Bloomberg News

China Should Free Activists from Labor Camp, Lawmaker Says

July 26, 2012

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying should ask China to release two activists reportedly sent to labor camps after they joined a July 1 protest march in Hong Kong, a member of the enclave’s Legislative Council said.

Lee Cheuk-yan, who has served on the council since the 1990s and is chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, said he will send a letter to Leung tomorrow asking him to push China to release the activists and express his concern that mainlanders are being punished for acts that are legal in Hong Kong.

Song Ningsheng, 44, and Zeng Jiuzi, 53, who took part in the Hong Kong march, were sentenced to 14 months in a labor camp in Jiangxi province after they made petitions on July 9 and July 11 in Beijing, the South China Morning Post reported today, citing the judgment.

“They participated in a lawful march,” Lee said in a telephone interview. We are concerned that the Chinese government “is trying to suppress mainlanders from participating in the protests.”

As many as 112,000 people joined an annual rally on July 1 in Hong Kong, the 15th anniversary of the city’s return to China, according to estimates by the University of Hong Kong. Protesters had drawn attention to issues ranging from the wealth gap in the city to human rights in China to demands for a higher minimum wage.

Chinese President Hu Jintao was in the city for Leung’s inauguration that day. Hong Kong is governed under a so-called “one country, two systems” framework where the city has its own judiciary and citizens enjoy civil liberties including a free press and freedom of assembly not available in China.

Chinese authorities may not interfere in the affairs that fall under Hong Kong’s jurisdiction under the Basic Law, the city’s de-facto constitution, according to an e-mailed reply from Hong Kong’s Security Bureau to questions on the case. Both Hong Kong and China have a clear understanding of the provision, according to the reply.

Law enforcement officers of other jurisdictions can’t undertake enforcement duties in the city, according to the comments.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Michael Forsythe in Hong Kong at mforsythe@bloomberg.net; Simon Lee in Hong Kong at slee936@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net


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