Hongkongers buy discontinued M&M’s for jailed activists amid inflexible rules for approved visitation items

Prisoners rights’ group Wall-fare received more than a thousand 40g M&M’s packets after posting a request online. Photos via Facebook/Wall-fare
Prisoners rights’ group Wall-fare received more than a thousand 40g M&M’s packets after posting a request online. Photos via Facebook/Wall-fare

Hongkongers are rushing to buy M&M’s for jailed activists amid a change in the chocolate company’s packaging, which is yet to be reflected in the Correctional Services Department (CSD)’s strict list of approved items for inmate visitation.

Wall-fare, a prisoners’ rights group, issued a call on Facebook Wednesday for donations of 40g packets of M&M’s, which have recently been discontinued and replaced by the new 37g packets.

M&M’s confirmed with Coconuts that the company has stopped importing 40g packets earlier this year, and that most of the distributors have begun selling the 37g packets this month.

But the CSD has not updated its “Approved Hand-in Articles” list, which still refers to the old 40g M&M’s packets.

On Facebook, the group said it is running out 40g M&M’s packets and encouraged Hongkongers to donate any that they are able to get their hands on.

Wall-fare told Coconuts that the group had received more than a thousand M&M’s packets as of Thursday morning.

Read more: Hong Kong activist faints in court, three others sent to hospital as national security law trial wraps up past 2am

While families and friends can deliver items to inmates during visitation, they must adhere to CSD’s stringent list, which only allows certain brands of snacks, stationery and toiletries to be brought in. 

For example, only two types of candy are permitted—M&M’s and gummy sweets from a Japanese brand. Specifically, the M&M’s must be either the yellow or black 40g packets.M&M’s that come in packages that are a different color, or a different weight, would be rejected. 

Besides material support, Wall-fare also provides mental support to the detained activists and pairs them up with penpals who write letters to them regularly.

On Valentine’s Day, the group also sent flowers to the activists’ loved ones on their behalf.

A total of 47 pro-democracy activists were charged with subversion under the national security law in February, marking the authorities’ harshest use of the sweeping legislation since it was passed.  

“All matters in the prison [are] important. M&M’s chocolates might seem insignificant to many of us, but they are the only chocolates for persons in custody. The colourful little button-shaped candies also carry in them the love from the families,” Wall-fare wrote in a Facebook post.

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