Hong Kong (AFP)
Samantha burst into tears as she opened the box for florist Elise Ip on Christmas Day. It was a surprise gift from her boyfriend, in custody for joining last year’s protests in Hong Kong.
“She loves dogs but she loves me more”, he wrote on a paper slip sent from a detention center and relayed to Ip via a support group for prisoners organized by the former social protection lawmaker Shiu Ka -chun.
After reading it, Ip found Samantha, who wanted to use a pseudonym, a cactus in the shape of a puppy’s head.
“Receiving this is a great support for me,” Samantha told AFP.
“The detainees don’t really have the opportunity to send us flowers or gifts. ”
Samantha was one of more than 50 relatives and friends who received gifts ordered behind bars and prepared by Ip, who launched the free “Send Flowers With You” project in July.
“I was hoping it would bring people inside and outside of prisons together,” Ip told AFP.
“With every story told in every delivery, I also want to remind the world that many have sacrificed their normal and happy lives for the city. ”
More than 10,000 people in Hong Kong have been arrested and thousands prosecuted for joining the massive and often violent pro-democracy protests that rocked the Asian financial center for seven months from June 2019.
The number of people in pre-trial detention has increased and protecting the rights of prisoners has become increasingly difficult after pro-democracy lawmakers were kicked out of the city legislature. The authorities have also tightened the rules for official visits.
Shiu, who represented the welfare sector in the legislature, formed a concern group, “Wall-Fare,” earlier this year.
The group provides services such as correspondence by correspondence, the delivery of flowers and snacks, and helps to contact relatives of those in prison.
© 2020 AFP