Interview: 'I Kept Wanting to Stay And Do a Bit More'

An award-winning journalist who investigated police violence during the 2019 protest movement flees to the democratic island of Taiwan.

Interview: 'I Kept Wanting to Stay And Do a Bit More'

Wu Gin, a Hong Kong journalist who recently won a Human Rights Press Award for writing about a witness to a police attack on civilians during the 2019 protest movement, has fled to the democratic island of Taiwan.

His winning article was based on an interview with someone who was inside Prince Edward MTR station on the night of Aug. 31, 2019, when police in full riot gear were filmed charging onto trains and beating up unarmed and cowering passengers -- some of whom were wearing the black of the protest movement.

The authorities have dismissed as "rumors" unconfirmed reports of deaths on that night. His eyewitness didn't see anyone die, but testified that there were definitely savage and bloody beatings, with victims denied prompt medical attention.

Wu, 23, whose DBChannel used social media to publish cutting-edge journalism, said he regarded his Merit in the Human Rights Press Awards with a certain sense of irony.

"It is ironic, because I actually have more human rights [than Hong Kong journalists] since winning the award," he said.

There were a number of factors behind his decision to leave the city of his birth.

Wu said his bank account was recently frozen, and that he had been followed by unidentified personnel since the end of 2020.

A group of 10 police officers visited his home after he interviewed David Missal, a German national expelled from China in 2018 after filming the work of human rights lawyers, he said.

Wu was also followed after he interviewed a former 2019 protester, now overseas, and even his relatives overseas received phone calls from individuals telling them to put pressure on Wu to quit.

"All of that prepared me psychologically to be arrested at some point," he said, adding that journalists can be accused at any time of breaking the national security law imposed on Hong Kong by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from July 1, 2020.

Review of past work

Wu looked over some of his past work, and figured it could garner him up to seven years' imprisonment under the law, which bans public speech that is critical of the Hong Kong authorities or the CCP.

"The case of the 47 [opposition politicians] under the national security law was pretty horrific," Wu said, in an apparent reference to marathon bail hearings in which defendants were stuck in court for days on end.

"I had always thought I would leave, but I kept wanting to stay and do a bit more," he said. "Until the case of the 47."

"That was a real wake-up call for me, and a lot of my friends have now left. I was the only one left out of my circle of friends," Wu said.

"They would all want me to leave, but I was penniless and couldn't afford the plane ticket," he said. Eventually, one friend bought it for him out of concern for Wu's safety.

"So many people have been arrested under the national security law, but nobody cares about them now," he said, citing the case of online radio show host Giggs.

"Ask yourself how many people are really paying attention [to his case] now," Wu said. "Were there long lines outside the court when he appeared for a hearing? No."

"I have been exploring what I can do [from here] to contribute to Hong Kong," he says of his plans for life in Taiwan. "I might do more interviews that would be helpful to Hong Kong."

Wu said he hopes to be worthy of his identity as a Hongkonger, even in exile, and will continue to run his DBChannel journalism platform.

He said he expects more journalists to leave the city in future.

Wu founded DBChannel nearly two years ago. His co-founder Frankie Fung is already in prison.

"There was a point at which DBChannel went bankrupt, and lots of people were encouraging me, saying I should keep going with it," he said.
"A lot of those people are now in prison."

Reported by Fong Tak Ho for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

Source : Radio Free Asia More   

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No Holds Barred: Myanmar Junta Grabs Family Members to Get at Wanted Protesters

One critic likened the hostage-taking tactic to “the work of a terror gang."

No Holds Barred: Myanmar Junta Grabs Family Members to Get at Wanted Protesters

Facing unrelenting popular resistance to military rule three months after they ousted the elected government , Myanmar’s junta has increasingly turned to hostage taking – grabbing family members to force wanted opponents to surrender, legal experts and rights activists said Thursday. 

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Myanmar, a Thailand-based NGO that gas tracked more than 770 killings of civilians and more than 3,700 arrests since the Feb. 1 army takeover, has also document 40 people who have been taken hostage by the military to get at opponent of the junta or supporters of the shadow government.

