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Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg has just joined the campaign demanding the release of 12 Hongkongers who have been arrested and detained in mainland China. On Twitter, Thunberg wrote that “12 is more than a number” and nominated a number of other prominent youth climate activists to back the cause to return the group of democracy activists back to Hong Kong.
Posting an image of herself holding a whiteboard with the message “#SAVE12HKYOUTHS”, the famous teenage environmental activist that has become the face of the global student strikes for climate action Fridays for Future has become the latest in a growing group of international figures demanding the release of 12 Hong Kong democracy activists who have been detained in Shenzhen, China since their arrest at sea.
Thunberg, as part of the campaign initiated by founder of human rights organisation Hong Kong Watch Benedict Rogers and activist Joey Siu, also nominated three other student climate activists to join the calls to save the group of 12 Hong Kong youths, including Berlin-based Luisa Neubauer, Ugandan striker Nakabuye Hilda F. and Jamie Margolin, founder of Zero Hour. Thunberg herself was nominated by Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong.
The 12 Hong Kong youths were arrested earlier last month at sea while fleeing to Taiwan and have since been held by mainland Chinese judicial authorities at Shenzhen’s Yantian People’s Procuratorate on suspicion of illegal border crossing. Two of the 12 are facing an even more serious charge of allegedly organising the act.
They have so far had no access to legal representatives of their own choosing and have been prevented from meeting lawyers that their respective families have attempted to secure for them.
Recently, pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, including Wong, reported that they have obtained documents showing that the Hong Kong police were involved in a mission by the Government Flying Service to track the speedboat with the 12 youths before it was intercepted by mainland authorities.
“The 12 Hong Kong youths detained in Shenzhen is a watershed case for Hong Kong, which will influence whether the extradition of pro-democracy activists to stand trial in the mainland becomes a common occurrence,” the organisers of the #save12hkyouths movement wrote.
“If the Chinese authorities are allowed to prosecute and imprison Hong Kong activists on the mainland with little outcry or response from the international community, Beijing will take this as a signal that it can use the national security law as a pretext to extradite other Hong Kong activists to stand trial.”
Thunberg has previously lent her support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement when thousands of citizens in the city defied the new national security law by taking to the streets, writing on Twitter that her “thoughts are with the people of Hong Kong”.
Lead image courtesy of Greta Thunberg / Twitter.