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

A coast guard ship on Chinese waters. Photo via CGTN
A coast guard ship on Chinese waters. Photo via CGTN

A female protester who has been detained in Shenzhen for two weeks has been battling depression for years and takes medication for it everyday, a relative says.

Speaking to local newspaper Ming Pao in a report published Friday, Tom (an alias) said a spokesperson at Yantian District Detention Center, where Y is being held, informed him that there are antidepressants available at the facility. But he worries about whether the medication is suitable for Y, who has been diagnosed with depression for five to six years.

Tom said the protests last year took a heavy emotional toll on Y, whose mental state only appeared to improve early this year.

Read more: Hong Kong protesters fleeing to Taiwan by boat intercepted, detained by Guangdong authorities: Report

Y is one of 12 Hongkongers currently detained in Shenzhen after a speedboat they were fleeing to Taiwan via was intercepted by Chinese marine police on August 23. They have since been held by mainland Chinese authorities on suspicion of crossing the border illegally.

Tom told Ming Pao that the detention facility would not give him any updates about Y because the authorities could not confirm his identity or relationship to her.

According to reports, human rights lawyers have made several attempts to meet with the Hongkongers but have been barred each time. Tom said a lawyer he had appointed to visit Y was also turned away.

Lu Siwei, the lawyer, told South China Morning Post last Sunday that he went to the center on Friday, hoping to meet Y. “I made a complaint to the authorities, and waited for three hours, but still I had to leave,” he told SCMP.

On Telegram, netizens circulated a medical letter written by a Hong Kong psychiatrist referring a patient suffering from depression circulated. The patient is understood to be Y.

Coconuts Hong Kong reached out to the clinic, and was told it was not aware about the referral letter being shared online, and cannot disclose information about its patients due to privacy concerns.

But SCMP reported that Lu, the lawyer, was representing a female detainee “surnamed Qiao or Kiu,” matching with the Chinese name on the referral letter.

Under mainland Chinese law, people arrested for illegal crossings face imprisonment of not more than a year. But according to reports, some of the detainees are being investigated for organizing others to illegally cross the border, a crime that could lead to up to seven years in jail.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that mainland Chinese authorities had notified Hong Kong of the arrests, but did not answer a reporter’s question about whether the Hong Kong government is taking action to ensure that the legal rights of its citizens are protected.

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