taiwan
RFA 15 September 2020. Twelve Hong Kong Detainees 'Not Oppressed' in Chinese Detention Center: Carrie Lam
Apple Daily 17 September 2020. 12 detained democratic activists in China could pressure CCP｜Glacier Kwong
RFA 17 September 2020. Family of Detained Hong Kong Teen Face Obstacles At Every Turn
RTHK 19 September 2020. All detainees have picked their lawyers: John Lee
RTHK 20 September 2020. Relatives of detained 12 demand info on arrests
Apple Daily 20 September 2020. Families of the Hong Kong 12 demand transparency over mainland China detention
Apple Daily 20 September 2020. Fears 12 Hongkongers may be hostage diplomacy victims, just like ‘the two Michaels from Canada’
Reddit 20 September 2020. United Nation Human Rights “urge Chinese authorities to ensure due process rights to group of 12 Hong Kongers arrested at sea, including swift access to legal representation of their choosing.”
RTHK 21 September 2020. 'No sign' of coast guard entering HK waters: police
Reddit 21 September 2020. The father of one of the 12 HK detainees questions if cops colluded with Chinese government, saying the cops showed him a phone with his son's WhatsApp account with chat history.
Apple Daily 21 September 2020. Lawmaker demands release of radar records for detained Hongkongers
RFA 22 September 2020. Hong Kong Detainees ‘Allocated Lawyers’ From Official List: Reports
RTHK 23 September 2020. Lawyers of HK detainees fail to make any headway
Apple Daily 26 September 2020. Democrats using Hong Kong 12 to incite hatred of China, Xinhua says in first commentary on case
Apple Daily 25 September 2020. Sister of detained Hongkonger takes fight to social media with ‘Andy is Missing’ page
RTHK 26 September 2020. Mainland conveys arrest details of 12 detainees
RTHK 26 September 2020. 'Cops acting as mouthpiece of mainland authorities'
Apple Daily 27 September 2020. Lawyer pressured to quit representing Hongkonger detained in mainland China
Apple Daily 27 September 2020. Case of 12 arrested Hongkongers to be lodged with Shenzhen prosecutors for arrest approval
RTHK 27 September 2020. Another lawyer forced to drop HK speedboat case
Apple Daily 28 September 2020. Police refuse to release radar records for arrest of Hong Kong 12 at sea
RTHK 29 September 2020. Liaison office slams calls for October 1 protests
RTHK 30 September 2020. Two of detained Hongkongers face more serious charge
Apple Daily 1 October 2020. Shenzhen authorities formally arrest ‘Hong Kong 12’ for illegal border crossing after monthlong detention
RTHK 1 October 2020. 'Family, lawyers, can't meet detainees before trial'
Apple Daily 2 October 2020. Rumor spreads about 12 Hongkongers facing months in Chinese custody before trial
Apple Daily 6 October 2020. Exclusive: Hong Kong aircraft stalked Taiwan-12 speedboat before mainland capture
Twitter Joshua Wong (HKG aircraft flight path)
Twitter BeWaterhkg (HKG aircraft flight path)
RTHK 6 October 2020. Carrie Lam slams flight tracker report as 'smearing'
RFA 6 October 2020. Hong Kong Government Denies Involvement in Capture of Fleeing Activists
RTHK 7 October 2020. Flying Service not to release any flight data
RTHK 8 October 2020. Activists rally at flying service HQ over detainees
Apple Daily 8 October 2020. Police officers used government aircrafts to track Hong Kong 12 before mainland capture
Reddit 9 October 2020. Two police officers with encrypted radios on board GFS aircraft tracking 12 Hongkongers escaping via speedboat
Reddit 9 October 2020. 12 HKers - Flight data for the helicopter B-LVH shows 0ft altitude and 0kts speed at 10am, suggesting it landed on the Chinese Coast Guard vessel right after the arrest took place
Reddit 9 October 2020. 黃之鋒 Joshua Wong: A conspiracy to turn Hongkongers to China with clear evidence: families demanding for immediate release of the 12 Hongkongers
Apple Daily 9 October 2020. Save the 12 Hongkongers in jail in China｜Benedict Rogers
Apple Daily 9 October 2020. Flying service labels mission on Hong Kong 12 as ‘police operation’
Apple Daily 10 October 2020. Document leak reveals the incontrovertible truth: The Hong Kong Police lured the 12 youths into hell｜Jack Hazlewood
RTHK 10 October 2020. Nine arrested by police for assisting offenders
Apple Daily 11 October 2020. Activists vow solidarity with families of 12 arrested Hongkongers
Apple Daily 11 October 2020. Nine nabbed for helping Hong Kong 12 escape: police
Apple Daily 12 October 2020. US State Department criticises HK arrests
Apple Daily 13 October 2020. SAVE 12: Hongkongers and Taiwanese in solidarity with activists detained in China
Apple Daily 14 October 2020. Top US diplomat Pompeo defends 12 detained Hongkongers: ‘America stands with you’
Apple Daily 14 October 2020. New perspectives on HKers alleged 8.23 illegal border crossing | Lu Siwei
RTHK 14 October 2020. Joshua Wong is smearing us, protests police chief
Twitter 14 October 2020 Premeditated abduction
Twitter 14 October 2020 HK police setup the 12
RTHK 21 October 2020 Lawmaker accused of encouraging suspects to flee HK
Apple Daily 21 October 2020 HK security chief won’t reveal flight details on day of Hong Kong 12′s arrest
Apple Daily 22 October 2020 ‘My heart goes out to you,’ US senator stands with families of Hong Kong 12
RTHK 23 October 2020 Case of 12 HK detainees kept off Legco's agenda
Apple Daily 23 October 2020 Dozens of UK lawmakers want foreign chief Raab to demand China release Hongkongers
Apple Daily 24 October 2020 Chinese lawyers for Hong Kong 12 file complaint over denial of visits