Abode-fight parents take break from protests

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 April, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 April, 2002, 12:00am

Exhausted parents of the 4,000 mainlanders seeking right of abode took a break yesterday after a week of protests, with many choosing to spend time with their families amid fears they will soon be separated.

No mass protest was staged during the Ching Ming festival but a signature campaign was organised by a group of parents in Mongkok to seek public support. However, it met with a poor response.

The vice-chairman of a right-of-abode parents' group, Cheung Cho-sang, said most parents chose to spend the public holiday with their children.

'There is no protest today [Friday] or tomorrow. The parents want to spend more time with their children after all the protests and rallies over the past few days. Everyone is very tired,' he said.

However, he said the group would stage a mass protest tomorrow afternoon, marching from Chater Garden in Central to the Immigration Tower in Wan Chai.

The parents staged an overnight rally last Sunday when the deadline for losing abode claimants to return to the mainland expired.

A series of protests was organised over the week, including a demonstration at the immigration office at Kai Tak Government Building on Monday and at the Court of Final Appeal on Tuesday. The group also submitted legal aid applications on Thursday.

Jackie Hung Ling-yu, project officer of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese, which supports the abode seekers, said the claimants and their parents had been under tremendous stress, as they did not know when the Immigration Department would take action against them.

'I guess their fatigue is more from stress than the protests. I was told by the parents that they have been worried day and night over when their children will be sent back.

'As a [member of a] support group, I am sympathetic but there is not much I can do to relieve their fears and worries. I also share their feelings.'

The 4,000 abode seekers who remain in Hong Kong are facing forceful repatriation after losing their legal battle at the Court of Final Appeal on January 10 to seek right of abode.

A total of 1,335 abode seekers had returned to the mainland by last Sunday - the deadline for them to return without receiving any penalties from the mainland Government.

Up to yesterday, the Immigration Department had recorded 10 people who had returned voluntarily after the deadline expired.