Hong Kong democracy protester ‘detained’ briefly by Border Force as artists counter Beijing

A Hong Kong pro-democracy student activist says she was targeted by Australian Border Force officials and briefly detained upon her arrival in Melbourne this week.

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Hong Kong democracy protester ‘detained’ briefly by Border Force as artists counter Beijing

By Liam Cochrane and Erin Handley


A woman looks past the camera as she stands in an empty auditorium with purple seats.

PHOTO: Ms Leung alleges that the Australian Border Force singled her out and searched through her phone upon her arrival in Melbourne. (ABC News: Erin Handley)

RELATED STORY: Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announces major backdown on controversial law

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RELATED STORY: Chinese dissidents accuse NGV of stifling free speech over refusal to host pro-democracy talk

A Hong Kong pro-democracy student activist says she was targeted by Australian Border Force officials and briefly detained upon her arrival in Melbourne this week.

Key points:

  • Hong Kong activist said Border Force officials went through photos on her phone
  • Carrie Lam officially withdrew the extradition bill that sparked three months of protests
  • But speakers at a controversial “Be Water” event in Melbourne said the fight was far from over

Zoey Leung is one of three Hong Kong students visiting Australia as part of a delegation designed to shore up global support for their pro-democracy cause.

She told the ABC that two male Border Force officers singled her out, questioned her for half an hour, and went through photos on her phone and social media accounts.

“I got detained by the Border Force police,” she said.

“They claimed there are riots in Hong Kong nowadays and they asked me about my intention to come to Australia … they asked me if I kept any weapons in my luggage.

“They asked me to unlock my cell-phone to check those photos and some social media.”

How Hong Kong’s frontliners are outfoxing the police

How Hong Kong's frontliners are outfoxing the police

Like a flash mob, they appear and then dissolve back into the city once their task is complete.

Ms Leung, the vice-president of the Hong Kong Baptist University student union, said she thought she was targeted.

“I am angry, because I feel like those police have a political stance towards the Hong Kong movement, and because of that, they seem to restrict my freedom to travel, my freedom of movement,” Ms Leung said.

Australian academic Clive Hamilton, author of Silent Invasion about Chinese influence in Australia, said he was “very shocked” by Ms Leung’s account.

“I’m ashamed that my country should treat Zoey this way,” he said.

“Here we have some pro-democracy activists arriving on the shores of Australia, and they’re treated as if they’re terrorists.”

The Australian Border Force told the ABC in a statement that “travellers from Hong Kong are not being singled out for extraordinary identity and baggage checks”.

They said searching the contents of luggage and phones was “common practice” to confirm the identity of an individual and ensure “their intention for travel matches their approved purpose”.

“ABF officers routinely request travel documentation from incoming passengers at the border and will occasionally conduct routine searches,” ABF said.

“Routine checks conducted under the Customs Act may include checking the belongings of travellers coming into Australia. This may include baggage and electronic devices.

“These checks help us to confirm the identity of individuals, their purpose for travel and ensure travellers are not bringing in items or digital content restricted under the Customs Act.

“Our officers are professional and treat all travellers with dignity and respect and in accordance with the law.”

Hongkongers ‘not easily fooled’

Badiucao and Denise Ho wave a flag.

PHOTO: Badiucao and Denise Ho wave a flag inspired by Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement. (Supplied)

Mr Hamilton’s remarks came during a heavily policed event in Melbourne featuring dissident Chinese artist Badiucao and Hong Kong singer and pro-democracy activist Denise Ho.

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Take a look at how Hong Kong’s near-200-year history has shaped the territory while prompting the largest protests in its history.

The pair said their event had been rejected by nine venues due to security concerns, including the National Gallery of Victoria, which is currently hosting the terracotta warriors exhibition.

Past demonstrations on Australian soil, including in major cities and universities, have seen heated exchanges and scuffles break out between pro-Hong Kong and pro-Beijing camps.

Badiucao accused the NGV of “self-censoring”after it declined to host the “Be Water” event, which was held at the Melbourne City Conference Centre.

What began as protests against an extradition bill that could see Hongkongers sent to mainland China to face trial has morphed into existential demonstrations about the future of the territory, which was handed over to China from the British in 1997 and operates under a “one country, two systems” framework.

