HONG KONG (AP) — Relatives of a dozen Hong Kong residents who have been detained in mainland China for more than 3 1/2 months made a plea Saturday to be informed of the timing of any trials and whether they can attend.
The request underscored the sharp contrast between the relatively open legal system in Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous Chinese territory, and that of the mainland, where often little information is divulged until a trial is over.
“I miss my son so much,” the mother of Wong Wai-yin, one of the detainees, said, choking up. “I want to visit him so badly. I haven’t seen my son in a very long time — it’s almost four months. Please tell me (about the trial). I’m just an ordinary mother.”
The 12 were arrested at sea in August while they were apparently making a bid to flee to Taiwan after a tough national security law took effect in Hong Kong earlier this year.
They were picked up after entering mainland waters for crossing the maritime border without permission. At least some took part in anti-government protests in 2019 and were facing charges in Hong Kong.
Though Hong Kong is a part of China, travelers must still pass through immigration when going to and from the mainland.
Two are being held on suspicion of organizing an illegal border crossing. The group has been locked up in Shenzhen, a southern Chinese city that borders Hong Kong.
The relatives covered their faces with masks, and some wore sunglasses, caps or hoods to hide their identities as they spoke at a news conference. They did not give their names.
Owen Chow, an activist who has been helping the families, said they wanted to know whether the trials would be open to the public and if family members could attend.
He and some family members questioned the authenticity of letters some of the latter had received, purportedly from their detained relatives, saying they were being held in a good environment and not abused.
“The only thing I can do is to have dissatisfaction and be angry,” said a relative of Tang Kai-yin, another detainee. “I don’t know what else to do.”