domingo, 18 de outubro de 2009

Ainda sobre a entrega de Zhou Yongjun à China

Handing of dissident to mainland raises questions

South China Morning Post
October 18, 2009

The case of exiled mainland dissident Zhou Yongjun is becoming an embarrassment for the government and a challenge to the principle of "one country, two systems". More than a year after he was refused entry into Hong Kong from Macau, the circumstances in which he ended up in the hands of the mainland authorities remain largely a mystery.

It appears that after being kept for two days by local immigration officials, he was taken to Shenzhen and is now being held in Sichuan on fraud charges.

Zhou is a former student leader of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. Given his role as a dissident, questions have inevitably arisen as to the motives behind his arrest. So far, Hong Kong officials have refused to comment on the circumstances of the case. As a result, concerns are being raised about whether our city's separate system and autonomy on immigration matters have been compromised. Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen is facing calls for an official inquiry.

There is no rendition agreement between Hong Kong and the mainland. Normally, someone who tried to enter the city with suspicious travel documents would either be prosecuted in Hong Kong or sent back to where they came from. In Zhou's case, that would have been Macau. Alternatively, he could have been returned to the United States where he holds a green card, or permanent work permit. Or perhaps the mainland was taken to be his place of origin. Officials have not revealed their reasoning - and that only leads to suspicion.

According to Zhou's partner, Zhang Yuewei, Hong Kong immigration officials told Zhou they needed to verify his identity. He was taken to a car that drove him directly to Shenzhen and has been detained on the mainland ever since. Zhang says she was told of the sequence of events by Zhou's lawyers in Sichuan. The full picture has not emerged. There is an urgent need for the government to clarify the position.

The 42-year-old dissident spent several years in a mainland jail during the late 1990s. He travelled to Hong Kong from Macau on September 28 last year. As we report today, his partner says it was inmates in Shenzhen who first alerted her to his detention there. In May, his family was finally told that he was charged with fraud and being detained in Sichuan. What is even more puzzling is that he allegedly committed the fraud in Hong Kong. If so, why is he being tried on the mainland instead of facing justice before our courts?

It was foolish of Zhou, to say the least, to try to enter Hong Kong with a fake Malaysian passport, if that is what he did. Such actions cannot be condoned. But it is difficult to see the legal basis for sending him to the mainland. How was the decision made? What procedures were followed? Are there any safeguards in place to ensure the system is not abused? None of these questions have been answered.

Zhou's case is more disturbing than several previous high-profile cases involving suspects being detained and tried on the mainland, though they committed crimes in Hong Kong. They include "Big Spender" Cheung Tze-keung and Telford Gardens murderer Li Yuhui, who were both executed. In those cases, the suspects were first apprehended on the mainland; not so with Zhou. The Zhou affair will not go away quietly. The government must come clean and explain what really happened.

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