Monday, March 22, 2021

Thoughts and letters for people behind bars in Hong Kong, many of whom are yet to be tried

People continue to support one another

To be sure, I get the feeling that the families of the 10 who are back in Hong Kong are taking some comfort from their loved ones being back on Hong Kong soil.  Such is the strong sense many Hong Kongers have that things are surely worse in Mainland China for those considered to be enemies of the state.  

Even so, as a Hong Kong Watch statement released today makes clear: "This is a bittersweet moment for Hong Kong. We welcome the return of eight of the twelve to Hong Kong, but reiterate our call that all twelve should be released back to Hong Kong. Those returning have an uncertain future ahead, with some facing trial and jail under the National Security Law. It's a case of out of the frying pan, into the fire." 
In addition, as a number of recent Hong Kong court decisions and revelations about the treatment of prisoners in Hong Kong prisons show, contemporary Hong Kong may no longer be the Hong Kong many people think they know or thought they knew.  I think of such as the rejection of bail for the majority of the 47 pro-democracy politicians and political activists whose "crime" appears to be no more than organizing and/or taking part in democratic primaries and the placing of a number of them in solitary confinement as well as behind bars while they await trial (which is only set to properly begin in May, several months after their being arrested and then locked up for their alleged offences)!
There are many who look upon solitary confinement as a form of torture; this especially when it is imposed on an individual for extended periods.  I'm sure it's small consolation but it does seem that the likes of Tam Tak-chi are, at least, allowed visitors from time to time even while officially in solitary confinement.  Something else that they are allowed are letters from outside: which is why people are being encouraged to write to Hong Kong's (growing number of) political prisoners and jailed protestors.
For some time now, I've seen booths set up where one can write messages to those people put behind bars for their involvement in the anti-extradition law protests that morphed into something so much bigger.  In recent months, people have been more actively encouraged to write letters, including to the likes of Tam Tak-chi, Joshua Wong (also being held in solitary confinement), Agnes Chow (ditto) and those members of the 47 who have been denied bail, and being given advice on how to do so (and where to send their letters).  And after reading in Joshua Wong's Unfree Speech: The Threat to Global Democracy and Why We Must Act Now how appreciative he was of letters he received, including from complete strangers, while in prison, this seems like something worth doing for people worth caring for.  

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