‘Say no to political abduction! Don’t be the next to disappear!’ Thousands protest over missing Hong Kong booksellers
Crowds march in support of the disappearance of five booksellers from Hong Kong, declaring free speech and the ‘One Country Two Systems’ principle is under threat
Thousands took to the streets of Hong Kong yesterday over the mysterious disappearances of five booksellers, while a pro-establishment heavyweight called on the government to seek Beijing’s help to defend the “one country, two systems” principle.
The protest was the largest of a series of actions since the disappearance of Lee Bo, who runs Causeway Bay Books, a store specialising in books critical of the Communist Party. He was last seen on December 30 at the Chai Wan warehouse of his publishing house, Mighty Current.
Lee’s disappearance led to speculation that mainland security agents were involved, as Lee contacted his wife from Shenzhen to say he was “helping with an investigation”. There is no record of Lee leaving the city. In a letter faxed to an associate he said he went to the mainland “on his own way”. Four associates vanished in Thailand and Guangdong.
Over the weekend police also shed details on a 2013 kidnap case in which mainland police were able to arrest a Hong Kong businessman who was “unlawfully detained” in the city before being taken across the border.
Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing said the government should consider appealing to Beijing to intervene as no progress had been made a week after it sought help from local mainland authorities.
“If the SAR government thinks [its communication] with the mainland authorities is ineffective, it should consider raising the case to the central government so the latter could urge the relevant departments to cooperate with Hong Kong,” he said, adding the saga threatened the principle of “one country, two systems”.
Stream of people just endless. Protest over missing booksellers happening right now pic.twitter.com/9fOqKNX5uI
— Phila Siu (Bobby) (@phila_siu) January 10, 2016
— Juliana Liu劉林 (@julianaliu) January 10, 2016
The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, said about 6,000 people marched, although police said it peaked at 3,500.
“Say no to political abduction! Defend ‘One Country, Two Systems’! Don’t be the next to disappear!” protesters chanted as they marched from government headquarters in Tamar to Beijing’s liaison office in Sai Wan.
“The turnout reflects how much the Hong Kong people treasure the freedom and rights they enjoy under the ‘one country, two systems’ principle,” said alliance secretary Lee Cheuk-yan.
Hours before the protest, pro-establishment newspaper Headline Daily claimed Lee’s wife had received another letter, the third, and a video of her husband, in which he purportedly said the march “puzzled” him and added pressure on him and his family.
Protester Chin Ho, 75, said he felt a responsibility to defend Hong Kong for the next generation. And Billy Wu, a 43-year-old who works in marketing, said:”I don’t want to be the next to disappear. Who knows if people who have taken part in the Umbrella Movement will be the next to disappear?”
READ MORE: New claim Lee Bo sent a video and a letter to his wife saying his visit to mainland was ‘personal decision’
Reports suggested that Mighty Currentwas due to publish a book on President Xi Jinping’s love life before he came to power.
— Article 45 (@exUKexHK) January 10, 2016
The Hong Kong government said in a statement that it understood the concerns of the city, adding the rule of law was the city’s cornerstone and law enforcement officers of other jurisdictions could not take enforcement actions in the city.