Students from universities and organisations across Hong Kong have protested near the Singaporean consulate against the government’s detention of a teenage blogger who criticised the country’s late prime minister Lee Kwan Yew.
Sixteen-year-old Amos Yee was convicted last month of posting a video criticising Lee, the country’s first prime minister, who died in March. Earlier this month, Yee was committed to a mental health institution, a move that was criticised by human rights observers including the United Nations Human Rights Office.
According to Hong Kong University’s Students’ Union, the main organisers of the event, around 50 people attended the protest outside Singapore’s consulate in Admiralty on Tuesday.
The rally also included students from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University, Lingnan, Hong Kong Polytechnic and others. Student group Scholarism also attended the event, and the group confirmed that protesters would hand over a letter and petition addressed to the country’s current prime minister Lee Hsien Loong – Lee Kwan Yew’s son – calling for Yee’s release.
The protest was originally meant to take place outside the Singaporean Consulate in Admiralty. However, HKUSU vice-president Colman Li Fung-kei told HKFP the area outside the consulate was not big enough to accommodate 50 people. The protesters had to set up a demonstration area near the entrance of Admiralty station.
Asked why the protest was important Li Fung-kei said: “Freedom of speech – [whether it is] in Hong Kong or Singapore – is very important. More importantly, Amos Yee is also a teenager like us. He has some opposing views… and is criticising the leader, however he is oppressed by the government; it infringes his human rights.
“We try to fight for democracy in Hong Kong, but the government oppresses our freedoms, tries to stop us opposing [political] development. That’s why we think that as peers we have the responsibility to stand up for that.”
Yesterday, Yee’s mother Mary Toh published a Facebook post apologising to her son for telling him to be a law abiding citizen and not teaching him well.
Yee was convicted of two charges on May 12: one of wounding religious feelings of Christians, the other of uploading an obscene image with the faces of Lee and former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher attached to it. After refusing to see his assigned probation officer, Yee was remanded to prison on June 2.
On Tuesday 23 June the court heard Yee may be suffering from autism spectrum disorder. However, his father Alphonsus Yee said the teenager was never assessed for mental illness, according to The Straits Times.
The judge remanded Yee for two weeks to the Institute of Mental Health for assessment of his mental health.
Last week the United Nations Human Rights Office for Southeast Asia issued a statement calling for Yee’s immediate release. The statement said the Singaporean authorities’ treatment of the 16-year-old was “disproportionate and inappropriate in terms of the international protections for freedom of expression and opinion”.
Yee’s next hearing will take place on July 6, when the court will decide whether Yee will have to undergo compulsory psychiatric treatment.