China and Hong Kong: Citizen Arrested for Wearing Political T-Shirt

Li Keqiang, China's current vice premier and premier-to-be, began a three-day visit to Hong Kong on August 16, 2011. On the first day of his visit, Li tried to show concern for Hong Kong people's livelihoods by visiting a center for the elderly and a residential campus in Lam Tin district.

However, Li's “friendly” gesture turned into a performance of political brutality when a male resident was forcibly dragged away and arrested by a number of “men in black”, because he wrote a political T-shirt with the slogan “Vindicate June 4“:

In a television interview, the man said, “I am not protesting. My wife was playing with our kids downstairs. They saw a big crowd in the campus and called me to come down and join them. When I came down from my apartment, suddenly I was surrounded by a group of men in black. Then someone said, ‘take him away’. They dragged me to the corner without telling me what had happened. I live here in flat 26!”

Political T-shirts are casual wear in Hong Kong; probably every one out of 15-20 Hong Kong citizens has a T-shirt with the slogan “Vindicate June 4″, as the city has been organizing the annual June 4 candlelight vigil to commemorate the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 for 22 years now, with tens of thousands of people attending every year.

Doctor fat posts two sets of T-shirt designs based on June 4 in his blog [zh]:

June 4 T-shirts. Image by Doctor Fat.

June 4 T-shirts. Image by Doctor Fat.

One can imagine how the scene of a male resident being “kidnapped” from his own neighborhood because of a political T-shirt has outraged the local community.

To justify the operation, the Hong Kong government quickly issued a press statement [zh] claiming that the male resident was on the police's wanted list due a traffic incident back which took place in 2006.

River crab” banquet delivered to Hong Kong

Local blogger Kursk is angry with the situation and wrote a post titled “If you don't want to see June 4 T-shirts, go back to Beijing!” [zh]:

這是一件十分嚴重的事件,一定要追究。香港幾時禁止著六四t-shi rt架?果度仲要係私人住宅黎架大佬。特區警察同公安有咩分別呀 ?仲有,抬佢走既人冇表示身份,更加冇表示行使緊乜野法律權力,理論上係非法禁錮,係嚴重侵犯人權既做法。
呢班黑衣人究竟係G4定係北京既國安?如果係前者,就係特區政府泛用武力既 問題,一定要投訴去監警會同立法會保安事務委員會;如果係後者, 事態就嚴重百倍--大陸國安黎香港既私人住宅區向只係著住六四T -shirt既香港人施行武力,呢個唔只係一國兩制不保既問題,而係國 安南下香港鎮壓言論自由。

This is a very serious incident and we should demand an explanation. Since when have “Vindicate June 4 T-shirts” been banned? The spot is a private residential campus. What is the different between Hong Kong SAR police and mainland police? They took action without identifying themselves, and nor did they explain according to which law they were excising power. In theory, this is illegal detention in violation of his human rights.
Am I exaggerating? Please imagine, if, one day, 4-5 men dressed in black suddenly dragged you away. They could be from a triad, or kidnappers or mainland police excising their power across the border. Wouldn't you be scared?
This group of men-in-black, are they from the Hong Kong police force's G4 department [political department], or are they Beijing police? If the former, then this is a case of abusive power by the SAR police force and we should complain to the police monitor council and the Security Panel of the Legislative Council. If the latter case, then the situation is 100 times more worrisome. It signifies not only the end of One Country, Two Systems, but the mainland police coming to Hong Kong to repress our freedom in expression.

Upon his arrival, Li Keqiang claimed that he had brought some good news (a set of favorable policies that would enhance Hong Kong economy). Journalist and blogger, Those were the days, describes the “gift set” as “a river-crab banquet” [zh]. The term “river crab” is a slang for “harmonious society“.


Yesterday is the first day of vice premier Li Keqiang's visit. Only the first course in the Beijing-style “river crab banquet” of cracking down on dissent has been served. Hong Kong people will have a real taste of it in the future.

Police's wanted list?

Martinoei explains [zh] the police's strategy in covering up their illegal arrest:


In order to cover up their ridiculous action, the police said the guy was on their wanted list for a traffic incident. That's why they had to arrest him.
First of all, it is impossible for the police to identify him on first sight. Moreover, it is extremely easy for someone to be listed as a wanted person, such as if you forget to pay an illegal parking fine.


In the case of being “wanted” because of illegal parking, all you have to do is to pay the fine on the spot. This guy with the “Vindicate June 4 T-shirt”, the fact that he can walk out from the police station without bail is probably because he paid his HKD320 [less than USD50] fine to get himself unlisted from the wanted persons list. This is the most ridiculous cover-up. Please get back to the real issue of whether the mainland national security police have indeed been operating in Hong Kong.

In the discussion thread on Martinoei's post, netizen Newbie said:

感覺上, 中國人普遍非常認同呢種”非法逮捕”, 對果種所謂過程唔合法就應該導致証據無效既思想非常薄弱.
即係合唔合法都好, 先拉人進行大搜查外加嚴刑迫供, 只要最後搵到蛛絲馬跡証明被捕者可能犯咗小小法, 整個過程就馬上變成 “合法合情合理” 了. 當個個人都認同呢種思想時, 我係差佬我都濫權喇!
呢個民族, 根本無決心付出某啲代價去平衡權力, 唔搞到 xx 霸權當道就有鬼喇!

It seems to me that many Chinese accept such kind of “illegal arrest” and they do not disregard the evidences gathered under illegal procedure.
Which means, they can arrest and torture someone, and with just a tiny scrap of evidence of a minor offense, the whole process becomes “legal, reasonable and justified”. If everyone accepts this, of course the police will do whatever they want.
Chinese people are unwilling to pay the price for balance of power, that's why the XX hegemony [note: probably refers to the Chinese Communist Party] is so dominating.

Magiccello said:

香港公安學習能力真高. 強國的手段學會了. 維穩辦主任曾偉雄好快又升官發財了.

Hong Kong police are learning from their mainland counterparts in strengthening the nation. Tsang Wai Hung, the head of the stability maintenance office, will be promoted very soon.

The incident has been widely discussed on Facebook, and many users claimed that they would wear political T-shirts and walk around on the street during Li Keqiang's visit in Hong Kong. The University of Hong Kong Centenary Ceremony on August 18, 2011, will probably be another occasion for the display of political T-shirts (see the Facebook Event [zh]).


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