Family members of the 12 Hongkongers detained in China while attempting to flee to Taiwan have urged local police to disclose details about their loved ones.

Pro-democracy activist Owen Chow, lawmaker Eddie Chu and family members of some of the detainees gathered outside the police headquarters in Wan Chai on Sunday. Chow read out the families’ three requests to Hong Kong government departments.

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Owen Chow and detainee family members. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

These included an account of the date, time, location, arrest process and injuries if any; radar records of the detainee’s speedboat and Hong Kong marine police vessel patrol routes, as well as locations on the day of the incident; for a Hong Kong government representative to be sent to visit the detainees, and for family-appointed lawyers to be granted access to their clients.

Hong Kong police responded saying no mainland Chinese maritime vessels entered Hong Kong waters on August 23 – the date of the detention, Stand News reported. The force said the Marine Regional Command and Control Centre had reviewed the vessel traffic services record but refused to disclose their operational details.

Twelve activists were captured by Guangdong Maritime Police on August 23 while fleeing Hong Kong on a boat to Taiwan’s Kaohsiung. They have been accused of allegedly illegally crossing the border and detained in Yantian District Detention Centre.

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Photo: GovHK.

Leung Kai-chi – China Studies and Journalism lecturer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong – drafted a map on Facebook to visualise China’s maritime baselines. He indicated the location of where the group is thought to have been captured as within the contiguous zone of China’s territorial sea, according to geographical coordinates released by Chinese authorities.

Previously, family-appointed lawyers said they had been denied access to their clients and told alternative lawyers had been chosen instead.

Hong Kong security chief John Lee told reporters the detainees had selected their lawyers from a list provided by Chinese authorities, the contact details of which would be shared with the families.

Two of the detained people are British National (Overseas) passport holders, Citizen News reported.

Responding to an HKFP enquiry about the report, a British Consulate spokesperson said as a general policy: “We will always speak out when we believe that the freedoms of the people of Hong Kong are being undermined and will continue working to uphold their rights.”

In a tweet on Friday, the United Nations Human Rights Commission urged Beijing to ensure due process, including swift access to legal representatives of the detainees’ choice.

Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong started a multilingual global petition which had accumulated more than 40,000 signatories as of Monday morning. It demanded Chinese authorities immediately repatriate the 12 detainees back to Hong Kong.

Rachel Wong previously worked as a documentary producer and academic researcher. She has a BA in Comparative Literature and European Studies from the University of Hong Kong. She has contributed to A City Made by People and The Funambulist, and has an interest in cultural journalism and gender issues.