Various groups in the arts and cultural sector across Hong Kong and Taiwan have signed petitions to express their concern about the recent disappearance of Causeway Bay Books co-owner Lee Bo.

Lee Bo, a shareholder of the Causeway Bay Books, went missing on December 30.
Lee Bo, a shareholder of the Causeway Bay Books, went missing on December 30.

Over a dozen cultural groups in Hong Kong—including Dirty Press, Renaissance Foundation and the Hong Kong House of Literature—have jointly released a statement expressing their concerns towards the incident, which they say appeared to be a case of kidnapping within the borders of Hong Kong.

The groups have also started a petition requesting that culture sector lawmaker Ma Fung-kwok and Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah follow the events closely. They have also asked the SAR government to guarantee citizens’ safety and freedom of publication within Hong Kong’s borders.

“We believe that these acts are a blatant disregard of the rule of law in Hong Kong and evoke an atmosphere of fear in the publishing sector, threatening Hong Kong’s freedom of publication and damaging its reputation as a safe and free city.”

Shenzhen Hong Kong border
Shenzhen-Hong Kong border.

In Taiwan, activist group Taiwan Publish Free has also initiated a petition regarding Lee’s disappearance.

As of Tuesday, over 35 bookstores and a thousand individuals in the cultural sector—including scholars, writers, editors, and journalists—have signed the petition against “acts of oppression against freedom of publication by the Communist Party in China.”

“China in the 21st century has been continuously going backwards in terms of democracy and human rights, which disappoints and frustrates us,” the petition said. “Here, we call for all parties fighting for democracy in Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and Macau to defend our rights to freedom… we should continue to fulfil our duties as a global citizen and pay close attention to the state of human rights and freedom in China, Hong Kong and Macau.”

Established in 1994, Causeway Bay Books is known for its exposes on the scandalous personal lives of Communist Party leaders. The store is popular among mainland tourists keen to buy titles banned in China.

Lee is the fifth person from Hong Kong-based publisher Mighty Current, which owns the store, to disappear in recent months.

Karen cheung hong kong

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.