Problems with political prisoners

A juxtaposition of SCMP headlines shows how, in just 11 short months, Hong Kong’s prison service has changed. What had been a confident and manly institution embracing rapid-fire guns and expanding shields has become a panic-stricken wreck, petrified of chocolate and hairpins. The city’s justice and penal system is still learning how to handle prisoners of conscience.

The Washington Post highlights the plight of American lawyer Samuel Bickett, convicted of assaulting a police officer who had refused to identify himself while beating a young man in an MTR station… 

“To commit this crime, you have to have actual knowledge that he’s a police officer,” Bickett said. “And there’s a video of this guy saying he is not a police officer.”

Among other subjects in the (possibly paywalled) WaPo piece: the likelihood that prisons will become less transparent and fair as they clampdown on their own ‘civil society’ of political prisoners (often seen by other inmates as heroes); the extent to which the police are now in practice above the law; and the hypersensitivity of the police and Justice Dept in response to press queries.

The NatSec regime faces a challenge in calibrating how harshly to deal with the American (not the first US lawyer it has arrested and bailed). If it thought Bickett would keep quiet and let things slide when he was let out of jail to appeal, it was wrong. The system has picked on someone who takes a stand (like Chow Hang-tung or the ladies at Lo Wu Correctional Institution)…

I feel such a responsibility to speak out. Many of my fellow Hongkongers will never get this sort of attention for their case. If the Police are doing this to me, despite all my privilege, then what they’re doing to the powerless and voiceless is much worse.

(Link to YouTube video of the incident. )

The NatSec scriptwriters now have to make a choice: back off and admit the cops were in the wrong that day in the MTR, or do the classic Crush Without Mercy psycho-Leninist thing on this guy and have it all over the US press.

Meanwhile, it’s time for the NatSec regime to come for the charities.

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18 Responses to Problems with political prisoners

  1. curried spam says:

    “The NatSec scriptwriters now have to make a choice: back off and admit the cops were in the wrong that day in the MTR, or do the classic Crush Without Mercy psycho-Leninist thing on this guy…”

    File that under “easiest decision of their day”.

  2. Chinese Netizen says:

    “The NatSec scriptwriters now have to make a choice: back off and admit the cops were in the wrong that day in the MTR, or do the classic Crush Without Mercy psycho-Leninist thing on this guy and have it all over the US press.”

    Allow me to borrow the tired phrase: “This is a no brainer.” (If for nothing else than to ingratiate themselves to the CCP for the ongoing Miss Huawei saga)

  3. donkey says:

    They will not back down.

    Simple reason why is: even though they know that they are in the wrong, admitting wrong then opens them up again to having to disclose that they were in the wrong for the yuen long attacks, for the mtr prince edward attacks, for the lack of warrant cards, for all the other indiscretions that have haunted them since day one of the social tensions in Hong Kong.

    It’s abundantly clear at this point that the CCP is no longer running way from or barring foreign enemies, or decrying their existence, it’s now in a life battle for itself. You only see this kind of behavior when the leviathan can’t sustain itself. I am not being hyperbolic. The only thing that has ever beaten back fascism and the communist ideology is truth. and more of that truth is coming to light. The CCP is the prototypical vampire backing away from the light. It will consume itself. Thanks be to god!

  4. Ho Ma Fan says:

    I think that Pope Innocent will probably correct me, but unless you use a capital letter, I don’t think He can hear you. Thanks be to God!

  5. Toph says:

    Americans are too wrapped up in their petty fights about whether masks are an infringement of their constitutional rights or whether trans people should be allowed into public toilets. Many of them will look at Mr. Bickett’s plight and shrug that he deserved what he got for being stupid enough to intervene in a fight in a communist country. Half the comments under the WaPo article were complaints that they had published this story at all. The Americans have just lost a two decade war. They’re angry, divided, incapable of basic governance in two thirds of their states, and functionally useless for the foreseeable future.

    Bickett will get thrown under the bus. And it will back up over him for emphasis.

  6. YTSL says:

    @donkey: I so hope you’re right. The thing is that people have been predicting the CCP’s demise for decades now. How much closeer is it to happening now?

    @Toph: Bickett may well get thrown under the bus. But I applaud him for trying to speak and stand up for himself and others — and against injustice in Hong Kong — before that all the same. Speaking of which, here are some Tweets from him in the wake of the news of prisoners rights group Wall-fare’s folding:

    “When I was in prison, encouraging letters from supporters were just as critical as food and water to my survival. Wallfare was the organization through which most of them were sent—which is why the police are forcing them to shut down.

    “I want people to understand how utterly cruel it is for the Police to now be targeting Wallfare. This is an organization that simply tries to provide prisoners with their basic needs—letters, shampoo, m&ms—all of which they are legally entitled to.

