A group of families - some of them sobbing - appealed for help Saturday in getting their relatives released. Mainland Chinese authorities detained their activist relatives last month as they tried to flee the city by boat to Taiwan. Hong Kong media say the activists were seeking political asylum.
At a news conference, their relatives wore masks and hats to shield their identities.
Speaking in Cantonese, one detainee's mother, whose son needs allergy medicine, said, “I hope Hong Kong can help the detainees come back… We don’t even know if he is dead or alive.”
The local government’s office in Guangdong said the 12 detainees are in what it called “good physical condition and have hired representatives FROM mainland lawyers.”
But Hong Kong lawmaker James To said their right to legal representation was being undermined.
“It’s only right that the Hong Kong government should discuss with the mainland authority so that the Hong Kong person’s legal right under the mainland law should be respected. It’s very unusual that the mainland lawyers appointed by their relatives, their family members, are persuaded to withdraw from those cases. It’s very unusual.”
The arrests come as a sweeping new national security law imposed by Beijing in July takes full effect.
Earlier this week, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said if the detainees had been arrested for breaking mainland law, then they - quote - "have to be dealt with according to the mainland laws.”