Hi Reddit, I’m Samuel Bickett, a Hong Kong-based American-born lawyer. I’m here to talk about my imprisonment in Hong Kong for a crime I didn’t commit, and the deep concerns cases like mine raise about rule of law in the city. You can view videos of the incident, with annotations here, and you can read about it at the Washington Post here, here, and here.

On December 7, 2019, I came across two men brutally beating a teenager in a crowded MTR station. The incident did not happen at a protest: all of us were simply out shopping on a normal Saturday. When one of the men then turned to attack a second person, I grabbed his baton and detained him until the police arrived. Both men denied being police officers in both English and Chinese, and the entire incident was filmed on CCTV and on bystanders’ phones. Despite having immediate access to evidence that the two men had committed serious and dangerous crimes, the police arrested me and allowed the men to go free. They later denied in writing that the men were police officers, then months later changed their story to say one of them was, in fact, a member of the police force whose retirement had been “delayed.”

The alleged police officer initially accused the teenager of committing a sexual assault, but admitted under oath that this was a lie. He then claimed instead that the teenager jumped over a turnstile without paying, which is not an arrestable offense in Hong Kong. Whether even this was true, we will likely never know, as the police initially sought the turnstile CCTV footage, but after viewing it they carved the footage out of a subpoena, ensuring they would be permanently destroyed by the MTR.

During the lead-up to trial, the police offered the second attacker--their only non-police witness to testify at trial--a HK$4,000 ($514 USD) cash payment and an "award."

I am out on bail pending appeal after serving nearly two months of my 4.5 month sentence, and will return to prison if I lose my appeal. By speaking out, I expect retaliation from the Police, who have long shown a concerning lack of commitment to rule of law, but I’m done being silent.

I first moved to Hong Kong in 2013, and fell in love with this city and its people. I have been a firsthand witness to the umbrella movement in 2014 and the 2019 democracy movement. As a lawyer, I have watched with deep concern as a well-developed system of laws and due process have been systematically weakened and abused by the Police and Government.

I met many prisoners inside--both political and "ordinary" prisoners--and learned a great deal about their plight. I saw the incredible courage they continue to show in the face of difficult circumstances. The injustices political prisoners face have been widely reported, but I also met many good men who had made mistakes--often drug-related--who have been sentenced to 20+ years, then allowed very little contact with the outside world and almost no real opportunities for rehabilitation. I hope to be able to tell their stories too.

I’m open to questions from all comers. Tankies, feel free to ask your un-nuanced aggressive questions, but expect an equally un-nuanced aggressive reply.

I will be posting updates about my situation and the plight of Hong Kong at my (relatively new) Twitter.

ETA: I have been working with an organization called Voice For Prisoners (voiceforprisoners.org) that provides letters, visits, and other support to foreign prisoners in Hong Kong, most of whom are in for long prison sentences for drug offenses. I met many of these prisoners inside and they are good people who made mistakes, and they badly need support and encouragement in their efforts to rehabilitate. If anyone is looking for something they can do, I encourage you to check them out.

ETA2: Thank you everyone, I hope this has been helpful in raising awareness about some of the situation here in Hong Kong and in the prison system. I am eternally grateful for all the support I've received.

If you are not a Hongkonger and looking for ways you can help, I encourage you to reach out to local organizations helping Hong Kong refugees settle in your country or state. Meet Hong Kongers. Hire them in your companies. Help them get settled. Just be a friend. Settling in a new place is very hard, and it means everything right now.

