The Chinese authorities have officially approved the arrest of 12 Hong Kong activists, now known as the “Hong Kong 12,” who were caught last month trying to flee the country to Taiwan via speedboats.
They have been detained without charges all this while in a detention center in the Shenzhen region, and lawyers were restricted from having access to them.
On Wednesday, the People’s Procuratorate of Yantian Districts in Shenzhen said that it approved the arrests, according to reports by Al Jazeera. Families of the detainees responded to the latest development, saying that they were “shocked and concerned” by the approval granted by the authorities.
The Foreign Ministry in Beijing says that some of the young fugitives were among those linked to last year’s ground-breaking protest in Hong Kong, which turned violent at some point. Among the people arrested is pro-democracy activist Andy Li. Li, alongside other pro-democracy activists such as Agnes Chow and Jimmy Lai were arrested on August 10 under the draconian National Security Law.
China imposed a new security law on Hong Kong that will give it jurisdiction to freely operate in Hong Kong and try the citizens of the city for some crimes.
Meanwhile, the Chinese authorities are putting intense pressure on the lawyers of the detainees to drop the case, according to activists. None of the lawyers have managed to see their clients since they were held up about a month ago.
Hong Kong’s judicial system is open and transparent, and detainees can be tried in open court, with due legal procedures observed. On the other hand, the judicial process in mainland China is notorious for being obscured in secrecy and conviction is very much in the books for every dissident who approaches it.
For the people of Hong Kong, the possibility of being tried under the strict and often blurred judicial system of mainland China brought new waves of protests that soon turned into pro-democracy protests and a call for more accountability by the government.
As the wave of crackdown on activists by Beijing takes a new turn, Taiwan has become a safe haven for dissidents. The country has often looked the other way to immigrants who turn up in the country without proper papers or visas.