A letter from Tai A Chau

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 January, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 January, 1994, 12:00am

THIS is the letter smuggled out by the protesters at Tai A Chau Detention Centre: The people of Tai A Chau are protesting Ha's arbitrary arrest and unjustified removal from his community (who know and love him). While today we struggle for Ha, surely we struggle with the knowledge and belief that forced repatriation is inhumane and detestable for anyone. But be assured that we fight today for Ha because he is an important part of our community and is facing unfair and inhumane treatment.

During the protest, the thousands of people in Tai A Chau came together as one, peacefully and with great strength on Ha's behalf. We faced the power of the police, their many boats, people, tear gas and weapons. During negotiations with the camp authorities and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the community leaders and the Tai A Chau community were promised that Ha's case would be reconsidered in the light of additional information that has been brought forward.

We were assured that Ha would not be forcibly repatriated to Vietnam before his case was thoroughly and thoughtfully reconsidered. We also want Ha to be returned to us at Tai A Chau pending this decision in order that he is surrounded by those who care for him during this difficult time.

We only ask for fairness and just treatment, nothing more than what any human being deserves. For these principles, and on Ha's behalf, we fight this battle until the final decision on Ha is reached and announced publicly to the community. We will not fight with violence, but peacefully with our hearts, our heads and our solidarity.

This past week, thousands sat for 24 hours without food, water or sleep. We concluded our protest to take care of our people after a difficult day and night, and in agreement with the camp authorities. We trust that our agreement with UNHCR and the Tai AChau authorities is honoured and Ha will receive fair consideration of his case.

As the citizens of Hong Kong prepare for the transition to Chinese rule, they have worked for an agreement for equitable and humane treatment by the Chinese Government. We ask for no more from the Hong Kong Government and the UNHCR - equitable and humanetreatment for all of our people.

The Community Leaders Tai A Chau Vietnamese Detention Centre Hong Kong