Comments: 2075 • Responses: 36  • Date: 

JAeroGT2147 karma

Did you lose your job as a result of your arrest or has your employer supported you (I read somewhere a US Bank)?

spbhk3479 karma

I am no longer employed by Bank of America, but I’m unable to say more than that for reasons that I’m sure you all can figure out.

reakos116 karma

I don't know who you are or what your values/beliefs are, and I'm sorry to hear you were fired but i wanted to say this to you:

"From the bottom of my heart: Thank you for standing up for another human being without concern for your own repercussions"

You're seriously inspiring to me and it really does make grateful that people like you exist in the world

I may not know you but I somehow feel immensely proud of you

spbhk57 karma

Thanks so much, that’s a really nice comment.

properbarrister1084 karma

How long do you intend to stay in HK, if you even plan on leaving at all? Is there any hope for HK in your view for locals and expats alike?

spbhk1734 karma

For now I am focused on my appeal, and then will make decisions about my own future. As for whether there is any hope for Hong Kong, I don't see it going back to what it was in the foreseeable future, as all signs point instead to increasing restrictions and pressures on rule of law. Hongkongers that are able to do so have left or are planning to leave. Others will stay behind and make do as best as they can.

Some Western observers, particularly in the business community, have minimized the risk to foreigners in Hong Kong of being targeted by the Police. But my case shows that the Police have no fear of targeting Westerners when it suits them—even using the National Security Law. Another American lawyer, John Clancey, was arrested on national security grounds and could still be charged. At this point, the Hong Kong Government’s rising hostility towards Western countries mean it is only going to become more and more likely that the NSL will be used to imprison Western residents and visitors as a means to further their political goals.

Avoiding politics won’t protect Westerners either. My case was unrelated to any political protests or activism, and in recent months the government assault on civil society has expanded well beyond political activists, targeting among others the oldest and largest teachers’ union, the Bar Association, and the Law Society. Most recently, they have been going after organizations that provide basic support for prisoners, such as helping with legal expenses or providing things like letters from pen pals or shampoo, as well as the Hong Kong Journalists Association, which just today the Security Secretary said may be violating national security—and these sorts of statements are nearly always the first step in intimidating them to shut down or have the leadership all be arrested.

properbarrister545 karma

I, like you, have lost faith in much of the Hong Kong Judiciary, especially the NSL-designated Magistrates and District Court judges. But I wonder if there is any hope left in the Court of Final Appeal, where your appeal may end up? Do you believe the top court still holds any legitimacy?

spbhk481 karma

It's really an open question how much the judiciary has been compromised. My impression as a lawyer is similar to yours: that the magistrate and district courts have been more malleable into the new order than the relatively independent higher courts. In magistrates courts, we're seeing people given years-long prison sentences for things like twist ties and laser pointers, which is absurd, though some other magistrates have been more than happy to call out the police by stating in no uncertain terms that officers have lied on the stand (yet the DOJ has refused to charge any of those officers with perjury, of course).

As for the high court, there are some extraordinarily bad outcomes coming out of the on things like bail and national security issues, but a lot of that is a result of the new national security law itself being incredibly broad in how it limits the rights of defendants to bail, jury trials, etc.--the judges are having to interpret a very repressive law. I really can't overstate how disturbing some of the provisions of the National Security Law are--it is deliberately designed to bypass Hong Kong's due process and individual rights protections to create a parallel system of proceedings where defendants can be locked up without trial for years, tried in secret in front of specially selected judges without a jury, and denied bail.

We haven't seen much yet from the Court of Final Appeal, though what we have seen indicates that they may be inclined to harsh sentences, but that they are interpreting the law within the bounds of what it says (even if those laws are quite bad ones).

One thing seems clear: judicial independence is not going to increase, and will probably decrease significantly over time.

sundayRoast2502 karma

I was an expat in Hong Kong from 2011 through to late 2019. I feel incredibly conflicted in my move back to London, but ultimately Sam my only advice is get out before you are made an example of again. There is no stopping the negative forces of the CCP. You cannot fight this with logic or the rule of law (which as you have discovered is simply a façade to keep international finance and investment in the city).

May the Hong Kong of the years past be treasured in our hearts and memories. Rather pessimistically I dont think she is coming back.

