Court losers plan hunger strike

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 March, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 March, 2002, 12:00am

A group of losing right-of-abode claimants will launch a hunger strike next week as the April 1 deadline for the start of their removal to the mainland looms.

The move was revealed yesterday as the Immigration Department reiterated there would be no extension to the grace period for their repatriation.

A spokeswoman of the Right of Abode Committee, Fu Ka-wai, said about 100 of them would start a hunger strike next week in Chater Garden, Central.

'It will last until April 1,' Ms Fu said. 'We hope we'll be able to see the sun rise in Central on that day.

'We've psychologically prepared for any removal action. We've also worked out some contingency plans. But this will all depend on what action the Government will take against us.'

Ms Fu declined to elaborate on what the contingency plans were.

She said her group hoped the Government would allow them to stay as it would be difficult for many of them to apply to be reunited with their parents if they returned to the mainland.

Cheung Cho-sang, vice-chairman of an abode seekers' parents group, said: 'If they arrest our children, we as parents are prepared to go to jail with them.'

Mr Cheung said they would hand over a letter for Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa this morning asking for a meeting with him to resolve the problem.

Mr Tung promised to take the petition after dozens of abode seekers' parents marched to the Central Government Offices yesterday to demand a meeting.

The parents originally vowed to return every day but Mr Cheung said they would give Mr Tung a week to schedule the meeting.

'We'll come every day if we do not hear from him by next Tuesday,' he said.

The Court of Final Appeal ruled on January 10 that all but about 500 of the 5,114 abode seekers did not qualify.

The fate of a further 7,500 abode seekers was also sealed by the landmark ruling.

The Immigration Department estimated that more than 7,000 of these claimants remain in Hong Kong, while just 1,236 have so far returned to the mainland.