Families of 12 fugitives detained in Shenzhen receive ‘letters’ claiming that all is well

The letters, some of which include simplified Chinese characters (circled), paint an all-too-rosy picture of the conditions in the mainland Chinese detention center. Photo via Facebook/Save 12 Hong Kong Youths
The letters, some of which include simplified Chinese characters (circled), paint an all-too-rosy picture of the conditions in the mainland Chinese detention center. Photo via Facebook/Save 12 Hong Kong Youths

Several family members of the 12 Hongkongers detained by Beijing have received letters from the protesters held across the border, claiming that they are being treated “well” and that there is no need for concern.

On Thursday, Save 12 Hong Kong Youths, an activist group raising awareness for the detained, said on social media that seven of the families had been sent mail.

The letters, which were strikingly similar to each other, echoed how “good” life is at the detention center, and that they have been given adequate food and rest. They also emphasized that they were not being tortured.

The upbeat tone contrasts starkly with the fact that lawyers and human rights activists have routinely described the conditions in mainland Chinese detention centers as crowded and squalid, and authorities to be abusive.

In the correspondence, the detainees also stressed that they had been in contact with “government-appointed lawyers” and urged their families not to visit them. They asked their families to refrain from speaking to media.

The letters are the first communication between the protesters and their families since the arrests around 90 days ago.

Read more: Protester among the 12 Hongkongers detained in Shenzhen has battled depression for years: Reports

And although the families identified the handwriting in the letters, there is doubt over the authenticity of the mail.

According to the Save 12 group, the use of simplified Chinese (as opposed to the traditional characters used in Hong Kong) in some of the letters, as well as some wording more commonly used in mainland China, suggests that mainland authorities forced the detainees to pen positive words in accordance with a template.

This week marks three months since the 12 Hongkongers were captured and held by Chinese authorities while fleeing to Taiwan by speedboat.

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