I wonder what is your view on the future of HK as a working destination for foreign professionals (Lawyers, Bankers, Execs etc)?

Good luck and best wishes on appeal. I only wish I was as half as brave as you.

spbhk335 karma

Thank you very much for the kind wishes. I discussed the risks to expats in another comment (https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/poq9m8/i_am_an_americanborn_lawyer_who_was_imprisoned/hcy9mxl?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3), but in short I think expats should be very cautious before deciding to work in Hong Kong--my arrest and imprisonment in a situation that had nothing whatsoever to do with politics is a good example of why.

bunda04268 karma

Did your view on local politics and policing changed after this case comparing to your views before? How did your expatriate peers think about your case?

spbhk790 karma

My case is blindingly obvious to anyone who looks at the videos for 5 minutes, so I've had pretty much universal support across the board (except of course from the occasional online tankie, a group who will say the sky is magenta if they think that's what the CCP would like them to believe, but neither I nor anyone else really cares what they think).

Prior to the protest movements, most locals I knew and most expats had little issue with the Police. They were known as "Asia's Finest," and a majority would have said they were fair. But one thing I really began to understand in prison, when I got to know so many of Hong Kong's poor and "rejects,"--triads, drug dealers, etc.--was that the police have never been good to them. They've always been abused by the police, even while the middle class was blissfully ignorant of it (which might sound familiar to American ears). So I'd say what really changed in recent years is that the police abuses started extending to the middle classes too.

Pornthrowaway7865 karma

They were known as "Asia's Finest,"

I've always understood Hong Kong's police to be one of the most violent, thuggish police forces in the world, but I guess people hear different things.

spbhk95 karma

Indeed, funny how perceptions of police tend to change depending on who you and your friends are. That’s true everywhere, not just Hong Kong.

baylearn262 karma

I read in an article that you were in the compliance department of investment bank Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

How is the culture in these banks, in your view? Are people generally pro-establishement, and here to milk money until they can't? Or are there many pro-democracy folks like yourself at the foreign banks in HK?

spbhk428 karma

In my experience, the professional classes are overwhelmingly supportive of the protest movement.

physis81183 karma

How was the food??

spbhk400 karma

Surprisingly not bad. The breakfast was downright delightful—bread, butter, jam, cheese, and milk tea.

Chickenboypoopoo172 karma

This is a crazy situation. Is there anything we can do to aid in your appeal/situation?

spbhk365 karma

Thank you - I don't think there's much that can be done for me at the moment. I think the most critically important thing Westerners can do right now is to reach out to local organizations in your city helping to integrate the flood of Hong Kongers escaping to other countries. Integrating into a new society is still very difficult—for many there are language barriers, and for all there are cultural challenges. So to the extent anyone can offer support to these orgs, some of their time to meeting the new arrivals and helping them to feel welcome and at home, that is a huge help. And for business owners, consider hiring a Hongkonger or two, even though some of them might not have perfect English yet.

hello_gary140 karma

Hi Sam, former HKer here.

Can you tell us a bit more what prision was like being a Gweilow? Were you worried you would be harassed at all?

How were you treated by the inmates and guards?

Heung Gong yan - ga yaou!!!!

Mgoi sai!

spbhk270 karma

I honestly feel so blessed to have had the chance to meet so many people in prison that I would not have ever befriended otherwise. I can now say that some of the kindest, most decent people I've ever been able to call friends are former drug dealers, societal rejects, the hated of society. I write them still and will do so for as long as they are in prison.

The guards actually were, by and large, sympathetic to my situation--everybody has seen the video, and everybody knows I did nothing wrong. And guards generally treated me well. But I am under no illusions--a lot was hidden from me because of who I am, and some people are treated very badly in there. This is not because of politics, but because they are labeled as "troublemakers"--people who file complaints to defend their rights, etc.

prediluvian91 karma

Most of the high-profile political prisoners pleaded guilty before the magistrate. Last week, Albert Ho Chun-yan said he was on the right side of history -- before pleading guilty to inciting unauthorized assembly.

