Relatives and supporters of 12 Hongkongers detained on the mainland after allegedly trying to flee the city by speedboat, staged a protest on Saturday on an island near the prison in Shenzhen where they had been kept for several months.
Around a dozen people hiked to the peak of Kat O, one of Hong Kong’s northernmost islands, where they were able catch a glimpse of the Yantian Detention Centre across the sea.
There, they peeked though their binoculars and raised banners reading “Save 12” and “Come Home”.
The group also wrote the names of the detainees on balloons before releasing them into the sky, while chanting slogans demanding their immediate and safe return.
The 12 were reportedly captured by the Chinese coastguard on August 23 aboard a speedboat believed to be bound for Taiwan.
All of them were charged with or suspected of offences connected to the anti-government protests of last year.
Tsuen Wan District Councillor Lester Shum, who has been assisting the families of the detainees, said even though some of the families received handwritten letters from their loved ones last week claiming they were well, the letters appeared to have been written under duress.
Shum called for transparency into the case, and for mainland officials to allow the relatives to meet the detainees directly, and to hire lawyers for them.
During the protest, several police officers appeared and warned the group of breaching social distancing rules.
While no penalty tickets were given out, several of the protesters and reporters at the scene were warned and had their personal details taken down.