Humans of Hong Kong

Humans of Hong Kong

Translated version of feature stories and interviews by Stand News. 立場新聞專題、人訪的英文版本。

2020/5/29 - 15:23

Protesting the National-Security Law: Stories of Arrested Persons and Their Loved Ones

On 27 May, the Hong Kong police arrested more than 300 across the city after people gathered to protest Beijing’s national-security law and the national anthem bill. The arrested persons were sent to police stations in North Point, Aberdeen and Hung Hom. Many of their family members were seen waiting outside the police stations. 

A Form 3 student was waiting outside the police station for her sister who had been arrested. She shed frightful tears when thinking her sister could be a victim of police brutality. A gentleman hurried to the police station, hoping to get the latest news of his arrested girlfriend. A mother was seen rushing to the police station in business attire after learning her son had been arrested – still unwavered in her belief that her son has the right to demonstrate.

Scenes like these – of loved ones separated by the tall walls of police stations, longing for reunion – have become commonplace among protesting Hong Kongers.

廣告

Photograph: a box of bottled water that ordinary Hong Kongers donated to the arrested persons and their families.
 
The teenager who rushed to the police station after school

Photograph: a box of bottled water that ordinary Hong Kongers donated to the arrested persons and their families.

K, a Form 3 student still in her school uniform, was by herself at the Hong Hom police station, where she made inquiries, put down her personal details, dialled calls, and stood around. When Stand News asked if she knew someone who was arrested, K replied: “That’s my sister,” hardly able to hold back her tears.

K found out about her sister’s arrest in Mong Kok on Wednesday afternoon through her sister’s friends and on Telegram. In images circulating on Telegram, K spotted her sister in a huge swathe of arrested persons. She was in school uniform at the time. K was not too surprised by the heavy-handed policing. “I knew the police would be making arbitrary arrests,” but she still thought it was absurd that someone in school uniform like her sister would be arrested. 

K, who headed straight to the police station after school, had in fact never encountered this situation. At a loss for what to do, she went online to read up on the procedures that arrested persons go through and sought help from friends. She had contacted a lawyer and informed her parents. Her dad was on his way to the police station – and the whole family was prepared to wait until the early hours.

What worried K the most, however, was that her sister may suffer beatings while being detained in the police station. She only hoped her sister would be released on bail as soon as possible. The teenager K burst into tears again and said, “We will face it together with her no matter what.”

The worried boyfriend

H, who was waiting outside Aberdeen police station, told Stand News that he and his girlfriend T had often discussed politics since being together, but they acted differently on the ground. H was more of a risk-taker, but this time it was his more cautious girlfriend T who got arrested. “When she comes out, the only thing I want to ask her is: Are you alright?” H said. 

H recognised that T had been arrested in Central in a Stand News photograph. He contacted T’s sister, and headed straight to the Aberdeen police station, hoping to help out. “I was damn worried when I knew she was arrested,” H said. Although T had told him of her plans the night before, H was worried for her all the same. H had been out protesting, too, but when he learnt about T’s arrest, he immediately left for Aberdeen.

“Rubbish,” H said of the imminent national-security law and the national anthem bill. “They won’t work in Hong Kong,” H said. He vowed to fight on, undeterred by the policing that is getting more draconian by the day. “It can’t be worse than death,’ he uttered. Asked about what he would do now that his girlfriend is arrested, he said: “I would do all I can to protect her.” 
 
Photograph: H

Photograph: H

The mother who believes those arrested didn’t break the law

At 7 p.m., around 100 family members of arrested persons were waiting outside the North Point police station. More than 150 arrested persons were detained inside, according to one District Councillor. The police had agreed to fast-track the cases of the underaged, following negotiations with the District Councillors, and they were all expected to be released that evening. The rest would have to wait until the following afternoon.

C, dressed in office attire, had rushed over from Prince Edward after finding out about her son’s arrest at 2:30 p.m. “I had no idea what was going on,” C said helplessly. Her son worked in Causeway Bay and was having lunch with friends at Hysan Place. He was arrested as he was leaving the shopping mall. C told Stand News that she had come to North Point police station to bail her son out once before. Her son was arbitrarily arrested in Causeway Bay on Dec. 31, 2019. “As a parent, I feel frustrated. The government may as well declare martial law, then it would be his fault if he was arrested. But we’re not living under martial law now, so why are they arresting every youngster out there?”

When C at last walked out of the police station that time, she gave him a tight hug and asked what he wanted to eat. At home, C could not help but ask whether her son had any plans to leave Hong Kong. “I thought young people couldn’t see hope anywhere, but he told me ‘I was born in Hong Kong, why should I run away? What’s the point of leaving?’” Although C worried for her son’s safety as a parent, she thought that since Hong Kong is supposed to be a free society, then Hong Kongers should be entitled to protest and march. C believed that her son never did anything wrong when protesting, yet he was arbitrarily arrested time and again. C was “extremely disappointed” at the government and said “I believe no one arrested today had done anything unlawful.”

James Pui, a councillor for the Eastern District, observed that even more people were arrested on Wednesday compared with last Sunday, and at least 20 councillors from other districts were assisting the arrested persons’ family members at the police station. According to Pui’s experience last time, many parents would either wait for their children at the police station or at the District Councillors’ offices through the night. Pui said that starting from this month, District Councillors have been allowed inside the North Point police station to help with coordination, cases of arrested persons have been processed more quickly, and parents can provide hot meals to the detained. Although the work of supporting the arrested persons has become easier, Pui said "we mustn’t become inured to arbitrary arrests. When the government commits more injustices, resistance is evermore the people’s right."

Photograph: James Pui, the District Councillor of Healthy Village

Photograph: James Pui, the District Councillor of Healthy Village