Released bookseller confirms Lee Bo was abducted in Hong Kong

June 17, 2016 11:42
Ít can happen to you, too,' Lam Wing-kee tells Hongkongers at a news conference Thursday. Photo: Reuters

One of the five booksellers who went missing last year has confirmed that his colleague Lee Bo was abducted in Hong Kong.

Lam Wing-kee, manager of Causeway Bay Books, owned by Mighty Current Media Ltd., a Hong Kong publisher of books critical of the Chinese elite, slammed Beijing for violating the “one country, two systems” principle, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported Friday. 

Accompanied by Democratic Party lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-yan, Lam told media at a news conference Thursday that when he met Lee earlier in the day, Lee admitted he was taken to mainland China from Hong Kong on Dec. 30.

Although Lee, a major shareholder of Mighty Current Media who has since returned to the city, has claimed since his disappearance that he went to the mainland of his own accord, Lam said he believes Lee was forced to make those statements.

Cross-border law enforcement of this kind is evidence that Beijing has failed to keep its promises under the “one country, two systems” principle and infringed human rights, Lam said.

Lee refused to say anything when he was approached by reporters from Ming Pao Daily Wednesday night.

As for himself, Lam said he was taken away by some people, who, he heard, were from the "central case examination group”, in October when he tried to enter Shenzhen before heading for Dongguan to meet his girlfriend.

Those people first took Lam to Ningbo, Zhejiang province, before moving him to Shaoguan in Guangdong, detaining him for a total of eight months, he said.

They accused him of “sending banned books to the mainland from Hong Kong”, Lam said.

He said Beijing has a list of people, mostly mainlanders, who had purchased books published by Mighty Current Media.

On Tuesday, Lam returned to Hong Kong, accompanied by two people from the group, who demanded that he take back evidence in the form of customer lists to the mainland.

The duo also ordered him to tell Hong Kong police to drop his case and refrain from holding a news conference.

However, after reading news accounts of how 6,000 Hongkongers protested against the abduction of the booksellers in January, Lam decided to step forward and reveal to the public details of what actually happened to them.

Lam said the episode was not only about him or his colleagues but about the freedom of all Hongkongers.

“It can happen to you too,” Lam said.

He did not take back evidence regarding his case back to the mainland on Thursday as he was told.

Asked if he was worried he would be taken away to the mainland from Hong Kong like Lee had been and if he intends to ask for police protection, Lam said no to both questions.

He stressed that the police are not trustworthy, citing as an example their use of tear gas against protesters during the Occupy movement in 2014.

Lam vowed to stay in Hong Kong, saying he has no plan to emigrate or seek political asylum elsewhere, although he confessed that he dare not and will not set foot in the mainland again.

In response to Lam’s remarks, the Hong Kong government said police are still following up on the entire episode.

It reiterated that it is neither acceptable nor legal for anyone to come to Hong Kong from outside to engage in law enforcement activities.

Meanwhile, Labour Party lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan, who convenes regular meetings of the pan-democrats, proposed a special meeting at which Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok and Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor should be present to provide explanations for the case of the missing booksellers.

[Chinese version中文版]

Two released booksellers said to have gone back to China quickly (Mar. 11, 2016)

How China’s spin doctors bungled the latest Lee Bo script (Mar. 3, 2016)

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Hong Kong Economic Journal