The European Union urged Beijing to immediately release the 12 Hong Kong activists, including a Luso-Chinese, detained in August at sea and tried in China on Monday, without their rights being respected.
In a statement, a spokesman for the EU High Representative for Foreign Policy states that “10 out of 12 Hong Kong individuals detained at sea by Chinese authorities in August were tried in Shenzhen on December 28” without being authorized “To appoint lawyers of your choice” and with access to them “strongly restricted”.
Josep Borrell’s spokesman goes on to state that “the trial was not held in an open court”, “diplomatic representatives were unable to attend court proceedings” and “the presence of family members of the detainees was banned”.
“The defendants’ rights to a fair trial and due process – in accordance with international human rights law and as provided for by China’s Criminal Procedure Law – have not been respected. We urge China to guarantee procedural justice and due process for these individuals, ”reads the statement.
In conclusion, the EU then asks for “the immediate release of these 12 individuals and their quick return to Hong Kong”.
Family members of Hong Kong youth, including Luso-Chinese Tsz Lun Kok, accused in China of trying to escape by speedboat in the face of a repressive campaign against dissidents, revealed today that the youths have pleaded guilty.
The detainees’ families were also informed by lawyers appointed by the Yantian district court in the southeastern city of Shenzhen that the verdict will be delivered on Wednesday, according to the association 12 Hongkongers Concern Group, which is supporting the families.
It is not known whether the 10 youths who went on trial on Monday will be sentenced as early as Wednesday, but Chinese courts usually issue sentences at the same time as the verdicts.
The 10 defendants, including the Portuguese-Chinese Tsz Lun Kok, are accused of illegal border crossing. Two of them are also accused of organizing the escape attempt, according to the accusation issued in Shenzhen.
Separate hearings are also expected for two minors, who were also on board the boat.
The 12 detainees, most of whom were linked to last year’s anti-government protests in Hong Kong, have been detained for about four months in Shenzhen, a Chinese city adjacent to the former British colony, for “illegal crossing” of continental waters.
The group had started their journey to Taiwan, where they are thought to be seeking asylum, when the launch they were on was intercepted on August 23 by the Chinese coast guard.
The escape attempt was prompted by Beijing’s imposition of a national security law in Hong Kong. Since then, several government critics have fled Hong Kong, many to the island of Taiwan.
The defendants’ relatives said they were prevented from hiring their own lawyers and that the charges are politically motivated.
The defendants can be sentenced to up to one year in prison, for crossing the border, and to seven years, for having organized the trip.
Family members were informed only on Friday that the trial would take place on Monday. In other words, they were unable to attend the session, due to the 14-day quarantine imposed on those arriving in mainland China, a measure to combat the covid-19 pandemic.
Tsz Lun Kok, who has Portuguese and Chinese nationality, although China does not recognize dual nationality, had already been detained on November 18, 2019, in Hong Kong, and later released, during the police siege of the Polytechnic University of that territory , being accused of riot, for allegedly participating in a maneuver to divert the attention of the security forces with the aim of allowing refugee students to flee inland.
This article is available in: Português