Hong Kong leader says 12 arrested at sea by China 'should accept legal liability'

WION Web Team
Hong Kong Published: Sep 15, 2020, 11:02 AM(IST)

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam holds a news conference in Hong Kong, China Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The 12 were arrested on August 23 for illegal entry into mainland China after setting off from Hong Kong in a boat bound for self-ruled Taiwan, amid a crackdown by Beijing on pro-democracy activists in the former British colony.

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Tuesday said that the people arrested by China at sea while trying to flee the city by boat are not "democratic activists being oppressed" and "should accept the legal liabilities".

The 12 were arrested on August 23 for illegal entry into mainland China after setting off from Hong Kong in a boat bound for self-ruled Taiwan, amid a crackdown by Beijing on pro-democracy activists in the former British colony.

Speaking at her regular weekly news conference, Lam reiterated that the 12 will have to face justice in the mainland and that her government will provide them and their families with the "needed and feasible" assistance.

Also read: Families express fear over China capturing 12 Hong Kongers during flee attempt

"The reason for them leaving Hong Kong seems to be that they were running away from legal responsibility," Lam said.

"I want to set the record straight, because certain local and overseas individuals tried to shift the attention, describing them as democratic (activists) being oppressed."

Lam's comments come after relatives of some of the detainees held a news conference on Saturday to demand their urgent return and plead for them to be allowed to call home and consult lawyers appointed by the families and not the Chinese government.

Hours before the families' appearance, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States was deeply concerned about the activists, noting they had been denied access to lawyers.

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China's foreign ministry on Sunday labelled the group "separatists". Police in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, where they are being held, said on Sunday they were suspected of illegal entry, its first public notice on the matter.

23 for illegal entry into the mainland after taking off on a boat bound for Taiwan as pro-democracy activists fear Beijing's crackdown.

The government said all 12 were suspected of committing crimes in Hong Kong, with 11 charged with offences of arson and manufacturing or possessing of explosives. One was suspected of colluding with foreign forces, a charge under the national security law imposed by Beijing in June and could lead to life imprisonment.

Relatives of the 12, the youngest a boy aged 16, held a news conference on Saturday (September 12) demanding their return.

 

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