You didn't plead guilty. Why?

Alternatively phrased; what are your thoughts on the people who are pleading guilty to politically motivated prosecutions.

Also, many lawyers (who are also political figures) in Hong Kong still profess to have faith in the Hong Kong Judiciary. Do you have faith -- do you believe the courts are still legitimate? Do you expect your appeal to be heard fairly and transparently?

spbhk377 karma

There is a distinction to be made, I think, between my case (which was unrelated to a protest) and some of the protest cases. Defendants like Albert Ho made a decision to undertake civil disobedience as a way to protest bad laws. But they were laws, and civil disobedience means, by definition, breaking those laws. Some of the protest defendants have continued their protest to those laws by refusing to plead guilty and demanding a trial, even knowing they'd be convicted. Others have pled guilty to take a shorter sentence. While it's easy for people on the outside to fault them for pleading guilty or say they're not committed enough, I can tell you from firsthand experience that when you're faced with the prospect of significantly more jail time, it is exceedingly difficult to maintain that resolve--especially in cases, like here, where it probably wouldn't make much if any difference to the cause. So I don't fault anyone who has taken a guilty plea.

In my case, the decision to plead not guilty was easy--I, my lawyers, the public, all naively believed that there was simply no way I'd be convicted of the charge. The alleged cop falsely accused a kid of a crime, committed six criminal assaults that we know about, and denied on camera that he was a police officer. It wasn't a difficult case. The day before my conviction, I put an offer down on a house for my mom back in the States (which fortunately was rejected)--that's how confident we all were that I would be free the next day. I had faith in the law, and in judges and lawyers to do the right thing.

Obviously, I'm no longer that naive.

AnonymousJoe1287124577 karma

The government have made a lot of people unhappy, both with the national security law, the Lantau development project (Lantau Tomorrow Vision) and different rules for different social classes. As can be demonstrated with Nicole Kidman being allowed to skip quarantine. The effects can be seen in thousands leaving the area and even Hong Kong being demoted in financial freedom rankings.

If we consider the cost of the Lantau project, the HK SAR economy will be severely strained for a long time without heavy outside Investments.

What do you see as the economic future of Hong Kong? And considering what happened to you, do you believe expats to take a more cautionary stance to working in Hong Kong?

spbhk127 karma

I think the general theme of all the unpopular Government policies you mentioned is that they ignore the will of the people, which is easy to do when the Government doesn't have to answer to the people. Few people really think that the local government represents Hongkongers, and they barely even pretend to anymore.

The local and Mainland governments are betting on continuing to use Hong Kong as an instrument to feed investment in and out of the Mainland, and they might be successful at that. I can't say that I'm enough of an expert on financial markets to know, and of course things are a bit unpredictable in these chaotic times.

I discussed the risks to expats in another comment, but in short yes, I think expats should be very cautious before deciding to work in Hong Kong--my arrest and imprisonment in a situation that had nothing whatsoever to do with politics is a good example of why.

couch_potato646973 karma

Hello Mr. Bickett, Hong Konger here as well. Firstly, I'm really sorry about what happened to you. It's unjust, appalling and fucking ridiculous.

Has this whole ordeal changed your concept of law in general? I used to view the law as a set of rules and regulations that safeguard justice in a society. But now I realize just how naive I was, and the law is simply a tool for those in power that could be twisted however they like it.

Also, is there a particular letter you got when detained that has left an impression?

Your choice to speak out is courageous and really admirable.

So thank you. And thank you for helping the other political detainees while in prison.

spbhk140 karma

Thank you for these questions and your kind wishes. I've been so moved by the support from the city's people, and with how much my plight has affected others.