The well-known film actor couple Pyay Ti Oo and his Aindra Kyaw Zin are now in detention at Shwe Pyi Tha Interrogation camp, charged with incitement under Section 50(a) of the Penal Code, after turning themselves in to protect their children, a friend told RFA.

“They (police and soldiers) asked the family to call them back. They threatened to arrest the children and family if they don't show up,” said a source close to the couple.

Families of members of the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) of work stoppages by professionals including teachers, civil servants, bankers and doctors are a major target, as are relatives of supporters of the new National Unity Government (NUG), made up of ousted lawmakers and ethnic minority leaders.

In the Mandalay region of central Myanmar, the military and police raided the home of a schoolteacher involved in the anti-military movement and arrested her mother and younger brother, a second bother said.

"She is a school teacher who had joined the CDM. About 40 soldiers and police raided the house one day without any arrest warrant being issued. And our mother and brother were arrested because they could not find her,” he told RFA.

Soldiers also searched the home of Yan Naing Lin, an electrician in the Bago Division of central Myanmar, seizing his wife, mother and brother without releasing them for about three weeks, he said from hiding.

"I haven’t been able to contact them since April 15th. I can’t find out where they are detained. Their main thing is to get me. I don’t know whether they will release my family or not if I surrender,” Yan Naing Lin told RFA.

Illegal everywhere

The military has accused him of making a hand grenade, he said, adding that he is unable to produce evidence to support his innocence and he isn’t sure his family would be released even if he cooperates.

According to local media reports, incidents of hostage-taking have become more frequent, with most of those detained to force the surrender of a wanted relative remaining in custody.

Khin Maung Zaw, one of the lawyers for deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi, said the tactic is illegal everywhere.

"In every country, the law permits action to be taken only against the perpetrator and no one else can be prosecuted in his place,” he told RFA.

Taking hostages to pursue suspects “is not the action of an organization that works with a constitution and existing laws.” Said journalist Si Thu Aung Myint

“It is more like the work of a terror gang," he said.

The brutal crackdown on anyone who has been involved in anti-government protests have driven many demonstrators and NUG supporters into hiding. 

"Ever since we decided to join the CDM, we have considered the consequences,” said a doctor in Mandalay, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“We knew we could lose our jobs, our licenses could be revoked, and we might have to go to jail. We might even get killed. But we never thought our children, our families would be harmed. This is worrisome.”

Security forces walk past shops as they search for protesters, who were taking part in a demonstration against the military coup, in downtown Yangon, May 6, 2021. Credit: AFP

Hindu, Chinese woman killed

The military's actions transcend simple human rights abuses, said Nicky Diamond, of the NGO Fortify Rights.

"Not only are they violating human rights. Their actions are so vicious that they are violating the obligations of the military to protect the people of the country,” he told RFA.

RFA tried to contact Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun to ask about the allegations but reporters phone calls to the junta spokesman went unanswered.

The family of Aung Khaing Myint, 33, were told Wednesday to inspect his body, they told RFA.

“We saw his body at the 1,000 bed hospital in Shwedaung. They said he was arrested in connection with the bombing of Innwa Bank in Sagaing and that he had died after jumping out of the car following the arrest,” said a relative.

“They didn’t show us the whole body – just the face – and we saw beating marks on his cheeks and throat and bruises on his chin,” the family member said.

“We are Hindus and told them we need to hold our religious rites but they refuse to give the body back,” added the bereaved family member

In Mandalay, junta soldiers shot two ethnic Chinese Myanmar nationals who were coming home after getting coronavirus vaccinations at a local hospital, killing one and wounding the other, said witness.

“A passing motorcyclist was showing a three-finger salute and the soldiers fired four shots at him but instead hit the Chinese couple on another motorcycle,” the source said.

“The woman was hit in the face and died on the spot but the guy who got hit near the jawline was taken for medical treatment to Nandwin hospital.  The woman’s body was taken to Chinese Yunnan Temple after an autopsy,” said the witness.

Reported by RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Paul Eckert.

Source : Radio Free Asia More   

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