Hong Kong protest teen will not be taken from parents: Lawyer

AFP , Monday 5 Jan 2015

HK protests
File Photo: Hong Kong protests (Photo: Reuters)

A 14-year-old pro-democracy protester in Hong Kong who faced being removed from his parents will be allowed to remain with his family, his lawyer said Monday, after an outcry over the treatment of minors who took part in the demonstrations.

The secondary school student, who cannot be identified, voiced his anger despite the reprieve, criticising authorities' actions as "extremely unethical" and "politically motivated".

"The more we are suppressed, the more we think we are doing the right thing," he told AFP after the decision.

It comes as a 14-year-old girl who chalked a flower on a protest wall waits to hear whether she will be removed from her father's care at a hearing later in January.

The boy was arrested as police cleared the Mongkok protest camp in late November -- the first of the three main rally sites to be cleared after student-led demonstrators blocked major city intersections in late September to demand free leadership election in the semi-autonomous southern Chinese city.

Police then applied for a care and protection order which could have seen him removed from his parents and sent to a children's home.

But at a closed-door High Court hearing on Monday, the department of justice said that the application for the order would be withdrawn, the boy's solicitor Patricia Ho told AFP.

He was also facing a contempt case for obstructing bailiffs ordered to clear the Mongkok site, but that was dropped at the same hearing, Ho said.

The boy is still set to receive a separate summons for obstructing a public officer, said Ho.

"Their intention is to scare people off by punishing one person," the teen told AFP.

"Going to a children's home can change someone's future in Hong Kong," he said.

"What the government is doing is below the belt because they are using all means to try to stop young people from carrying out political campaigns. But it will just make us more determined."

Police were not immediately able to comment on the boy's case.

Police have also applied for a care and protection order for the 14-year-old girl, after she drew a flower with chalk on the "Lennon Wall" -- a public staircase which was plastered with pro-democracy messages during more than two months of rallies.

The girl was arrested in the early hours of December 23 after scrawling on the wall and was detained for 17 hours.

She was briefly sent to a children's home last week, but was then released back into her father's care and is on bail under curfew restrictions pending the next hearing.

Since then groups have periodically gathered at the Lennon Wall to chalk messages of support for her.

Minors were arrested during the mass protests against Beijing's decision to vet who can stand in the 2017 elections and at subsequent smaller gatherings, but police have not confirmed the total number.

In a letter attributed to "Chalk Girl" and shared by supporters on social media, the teenager thanked people for their "care and encouragement".

"I will definitely continue to study hard, not letting down everyone's support and expectations," she said.

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