On June 16, 2016, Lam Wing-kee, one of the five Causeway Bay booksellers who went missing last fall and later turned up in mainland custody, spoke out publicly and exposed his traumatic eight-month detention by a “Central Special Unit” (中央专案组). During this time, Lam said he was interrogated nearly 30 times without access to a lawyer, and that the televised “confession” he gave on Phoenix Television in February 2016 was coerced and scripted by the authorities.
According to his public statements, Lam was detained when crossing the border into Shenzhen on October 24, 2015, and subsequently blindfolded, handcuffed, and taken to Ningbo, a trip of nearly 14 hours. For five months, Lam was kept in a concrete room under 300 square feet and watched over for 24 hours a day. In April he was transferred to a rented room in Shaoguan, where he stayed until Tuesday, June 14, 2016, when he was finally allowed to return to Hong Kong on the condition that he would return to the mainland with customer records.
Lam’s courageous exposé makes clear this is not a case of local police misconduct. Instead, his ordeal—abduction, illegal detention, and coerced public confession—was the work of the central government, one that has complete contempt for the “one country, two systems policy.” This glaringly highlights the true nature of the central regime.
It is the responsibility of the Hong Kong SAR government and the international community to insure that Lam and other booksellers suffer no further repercussions for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and of the press. In addition, those wrongfully detained are owed an apology and compensation under Chinese law. China’s leaders should get the message—lawless, thug tactics will not succeed to completely silence the truth. There will always be courageous individuals who will speak out and say no to abuse of power.