The family of detained Hong Kong activist Andy Li has said they are once more in contact with him, amid reports of his solitary detention in a psychiatric facility, as fellow speedboat fugitives were back behind bars on Monday over charges linked to the 2019 protest movement.
“After [Andy came] back to Hong Kong and disappear[ed] again, we’re finally receiving communication from Andy thanks to your continued attention on the matter!” Li’s sister Beatrice Li wrote on the “Andy is Missing” Facebook page.
“More to follow as we digest the information,” she wrote.
Li, 30, was among a group of 12 Hong Kong activists intercepted on Aug. 23, 2020 by the China Coast Guard aboard a speedboat that is believed to have been heading for the democratic island of Taiwan.
Li and seven other detainees subsequently served seven months in jail for “illegally crossing a border,” before being handed over to the Hong Kong police on March 22.
According to a report in the Apple Daily newspaper last month, Li is currently being held in solitary confinement at the maximum-security Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre, which the paper said “has a history of alleged abuses against its inmates.”
He was arrested by the Hong Kong police soon after arriving back in the city, under a draconian national security law imposed on Hong Kong by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from July 1, 2020.
Both the city’s police force and the Correctional Services Department (CSD) had told his family they had no record of where he was being held.
According to the Apple Daily, Li’s case is being handled by a special unit in the CSD colloquially known as the “secret unit.”
Five fellow speedboat detainees were remanded in custody on Monday after appearing briefly at Shatin Magistrates’ Court at the end of their 14-day quarantine period, government broadcaster RTHK reported.
Cheung Chun-fu, Cheung Ming-yu, and Yim Man-him face charges of conspiracy to wound with intent and possession of an offensive weapon or other instrument fit for unlawful purpose, the report said. Their cases have been adjourned to May 3 at Eastern Court.
Kok Tsz-lun is charged with possession of an instrument fit for unlawful purpose and with intent to use for any unlawful purpose. His case was adjourned to May 5 at Tuen Mun Magistrates’ Court, RTHK said, while the next hearing date for Wong Wai-yin, charged with making explosives, has been set for May 3 at Fanling Magistrates’ Court.
Police patrol cemetery
Meanwhile, police stepped up their patrols of a remote hillside cemetery after floral offerings began appearing over the weekend on anonymous graves, marking the Ching Ming festival of grave-tending and the honoring of ancestors,
Visitors to Sandy Ridge Cemetery, where unclaimed corpses are buried, burned incense and paper offerings, as well as laying fruit, flowers, and other offerings at unmarked graves. Some of the offerings bore the symbols of the 2019 protest movement, which have largely been banned since the CCP’s national security law took effect.
One of the visitors, Chan Kei-kau, said he was a member of the Protect the Children group of mostly Christian volunteers supporting young protesters in 2019.
Chan said he felt the need to honor “people who died in unknown circumstances.” Many of the visitors who left offerings at the unmarked graves wore black clothing, a color typically associated by the 2019 protest movement.
There was a strong police presence at the cemetery throughout the holiday weekend, and police were taking the ID card numbers of anyone entering the section containing unmarked graves.
Police also closed off a nearby intersection and set up roadblocks to ensure that non-residents couldn’t enter the area near the cemetery by vehicle, but only on foot.
Throughout the 2019 protest movement, reports continued to circulate on social media citing protester disappearances and deaths reported by the authorities as suicide, prompting recurrent rumors that some protesters had lost their lives far from the public eye.
Protesters have repeatedly laid wreaths and other tributes outside Prince Edward MTR station following persistent reports that deaths occurred inside when riot police stormed the station on Aug. 31.
The selective release of surveillance footage from cameras inside the station by the Mass Transit Rail Corp. did little to assuage public mistrust in the police, who have been repeatedly accused by protesters, medical personnel, and human rights groups of the mistreatment, torture, and sexual abuse of arrestees since protests escalated in early June.
In October 2019, dozens of people paid their respects to Chan Yin-lam, a 15-year-old competitive swimmer who was ruled to have died by drowning after her body was found floating in the sea near Tseung Kwan O.
Chan Yin-lam had been enrolled on a youth training course at the Hong Kong Design Institute at the time of her death. Police said there were no marks of violence on her body, although it was found naked, and that her death wasn’t being treated as suspicious.
Reported by Carmen Wu and Fong Tak Ho for RFA’s Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.