The news clippings below are reports of violent and barbarous raid on the Whitehead detention camp by the Government of Hong Kong on April 7. There are also a large number of letters from the Vietnamese refugees, describing the true accounts of the refugees under attack in the camp that day. We only publish some of the more typical letters in this issue for your reference to expose the many lies by the Government of Hong Kong in the coverup.
New Evening Post Thursday, April 7, 1994
Security Measures Covered The Air, Sea And Land
To coordinate with the repatriation plans, 1,500 "boat people" from the Whitehead Camp in Shatin were to be relocated. The Correctional Department joined by the police department, mobilized a troop of 1,200 antiriot personnel which covered the air, sea and land to maintain security during the relocation process. Over 300 aroused boat people refused to cooperate and climbed up onto the roof. Waving a banner and shouting, they caused much disturbance. The antiriot troop twice used a total of over 100 tear gas grenades to suppress the disturbance. By noon, the group of angry boat people finally decided to end their protest and return to the ground. The relocation process then continued in the afternoon.
The target of relocation this morning was the 1,500 boat people staying in the seventh section of the Whitehead Camp. As the repatriation planning, these boat people were to be relocated to the Man Yee Boat People Center first. To guard against severe resistance, this morning's relocation had been carefully arranged. The Correctional Department mobilized 500 emergency support personnel. The police department dispatched 4 units of over 700 P.T.U. (Police Tactical Unit) police, 2 armored vehicles, a helicopter to survey from the air above the camp, and 2 marine police vessels to be on guard by the shore. A large troop of fire fighters and paramedics were also standing by.
According to sources, because the boat people were not informed of the relocation beforehand, some of them were concerned that the Hong Kong government were using relocation as an excuse but actually intended to repatriate them. Before this incident, some of the boat people had made certain "preparations." They had indicated to the volunteer workers in the camp, that if Hong Kong Government take "abrupt actions," they would resist at all cost, by committing suicide etc. There were 15,413 boat people in the Whitehead Camp. During the past two months, there were incidents of protests and hunger strikes.
Hong Kong Today, April 8, 1994.
A spokesman for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital said that since the boat people at the Whitehead Camp started the hunger strike a few days ago, several of them have come to the hospital seeking medical treatment.
Also, until 1:00 a.m. yesterday, the number of boat people from the Man Yee Camp who had developed illnesses from hunger striking taken to the Prince of Wales Hospital had increased to seventeen. Nine of them were admitted. A total of thirty five people went for treatment in these two hospitals.
Restrictions Everywhere, Suspected News Censorship. Reporters Expelled,Looked Like A Cover Up.
During the relocation of Boat People from the Whitehead Center yesterday, the authorities deployed a huge task force from the Police Tactical Unit to subdue the resistance of the boat people. They also imposed many hindrances on reporters at the scene. Officials of the Correctional Department accused a dozen reporters and photographers of intruding into restricted areas. They were ordered to leave and forbidden to take any photographs. Some of them were even given verbal warnings and had their identity card numbers recorded.
In the past, whenever incidents occurred at the Whitehead Camp, reporters would stand on a mound outside the barbed wire fence to take photographs. The police seldom interfered, but they handled things differently this time.
Yesterday, when several reporters tried to take photographs from the mound, Correctional Department officers immediately stopped them, and threatened to confiscate their films should they take any more photographs. The reporters were then led to the main entrance of the camp. A reporter from our paper was even ordered to remove the lens from his camera, which he refused to do as he had to carry out his duty as a reporter.
When the reporters passed by a beach near the camp, the Correctional Department officers again claimed that this was a restricted area. As we observed, only half the perimeter of the beach was surrounded by wire fencing. The rest of the area was free for the public to come and go. We also happened to see three ordinary citizens entering the beach, and there was no notice board at the site suggesting that it was a restricted area.
The Correctional officers explained to the reporters that there was a notice board indicating the restricted area, but it seemed to have been damaged by some people.
Even the helicopters on the scene carried out the duty of driving away the reporters. Each time reporters appeared on the beach, the helicopter descended and circled, to chase them away.
Yesterday, a photographer from our paper had been warned and ordered to leave three times by the Correctional officers. Finally, the authorities even claimed to reserve the right to take further action.
In fact, the reporters were only working outside the fenced area of the camp yesterday, and there was a long distance between them and the camp. And besides this, the activities of the reporters didn't hinder the operation of the authorities at all.