On your second question first: Of course, the letters I got from my partner were the ones I came back to again and again, for comfort and strength. But from supporters I didn't know, all of them were amazing but the ones that most moved me were ones from a young man who really poured his heart out about how my case had broken his spirit and made him question how he could go on in this city. It was a real turning point for me in that I realized that it wasn't just that my case had many people feeling sorry for me, but that many had been personally touched and hurt by my case themselves--I think because my case showed not just legal deterioration but MORAL deterioration in the city. We've all been taught since we were children that we should help someone in need, but in my case, Hong Kong made that a crime worthy of imprisonment.

Now for your other question on my view of the law: I continue to believe that the law can be used as a force for good, to protect individual rights, to help the little guy. But I believe that it is rarely used in this way in modern society, and not just in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong has, of course, been an extreme example of how rule of law can be strained or subverted by selectively using the law to target only certain classes of people. The police and DOJ have been charging people with crimes on the flimsiest of evidence, while refusing to charge a single police officer with any crime despite countless examples of their offenses. Young protesters with twist ties or laser pointers have been given long prison sentences for possession of an “offensive weapon.” Participants from the opposition party who participated in a primary for a lawful Legislative Council election were all arrested and most have, since January, been imprisoned indefinitely without any information on when or if they will be able to have a trial. People walking several blocks away from an alleged riot have been charged and imprisoned for rioting simply for being nearby and wearing clothing associated with the democracy movement.

Yet at the same time, police officers caught on video committing crimes—whether it’s deliberately driving over protesters, brutally beating or pepper spraying people who simply said unfriendly things to them, or, in my case, attacking several shoppers without justification in a crowded MTR station—are forcefully defended by the police and DOJ leadership, who steadfastly refuse to discipline or prosecute them. Not a single police officer has been charged for any offense related to the protests.

But I have also become more aware over the past few years that our Western democracies are not immune to rule of law problems. In the US, the law has long been used to protect the property of the wealthy at the expense of the underclasses. And the complexities of the law and legal system have made access to justice out of reach for all but the wealthiest people. The Black Lives Matter movement has also raised awareness for myself and others of the race and class-based disparities in how the law is enforced and how justice is doled out. And, of course, the most recent election and its aftermath on January 6 were, frankly, horrifying to watch from abroad: rule of law and democratic institutions cannot survive in an environment of such contempt for facts and political norms.

A healthy legal and political system is a fragile thing, my friends. We have to be very careful with how we approach them, and treat them with the respect and TLC they need to survive and thrive.

Teanut10 karma

I'm sorry to hear about your case - I visited Hong Kong once about 5 or 6 years ago when Occupy Central was going on, and I'm very sad how things have gotten worse.

What's with the twist ties, though? I tried Googling it but couldn't find much about how it's part of the protest movement. I assume the laser pointers are people shining into the eyes of police or something but I don't understand how the twist ties play into it.

spbhk20 karma

Here you go, twist ties wasn’t really the right word. Zip ties or cable ties. https://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1546535-20200828.htm

InfiniteInternet56 karma

I don't know if you're allowed to discuss case details...

I read that the police excluded a piece of CCTV footage from their investigation resulting in its destruction. Did it include audio? How do you think it would have affected the outcome?

Also, in your video, I think the parts spoken in Mandarin can't be heard. I assume footage from other bystanders would have contributed greatly. Why do you think people hesitate to come forward?

spbhk156 karma

The CCTV that the police excluded, which led to its destruction, was the CCTV of the turnstile. The alleged cop first said that the teen committed a sexual assault, then later admitted he lied and that the teen had only jumped a turnstile. But as he is an admitted liar, even that is hard to believe, so we doubt even that happened.

But even taking the prosecution case at its absolute most favorable, the kid jumped over a turnstile, which is not an arrestable offense in Hong Kong, and the cop then assaulted him. That's the best the prosecution could come up to argue for their own case. No doubt those destroyed CCTV videos would have shown these events.

