- Howard Lam, a member of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party, says he was abducted by two Chinese agents while on a shopping trip in Hong Kong. He had on him a signed photo of Lionel Messi, which he intended to pass to the widow of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. Lam, a Christian, said the agents drove 21 staples into his legs in the shape of crosses.
A Hong Kong activist says he was abducted, blindfolded, and tortured by Chinese agents after receiving a signed photograph from Barcelona star Lionel Messi to pass onto the widow of a Chinese dissident.
Howard Lam, a prominent member of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party, was shopping in the city’s Mong Kok district on Thursday when two men bundled him into a van, Lam told a news conference in Hong Kong on Friday morning, which was live streamed by news website News01.
“Let’s go into the car for a chat,” Lam said the agents demanded in Mandarin, the Chinese dialect frequently spoken in China, but not in Hong Kong, which mainly speaks Cantonese. Once in the van, he said they took his mobile phone and made him inhale something that rendered him unconscious.
When Lam regained consciousness, he found himself being beaten on the stomach with a hard object, the activist said. He was blindfolded with his trousers pulled down, and laid flat on a surface with his four limbs tied up.
During the alleged abduction, Lam had on him a signed photograph of Lionel Messi, which he received last month and intended to pass onto Liu Xia, the widow of Liu Xiaobo, a Nobel prize-winning Chinese dissident who died last month. Xiaobo called for the end of one-party rule and introduction of a multi-party democracy in China.
- Bobby Yip/Reuters
Lam believed this was the reason for his alleged kidnap and torture. He said he received a phone call earlier this week with a warning in Mandarin not to give Liu Xia the photo, The New York Times reported.
“Do you know Liu Xia?” the agents allegedly asked, which Barcelona fan Lam denied. “Then why are you poking your nose where it doesn’t belong?” they then reportedly said. Liu Xia is currently feared to be missing.
The agents accused the activist of being “unpatriotic,” before confronting him about his religion. “Since you’re a Christian, here’s a gift of crosses for you,” the agents reportedly said, before proceeding to staple Lam’s legs 21 times in the shape of crosses while someone else covered his mouth with a towel-like substance.
“Since you’re a Christian, here’s a gift of crosses for you,” the agents reportedly said, before proceeding to staple Lam’s legs 21 times in the shape of crosses while someone else covered his mouth with a towel-like substance.
— Kris Cheng (@krislc) August 11, 2017
The activist was then made to inhale a substance that rendered him unconscious again, Lam said, and found himself dumped on a remote beach early Friday morning. Lam said he didn’t know whether this was in Hong Kong or mainland China. He managed to get home in a taxi, Lam told the press.
The agents allegedly warned Lam not to call the police or publicise the incident because this was a “national matter.”
Hong Kong-Chinese tensions
Howard Lam is a prominent member of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party.
Lam Cheuk-ting, the Democratic Party lawmaker, urged the Hong Kong government to “conduct a full investigation” into Lam’s apparent ordeal. According to the New York Times, he said: “We want to send a very clear message to the Chinese authority that this kind of incident should not happen and should not happen again.”
The Hong Kong police have opened an investigation into the matter, the South China Morning Post reported.
Thursday’s incident is reflective of Hong Kong’s tense relationship with China, which is growing increasingly fraught. In 2015, five booksellers – one of whom a British citizen – who sold politically sensitive publications in the city went missing, and were widely believed to be abducted. All but one has reappeared.