11 abode seekers deported after second wave of home arrests

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 May, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 May, 2002, 12:00am

Eleven right-of-abode seekers were arrested yesterday as 99 police and immigration officers conducted a second round of raids on homes.

An Immigration Department spokesman said the operation began at 7am and ended shortly before 2pm.

Six men and five women, aged between 26 and 37, were arrested and all were repatriated to the mainland. Yesterday's raids on 19 flats brought to nearly 300 the number of abode seekers deported since the grace period for them to return to the mainland ended on April 1.

The brother of arrested abode seeker Luk Yuk-sim said he and his sister were still asleep at their Shekkipmei home when the immigration officers arrived.

'It was about 9am when the telephone rang,' he said.

'The caller did not make a sound. Before I could put down the phone, the door bell rang. My mother opened the door and we saw seven or eight immigration officers outside.

'My sister ran into the bedroom but she was spotted.'

The man said the officers caught his sister in the bedroom but allowed her to wash her face before taking her away.

'My sister was crying when she was taken away. My mother was very upset but could only watch in silence. She opened the door, as she knew the officers would have broken in if she had done otherwise,' he said.

He said his sister had moved away from home to stay with a friend after immigration officers conducted the first raids on flats last week. 'My sister came back home on Thursday to pick up something. She decided to stay for a night. And she was arrested the following morning,' he said.

The vice-chairman of an abode seekers' parents' group, Ngan Siu-lai, said another abode seeker, Chong Yuen-fan, was also arrested in similar manner yesterday.

An Immigration Department spokesman urged the abode seekers to return to the mainland. He said 100 claimants had decided to leave over the past week following last week's raids.

The 11 claimants removed yesterday were on a list of 480 abode seekers the Immigration Department announced it was targeting for arrest last week. They were among the 4,000 abode seekers who are still staying in Hong Kong. The other claimants have legal proceedings outstanding.

Activists and legal experts have questioned the necessity and legality of the house arrests, but the Security Bureau maintains the action is lawful. Ms Ngan yesterday said protests against the deportations would continue.