In the hours leading up to the seminar, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam formally withdrew the extradition bill, but protesters have made four other demands — for the Government to stop calling protests “riots”; the release of arrested protesters; an independent inquiry into the actions of police; and universal suffrage.

Denise Ho speaks in front of an image of a person waving a Hong Kong flag

PHOTO: Hong Kong singer and pro-democracy activist Denise Ho said the peaceful protests had been met with police brutality. (Supplied)

Ms Ho said the tactical move from the Government was too little, too late.

“Hong Kong people are not that easily fooled,” she said.

“We do not consider this as any kind of victory, because this is still a very critical situation in Hong Kong.

“We have seen police brutality escalating to an unprecedented situation.”

She said she knew the risks of speaking out, including being “disappeared”.

“I would prefer to be arrested in Hong Kong rather than be extradited to China,” she said.

The art of satire

Artist Badiucao stands in front of the National Gallery of Victoria

PHOTO: Artist Badiucao stands in front of the National Gallery of Victoria, which declined hosting his joint event on Hong Kong and China. (ABC News: Alan Weedon)

Cartoonist Badiucao, who worked anonymously in Australia but unmasked himself on the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre this year, said satire was vital to his activist art.

巴丢草 Badiucao@badiucao

Horrifying night for Hong Kong.
So desperate when cartooning can not catch up with the absurdity and brutality of the HK police and government.
All I can do is just copying from reality.

港警无差别在地铁袭击市民,白色恐怖蔓延。#freedomHK #antiELAB #antiELABhk #FreedomHongKong

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1,32712:49 PM – Sep 1, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy944 people are talking about this

“Sometimes I can be a lazy artist — I like to do Carrie Lam, because I don’t need to do a lot on her face. You know why? Because she basically does not have facial expressions … she is a puppet of Beijing,” he said.

“I don’t really want to hurt her, but at least we can make fun of her.”

He said images of distraught people cowering after an attack on a train rendered his work powerless in capturing the trauma inflicted on Hongkongers.

“This is a humanitarian crisis we’re facing right now,” he said.

“It’ not just a wrestling between different ideologies or political systems — it’s fundamentally damaging the people there.”

A watercolour illustration of Carrie Lam with glasses and a popped eyeball sits in a transparent wooden frame.

PHOTO: In the hours leading up to the seminar, Carrie Lam announced the formal withdrawal of the extradition bill. (ABC News: Erin Handley)

Professor Hamilton said it was “outrageous” that public universities and institutions had “capitulated” to Beijing instead of providing a space for the expression of democracy and human rights.

“I don’t think the analogy with Nazi Germany is an inappropriate one,” he said, in terms of countries turning a “blind eye or actively collaborated in the rise of tyranny”.

“For the protesters, these months in 2019 will define their lives … they are being forged in this battle,” he added.

“If they fail, the will have tried. They will have risked their futures — risked their lives — and we cannot ask more of anyone than that.”

‘I have to be careful’

A man with tinted brown hair places a lime post it note with Chinese characters written on it.

PHOTO: Don Poon adds a post-it note to a Lennon Wall calling for all five protesters’ demands to be heard. (ABC News: Erin Handley)

One of the attendees, a Hongkonger who gave his first name as Barry, said he was covering his face with reflective aviators and a black mask because he feared retribution for him and his family in mainland China.

<img src="https://www.abc.net.au/news/image/11479630-3×2-340×227.jpg" alt="A man in a face-mask, aviator sunglasses and a cap that reads 'I

PHOTO: Pro-democracy supporter Barry told the ABC pro-Beijing “infiltrators” may jeopardise his identity. (ABC News: Erin Handley)

He said he was concerned pro-Beijing “infiltrators” might take his photo and that he’d be recognisable to authorities.

“I have to be careful,” he said.

“Anyone who is participating in any protest, as soon as you step inside China, you’ll be questioned or maybe even detained. And that’s the risk.

“The Hong Kong police is really horrible at the moment, and you don’t know what they will do … It’s getting unpredictable.”

Don Poon affixed a Post-it note at the event’s Lennon Wall, calling for Hong Kong to be supported and for the protesters’ five demands to be heard.

“I really want for peace and democracy to be restored in Hong Kong,” he said.

YOUTUBE: Four Corners – Rebellion: On the frontlines of Hong Kong’s uprising

SOURCE: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-09-05/be-water-event-in-melbourne-denise-ho-badiucao/11479008