Last batch of activists leaves

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 May, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 May, 1997, 12:00am

The last group of stranded dissidents flew to the US yesterday, ending the territory's role as a safe haven for mainland political fugitives.

Among the six was Liu Yong, stranded for 20 months, who will join his elder brother, Liu Gang, the prominent Tiananmen student leader living in New York.

It was the fourth batch of dissidents to leave this week. Twenty-four left for northern Europe and the United States under the guidance of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of the Patriotic Democratic Movement in China.

Since the Tiananmen Square killings in June 1989, more than 400 dissidents have sought refuge here and about 250 have been accepted by the West. The US has accepted more than 100 and France about 50.

Of those who did not go abroad, some returned to China and about 30 became Hong Kong residents.

All dissidents on the government list have gone, except for 11, who are new arrivals, have uncertified identities or have declined offers of asylum.

Six of them petitioned Governor Chris Patten yesterday for speedy resettlement.

Alliance spokesman Cheung Man-kwong said genuine dissidents who were not adamant about going to a particular country could leave with the Government's help.

'In this sense, the Government's commitment to human rights and international responsibilities is worthy of appreciation,' he said.

Mr Cheung envisaged no danger to those who could not prove they were dissidents at risk of persecution.

The Immigration Department is investigating the identities of the new arrivals and the uncertified asylum-seekers. Mr Cheung said he did not think political asylum would be granted to Chinese dissidents once the post-handover government was in charge.

'Dissidents should seek refuge in foreign embassies in Beijing rather than be smuggled to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and face imminent deportation,' he said.