You're right that the conversation in Mandarin where he said he wasn't a cop for the first time couldn't be heard (though of course it can be heard in English later on). I'm not sure if anyone was actually filming at that time. A few people did come forward with cell phone videos, which ended up being essential, but they all started after the initial series of events.

One thing that has bothered me all along has been that the press often just embeds that short cell phone video of the end of the incident, without including the CCTV. That CCTV footage is critical to showing how dangerous and violent these men were.

jimmycryptso25 karma

Why exactly was the CCTV video destroyed? I am having trouble understanding this point. Just because the police didn't request it? Could your lawyer have requested it as part of discovery?

spbhk117 karma

It was more blatant than that. They first went to court and got a search warrant that included the CCTV. They then went over to MTR and viewed the videos. They then went BACK to court and got a second search warrant that excluded those videos from the ones they would collect. A couple weeks later, those videos were destroyed in the regular course of business by MTR.

WaterstarRunner40 karma

Hey Sam,

One thing that has become apparent in the aftermath of the protests is that some people have really been poorly served by the typical low-cost defence lawyer who will ignore the circumstances of the case and aim to plead out proceedings in the quickest possible manner. While this might be expedient for a teenage shoplifter aiming for a bind-over,, the department of justice doesn’t seem to want to do bind-overs for protest-related offences. From the outside the only winner looks to be fixed-fee lawyering.

Many cases where the prosecution has presented a manifestly false summary of facts or a bizarre interpretation of statute have simply been met with a guilty plea, and the sentences do not seem particularly lenient for non-contested proceedings.

Over the course of 2020, justice at least seemed to favour those whose lawyers contested blatantly false police testimony, however now the lower court magistrates and judges seem to be more fearful of repercussions in delivering a verdict that questions police conduct in any manner.

My questions on the above are:

  • How much did you see of people locked up solely because of cheap plea-based lawyering?

  • Do you see a drift over time in individual magistrates / district court judges, or is it simply down to the personality of the presiding individual?

  • Is there judge-shopping going on by the DoJ for non security-law protest proceedings?

  • Do you think that appeals are likely to find a more favourable hearing in higher courts, or at this point is pursuing an appeal simply a mechanism so that “injustice is seen to be done”?

spbhk102 karma

Most of the political prisoners I met had lawyers provided to them by the 612 Humanitarian Fund, and those lawyers were quite diligent in representing their clients (to my secondhand understanding). But 612 was forced to shut down last week after their assets were frozen, which will probably force many more protesters to have to use duty lawyers. And indeed, the representation will not be as good--which is exactly why the Police forced 612 to shut down.

With nonpolitical prisoners, the vast majority of whom were drug offenders, they tended to be represented very poorly by duty lawyers, and as a result were stuck with long sentences sometimes on flimsy evidence. I know everyone is (understandably) focused on political prisoners here, but I really, really hope to work to draw more attention to the sorry plight of non-political prisoners in Hong Kong prisons as well.

I don't want this to sound like I'm trashing duty lawyers--while I don't have direct experience with them in HK, my assumption is that, like the US, the problem is that they're overworked and overwhelmed, not that they don't care.

NotesCollector38 karma

Do you think the protesters overplayed their hand during the 2019 protests, resulting in the Chinese government undertaking the nuclear option of imposing the National Security Law. Was this something that you saw coming?

What are your thoughts on the last few remaining British-born expat police officers like Rupert Dover and David Jordan who were at the forefront of policing during the 2019 protests?

Lastly, do you think Hong Kong is now reduced to little more than just another Chinese city, and that the broad autonomy promised under One Country Two Systems are now moot since 30 June 2020?

Thanks for doing this AMA - read about your case on HKFP.

