Hong Kong police question more family members of exiled pro-democracy activists

Goal of early morning raids is to instill fear, commentators say.
By Gigi Lee for RFA Cantonese
Hong Kong police question more family members of exiled pro-democracy activists Michael Kwok, elder brother of exiled activist Dennis Kwok, one of the eight overseas activists wanted by Hong Kong Police, leaves a police station in Hong Kong, Thursday, July 20, 2023.
Credit: Tyrone Siu/Reuters

Hong Kong police on Thursday took away for questioning several family members of exiled pro-democracy activists wanted for "collusion with foreign forces" for campaigning against an ongoing crackdown on dissent in the city.

Police raided the home of trade unionist Mung Siu-tat's brother, taking him, his wife and their son for questioning on suspicion of "assisting fugitives to continue to engage in acts that endanger national security," a police spokesperson told Radio Free Asia.

Police also took away the parents, brother and sister-in-law of exiled former pro-democracy lawmaker Dennis Kwok and questioned them on suspicion of the same offense, the South China Morning Post and Standard newspapers reported.

No arrests were made, and all of the activists' family members were released after questioning, the reports said.

Eight bounties

The raids came after similar action against the family members of exiled former pro-democracy lawmaker Nathan Law, who is also on a wanted list of eight prominent overseas activists.

On July 3, national security police issued arrest warrants and offered bounties for U.K.-based Mung, Kwok, Law and five other exiled campaigners, saying they are wanted in connection with "serious crimes" under Hong Kong's national security law.

U.K.-based Finn Lau, Australia-based Ted Hui and Kevin Yam and U.S.-based Anna Kwok and Elmer Yuen are also on the wanted list, with bounties of HK$1 million (US$127,700) offered for information that might lead to an arrest.

A police spokesperson confirmed to Radio Free Asia that Mung's three relatives were questioned for "assisting fugitives," but declined to say why Kwok's relatives were questioned.

"This operation is still ongoing, and further law enforcement action, including arrests, cannot be ruled out," the spokesman said.

Instilling fear

Current affairs commentator Sang Pu said the raids, which have targeted 10 family members of the eight wanted activists to date, seemed calculated to create an atmosphere of fear.

"If there is evidence, then make an arrest," Sang said. "But what do they mean by taking people away for hours of interrogation without any evidence, then letting them go?"

"Is this a bid to ... create panic by banging on doors first thing in the morning?"

People walk past the police notices for pro-democracy activists at Wah Fu Estate in Hong Kong on Thursday, July 20, 2023. Credit: Bertha Wang/AFP

Elmer Yuen's son Derek and daughter-in-law Eunice Yung – a pro-China lawmaker – haven't been interrogated yet.

Yung made a high-profile announcement last August that she was cutting off ties with Yuen, calling him to return to Hong Kong and turn himself in.

Derek Yuen said in a recent media interview that they had spoken briefly with Elmer Yuen during a recent trip overseas, but had avoided any financial transactions with him.

Sang said it was telling that the couple – whose pro-China credentials are fairly solid – haven't been questioned yet.

The London-based rights group Hong Kong Watch said the raids are the "latest escalation" in the crackdown on opposition figures.

"This is a drastic escalation since the arrest warrants and bounties against the eight activists and the threats against Nathan’s family, which were already outrageous and completely unacceptable," the group's chief executive Benedict Rogers said.

"The Hong Kong government is openly and increasingly threatening activists abroad, in an attempt to silence them and spread fear among the community," Rogers said in a statement on the group's website. 

"This situation is increasingly similar to that in mainland China, and we are seeing Hong Kong plummet to this level in terms of human rights, particularly civil and political rights," he said, calling on governments to protect the rights and freedoms of activists in exile.

Translated by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Malcolm Foster.


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