    “We all know the police who rule this city do not care about the law or fundamental rights. But the raw cruelty here is extraordinary, even for them. Denying letters & shampoo to already-suffering prisoners: this is the face of these brutes that the world must see.”

  7. Penny says:

    “Half the comments under the WaPo article were complaints that they had published this story at all.”
    How many of those comments/complaints come from CCP stooges?

  8. Toph says:

    Obvious CCP defenders made up a minority of the complainers, most of them were accusing WaPo of nefarious motives in highlighting a guy on the other side of the planet instead of worthier domestic causes. I don’t know, perhaps the trolls have gotten subtler.

    Most of the rest were simply more interested in using the article as a jumping off point to argue about American prison conditions and police brutality. A year ago they would have been using this article to argue about Trump.

    Of those supportive of Bickett, most posted simplistic “China/communism is bad” comments. You can’t expect the American public to engage meaningfully with anything beyond their borders. They don’t know jack and make everything about them.

    That said, what Bickett is doing is admirable. Even more so that his own employer and government didn’t give a shit.

  9. HKJC Irregular says:

    @Toph + @Penny
    “How many of those comments/complaints come from CCP stooges?”
    – Exactly. You have to factor in the brigades of wumao…

  10. justsayin says:

    I wonder if the WaPo will get muzzled by pressure to Amazon.

  11. Low Profile says:

    @Toph and Penny – if online comments were representative of the general population, the world would be in even deeper trouble than it is. But eliminate the trolls and the 50-centers, and you can often find some truly thoughtful comments – as here, for example.

  12. donkey says:

    @justsayin

    No.

  13. Penny says:

    @Toph – Regardless of what any of the WaPo commentators think – or anyone else for that matter – I totally agree that what Bickett is doing is admirable. Even if he is subjected to the “Crush Without Mercy psycho-Leninist thing” he is being true to himself while also speaking out on behalf of other victims of the current oppressive and vindictive regime.

  14. Chinese Netizen says:

    I really hope Bickett’s situation becomes cause celebre in Washington but with the American attention span of gnats and the possibility of his plight being a podium for the likes of Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, and the rest of the tRump cling-ons, it doesn’t bode well.

    Just slam more sanctions on more HKCCPSAR “heavyweights” and officials.

    justsayin said: “I wonder if the WaPo will get muzzled by pressure to Amazon.”
    I doubt it as Amazon doesn’t really derive any benefits from the CCPChina market (other than vendors that sell). That’s Jack Ma’s market (ha ha!)

  15. Mary Melville says:

    Crack down on charities is the latest absurdity. HK has a whopping 10,000 registered. An astonishing number for a community of less than 7.5m.
    It is not difficult to induce that many of them are scams, tax dodgers, fronts for various clandestine activities, etc. There have been numerous reports about the high salaries and disbursements at some of the more ‘prestigious’ NGOs. Some have no compunction about biting the hand that feeds them when it comes to JR to avoid paying even legitimate taxes. Sheng Kung Hui’s sued when tax was billed on the profits from developing its former orphanage site into Deerhill Bay. And regrettably won on appeal because, until recently, the Judiciary considered property rights to be sacrosanct.
    The transitional housing scheme is only the latest made in heaven opportunity for developers and charities to co-operate to milk the system.
    Some in the community consider private hospitals, international schools and private educational foundations as nothing more than commercial enterprises masquerading as do gooders at the expense of the public purse.
    Have we heard our legislators demanding reforms to the many loopholes in the system that facilitates the transfer of substantial resources that could be spent on genuine community needs to the pockets of charlatans?
    When are we going to see disbursements to the needy from the Nina Wang Chinachem estate?
    If 1% of the time and resources spent on NS had been devoted to genuine unresolved issues some of the disturbances in the community in recent years could have been avoided.

  16. so says:

    Anyone can establish a charity in HK if they follow the IRD rules. The trick then, is for a company to make a tax-deductible donation to the charity, which can use the money to subscribe for shares in the company.

  17. justsayin says:

    @donkey
    @chinese netizen
    Amazon have major supply chain exposure in the mainland. Regardless of whether they sell in PRC, 90% of everything sold on Amazon in the rest of the world is made in China. They’ve offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Chengdu. So it will be interesting to see if there is any pressure put on Amazon.

  18. Low Profile says:

    @ary Melville – the government is actually right in claiming that some charities pursue political rather than charitable aims. A prime example was the Hong Kong Youth Care Association, which had all sorts of noble official objectives, but whose main purpose in practice was to harass the Falun Gong’s street booths on behalf of the CCP. For some reason it was dissolved last year, perhaps because the NSL makes it redundant. Of course, this isn’t the sort of charity the new warning is aimed at.

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