Take care and stay safe.

spbhk147 karma

I don't agree with everything the protesters did, particularly some of the more violent actions that occurred, though it's a bit rich of me to say that from my expat banking job ivory tower. But the blame for the breakdown of order rests squarely with the Government. At every single stage they had opportunities to make reasonable compromises, like convening a panel to investigate both police and protester abuses (the protesters had just called for it to investigate police, so this would have been a meaningful compromise), or admitting mistakes like in declaring the initial Legco protest a riot. Yet, they refused to compromise or even speak to the protesters. The contempt the city's leaders showed for their own people was maddening, and they have no one to blame but themselves for the violence that occurred as a result.

I don't have any opinion on the British-born police leaders that's any different than my opinion of the local-born police leaders: They failed, and continue to fail, in their duty to uphold the law and ensure discipline in their own ranks.

WaterstarRunner37 karma

As an inmate, did you get enough letters?

What sort of thing would you want more of? I hear they have strong limits on books, so I'd imagine letters might be able to contain more art, literature, world current affairs, science and tech, educational material and so on.

Also, are you able to share letters?

spbhk116 karma

I got a huge number of letters from supporters, thanks in large part to Wall-Fare, the organization that coordinated these for people caught up in the social movement. The Police intimidated Wall-Fare into shutting down yesterday, which is really disturbing to me. These letters were so essential to us for getting by in there.

One thing I've been focusing my time on while outside is trying to do what I can to get similar letters to non-political prisoners. Those of us who were inside for issues related to politics got tons of letters, while those in there for drug offenses or whatever else got none or just one or two a month. But these are people who are trying their best to reform in a prison system that gives them little opportunity to do so, and they so badly need support and encouragement from outside.

I have been partnering with an organization called Voice For Prisoners (voiceforprisoners.org) that provides letters, visits, and other support to foreign prisoners in Hong Kong, most of whom are in for long prison sentences for drug offenses. I met many of these prisoners inside and they are good people who made mistakes, and they badly need support and encouragement in their efforts to rehabilitate. If anyone is looking for something they can do, I encourage you to check them out.

Buttybutty12230 karma

We were planning on visiting Hong Kong next year from the US as we had a cheap flight and heard good things about tourism there despite the political unrest. Would you suggest that being a bad idea? We were hoping to support the local businesses there.

spbhk120 karma

I don’t think it’s a terrible idea if quarantine allows, but please please please support democracy friendly “yellow” business and avoid authoritarian friendly “blue” business. There’s an app called Wolipay that can show you which is which. A lot of the text is in Chinese but basically yellow is good and blue is bad.

PotGetsStirred27 karma

How's Muimui?

spbhk51 karma

Thank you! I’ve been so disappointed at how few people have been focusing on the real star of the show. After appearing in the Washington Post, she is adapting to her new fame quite well, but isn’t sure what to do next to capitalize. Knowing her, probably OnlyFans.

HeroandLeander19 karma

Have you met other political prisoners in prison? What are their attitudes toward the future?

spbhk60 karma

I met many. The faces of these young men will be imprinted on my mind forever. I think about them every day—their courage and positivity in the face of such a bleak future. Despite my situation being much better than theirs (4.5 months vs years and years in prison), they were, without exception, there for me and supporting me in any way they could. I only regret that I didn’t get contact info for most of them so I could have done more to help them now that I’m out.

imnotreallyaherring17 karma

How can we as Hong Kongers support people in prison? Both political prisoners and people in for other offences?

I have tried writing to prisoners but find myself wondering what kinds of things they would like to read about. Any advice on how to get started? I already have a channel for sending letters, just looking for inspiration about what to write.

And is there anything else that could help? I know our prison system is pretty draconian. There’s a lot of stigma on release as well, which doesn’t reflect well on our society or the prison system.

How was your treatment inside? What is the worst part of the incarceration for most people? Did many people speak english or do you speak Cantonese?

Thanks in advance, take care.

spbhk24 karma

This is especially important since Wall-Fare, the organization that coordinated letters, has been forced to shut down. If you have a channel to write political prisoners, please do it and do it often, and ask those prisoners if they know anybody else who wants letters, and write those people too. Then have your friends write those same people. In prison, you can never have enough letters.

