China Determined to Repatriate 5,000 Hong Kong Citizens

Missionary Hopes U.N. Can Help Turn the Tide

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HONG KONG, MAY 2, 2002 ( About 5,000 children of Hong Kong citizens are in danger of being forcefully taken from their families and repatriated to continental China, where they were born.

Their right of residence has been denied them through the reinterpretation of a norm established by Beijing´s Parliament, at the request of the Hong Kong government. Many see the juridical force of the reinterpreted norm as a dangerous precedent for Hong Kong´s autonomy.

Following months of protests and legal battles, the case has gone beyond local boundaries. On Monday, a U.N. subcommission for human rights heard the complaint in Geneva of eight individuals who came from Hong Kong to explain the problem.

Father Franco Mella, missionary of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, has worked in Hong Kong for 28 years. He is promoting initiatives of solidarity to support individuals´ right of residence. The missionary sounded optimistic.

«We have explained the facts and spoken at length with the commission´s president, Philippine Virginia Bonoan-Dandan,» Father Mella told the Misna missionary agency, in Geneva. «There is a will to intervene in a case that has already reached emergency proportions.»

In March, Father Mella was among the organizers of a 10-day hunger strike in Hong Kong by Christian churches and civil institutions in protest against the government´s decision to proceed with forced repatriation.

Thirty immigrants have been repatriated since March 31. An emblematic case is that of mentally handicapped Cheung Hoisang, 25, who was deported to China on April 23, despite Father Mella´s hunger strike.

Hoisang´s parents were obliged to go to China to take care of him. Because of their limited resources, they will have to return to Hong Kong and will have to ask someone to look after their son.

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