HK protests: Greta Thunberg backs release of 12 city fugitives detained in mainland China

Jeffie Lam, South China Morning Post

Posted at Oct 19 2020 01:28 PM

Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg has joined a growing international list of campaigners and politicians demanding the release of 12 Hong Kong fugitives detained in mainland China after being arrested at sea while fleeing to Taiwan.

The Swedish environmentalist shared on Twitter a picture of her holding a white board bearing the message “#SAVE12HKYOUTHS” in response to a direct appeal to back the cause from Joshua Wong Chi-fung, the poster boy of Hong Kong’s protest movement.

Thunberg, who was Time magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year, also wrote on the post that “12 is more than just a number” and nominated three other young climate activiststo support the group, who are held in Shenzhen and all wanted in Hong Kong for offences allegedly committed during last year’s anti-government protests.

Mainland judicial authorities on September 30 officially approved the arrests of the 12 Hongkongers – captured at sea on August 23 while attempting to reach Taiwan by speedboat – on suspicion of illegal border crossing or organising such an act.

The 12 fugitives are currently detained in Yantian People’s Procuratorate in Shenzhen and have so far been prevented from meeting legal representatives of their own choosing.

Initiated last Wednesday by Hong Kong Watch founder Benedict Rogers and Hong Kong activist Joey Siu, the petition calls for the immediate return of the group to Hong Kong.

It also asks parliamentarians from across the world to lobby their respective governments to apply pressure on Beijing so the dozen have access to the lawyers they want, can contact their families and receive prescribed medication and other forms of treatment.

“The 12 Hong Kong youths detained in Shenzhen is a watershed case for Hong Kong, which will influence whether the extradition of pro-democracy activists to stand trial in the mainland becomes a common occurrence,” it wrote.

“If the Chinese authorities are allowed to prosecute and imprison Hong Kong activists on the mainland with little outcry or response from the international community, Beijing will take this as a signal that it can use the national security law as a pretext to extradite other Hong Kong activists to stand trial.”

Organisers had called on the public to post a picture of themselves on Twitter with the campaign hashtag and invite three others to do the same.

Uffe Elbaek, member of the Danish Parliament; Australia-based political cartoonist Badiucao; Andreas Fulda, senior fellow at the University of Nottingham Asia Research Institute; and British politician Luke de Pulford, of the Hong Kong Watch, were among those signing up.

Hong Kong self-exiled activists, including Nathan Law Kwun-chung, currently in Britain, and Germany-based Ray Wong Toi-yeung, were also signatories.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said last month that the mainland authorities had the jurisdiction to detain the fugitives, adding those describing them as oppressed democracy activists were trying to distract from their wanted status.

It is not the first time Thunberg, whose three nominations for the campaign included Luisa Neubauer of Germany, has given her backing to the city’s protesters.

When Hongkongers on July 1 defied a police ban to protest against the Beijing-decreed national security law, she tweeted: “My thoughts are with the people of Hong Kong.”