For things to send: A letter by itself is perfectly fine, and makes us very happy. And it doesn't need to be brilliant--sometimes people just wrote me what they had done that day, and that was still great to receive. But if you want to send other things: Short stories, puzzles like sudoku, and news from the person's particular interests (or if they're foreign, their particular country) are great. We get news inside, but it's quite general and Hong Kong focused. I had people sending me news on some of my geeky hobbies like video games and science fiction.

If you're interested in supporting non-political prisoners as well--and I hope you and others are--I have been partnering with an organization called Voice For Prisoners (voiceforprisoners.org) that provides letters, visits, and other support to foreign prisoners in Hong Kong, most of whom are in for long prison sentences for drug offenses. I met many of these prisoners inside and they are good people who made mistakes, and they badly need support and encouragement in their efforts to rehabilitate. If anyone is looking for something they can do, I encourage you to check them out.

Renoux_Venture14 karma

In your experience, have the Hong Kong Police always acted this way? Before the Hong Kong protests, they were always portrayed as the model that all other police forces should try to copy. It's strange seeing that facade collapse. Could you provide some insight into that?

spbhk61 karma

I mentioned this in another comment, but before prison I probably would have said the Police changed in the 2019 protests. But in prison I befriended a lot of people outside of my normal social bubble--triad members, refugees, the forgotten people of Hong Kong--and what became clear is that they have never been treated well by the Police. They have always been abused and manipulated by the legal system. Nothing changed for them. What changed in 2019 was that the Police and the system turned their violence and injustice against the middle classes, rather than just the poor.

Fragrant-Ad-982511 karma

What compelled you to stop the attack...? Knowing that you would be imprisoned for it would you have stopped again?

spbhk44 karma

I've never once regretted it. I broke no law, and I will never regret doing the right thing. A lot more people could have been hurt that day.

properbarrister11 karma

As a lawyer who worked in a bank, is there any merit to residents switching from Chinese banks to Citibank in Hong Kong? At the very best, people hope that Citi will be less willing to voluntarily hand over information than say Bank of China; at the least, will supporting non-Chinese banks instead of a SOE-bank help (though very slightly) reduce SOE influence?

spbhk21 karma

Yes, there is definitely merit in switching to Citibank to have better protection for your assets. Citibank will still have to follow local law, but will not do so unless they absolutely have to.

Ofitz_0310 karma

Do you think the fact you knew you were innocent helped with the mental side of coping as you know you did nothing wrong and arent a bad person or does the fact you know your innocent make the mental side harder as you know you dont deserve the punishment you are recieving?

spbhk38 karma

This is a great question. Actually the latter: knowing I was innocent made it harder emotionally. I’m a person of faith, and what really helped me when I was feeling down was telling myself that while I didn’t commit this crime, I had done plenty of bad things in my life, and that I should see this prison time as atonement for those other bad things. That sounds messed up, but inside prison that’s what got me through the day. As Martin Luther King said, “unearned suffering is still redemptive.”

CrowZer09 karma

What is hing kong prison food like?

spbhk38 karma

Honestly, not as bad as I thought it would be. The western breakfast was actually kind of good--buttered bread with jam. And decent milk tea with every meal, 3 times a day. I hear there's a lot of variety between different prisons though, and most people agree that the Western and South Asian food are significantly better than the local food (you're assigned a meal based on race and race alone lol)

marshaln9 karma

Wow so the key to having good food is to be white. Man that's nuts

Good luck on your appeal. We all know you did the right thing and had no way to know the guy was a cop

spbhk30 karma

Wow so the key to having good food is to be white

Welcome to Hong Kong…

rab777hp1 karma

what kind of food do eurasians get? buttered bread dipped in congee?

spbhk1 karma

Actually, bread dipped in congee is exactly what the locals get for lunch every day. It's the worst of all the meals.