The Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) in Hong Kong has said that it is troubled by China’s lack of explanation over the mystery of the missing booksellers. It has also called for the “immediate release” of the publishers.
“[We are] concerned that there has yet to be a full and satisfactory explanation of the detention of five Hong Kong booksellers by mainland Chinese authorities despite recent demands and condemnation from around the world, including the United Nations, European Union and the British government,” the FCC said in a statement. “Legitimate concerns are raised over possible breaches of international legal norms and human rights.”
China has yet to divulge more information on the five Hong Kong residents, except for confirming that Lee Bo and Gui Minhai, a British and Swedish national respectively, are in the mainland to assist with investigations. Gui made a televised confession about killing a girl in an accident when driving under the influence of alcohol. China has warned international organisations and governments not to interfere with its domestic affairs.
The FCC was also troubled by the “dismissive response” China gave to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein’s demand for the booksellers to be released. “[It] illustrates China’s contempt for any international organization that dares to criticise its human rights record,” the statement reads.
The FCC said that journalists are also a target of China’s crackdown on lawyers and activists. It says that the Chinese actions send a “chilling” message to Hong Kong people that their rights may not be protected by international pressure on Beijing.
Several international publishing associations, led by Pen America, have also written a letter urging Chief Executive CY Leung to take action over the missing booksellers.
The five co-owners and staff members of Causeway Bay Books and its parent company Mighty Current – which specialises in Chinese political gossip titles – all disappeared late last year. Gui Minhai, a Swedish national, went missing in Thailand last October. During the same month, Lui Por and Lam Wing-kee went missing in Shenzhen, and Cheung Chi-ping went missing in Dongguan. British national Lee Bo disappeared from Hong Kong in December.