Further more, we suspect the authority exercised discrimination against the reporters yesterday. A section of the road outside the camp was blocked by the authorities. All vehicles from newspapers were not allowed to enter. The reporters had to get out and walk. However, the vehicle of a certain television station was free to enter and leave. When this television reporting vehicle entered the blocked road again, a press car followed closely and safely entered the site free from any obstruction.
From Our Newspaper And The Eastern Express Were Injured During Their Courageous Attempt To Capture The Scene With Their Cameras
Reporters from the Hong Kong media exerted their "supernatural powers" yesterday morning to cover the story of the great invasion of the refugee camp by a thousand strong force. Some early birds were able to hire helicopters to cover the news and take pictures from the sky. Others dared not take things too easily and rented construction equipment with an elevating platform. Others still, resorted to climbing up the hills nearby, hoping to get some overhead pictures of the police discharging tear gas shells. However, many of them were intercepted by the Correctional Department officers on the scene. During the incident, three reporters from our newspaper and the Eastern Express succeeded in reaching the top of the hill, but were scratched by thorn bushes on their way. Two foreign reporters, a man and a woman, lost their footing and rolled down a seven feet slope. Fortunately, they suffered only slight injuries and did not need treatment in hospital.
To stage this invasion, the Police Tactical Unit and the staff of the Correctional Department were all geared up as if they were facing some strong enemy army. Guards were posted outside and surrounded the camp. Several groups of reporters who intended to get to the hill within the camp area via the beach were stopped and sent back. Some were caught twice, and the staff of the Correctional Department threatened to hand them over to the police so that they would be prosecuted. However, they were later released, under the pretext that the police were busy.
As in the past, whenever incidents have broken out in the restricted boat people centers, a certain Hong Kong private helicopter company received a boost to their business. Yesterday quite a few companies from the news media fought hard in order to hire the helicopters. The first few who got in the sky had a chance to take some pictures of the camp with a bird's eye view, but the later ones were chased away by the Flying Services helicopters which were assisting the police. We heard that according to the laws of Hong Kong, when the police blockade an area on the ground, the overhead air space is also treated as a restricted area, and unauthorized entry is prohibited.
Good photographs are not possible when taken from the angle on the ground, so besides hiring a helicopter to help, this paper sent groups of reporters to attack the nearby hill. Some of our "buddies" in uniform reminded them, "The hill is too steep, and there are large lizards and poisonous mosquitoes. It's best not to climb up there." However, the faith of our reporters was not shaken. They went around the beach that surrounds the camp, walked through the rocky areas and waded through water to reach the foot of the hill. Overgrown with thorn bushes, there was no path to the top. After over ten minutes of tedious struggle, holding on to tree trunks or branches as they carefully climbed up, they finally reached the top of the hill. However, they were scratched and cut on the arms and foreheads by thorn branches, and they were soaked with sweat.
Two foreign reporters from the Eastern Express, one male and one female, had even the worse luck. They lost balance during their climb and rolled down a seven feet slope. Blood was seen on their arms, legs and even their noses.
All Safety Precautions Had Been Taken For Invasion
Of Refugee Camp With Tear Gas Grenades
Special Agent For Refugees Claims
There Was No Other Way Concern Group Reprimand Government For Using Force, And Ask For Rescreening
-----Eastern Daily Reporter
The "Hong Kong Refugee Concern Group" reprimanded the government for using force in an effort to relocate the boat people. They indicated that the boat people feared that the true intention of the government was to take them to the airport and to send them back to Vietnam.
Ms. Jia-Li Du, the spokesperson for the Concern Group warned the government that if forced repatriation was to be carried out, protests would escalate. Therefore, the government should rescreen the dissatisfied boat people in order to ease the tension in the camps.
Legislator and spokesperson for the Liberty Party Security Policy, Mrs. Liang Shu-Yee Chau, who is currently abroad, requested that the authorities review the event and see if any goals were accomplished. She asked the authorities to try to avoid bloody confrontation as much as possible.
5:30 a.m. on April 7th, 1994, over 1,000 policemen and 500 CSD equipped with gas masks, shields, truncheons, and tear gas rifles, came in to force repatriation of the boat people living in section 7 White Head detention center, the place holding about 1,500 Vietnamese boat people, of whom more than half were children, women and the elderly. All of the Vietnamese refugees protested in peace and nonviolently against the use of force by the Hong Kong government. Mr. Dang Ngoc Thang, ID #87886, boat # 127/91, tried to set himself on fire to protest but police firemen extinguished the fire and immediately took him away.
Hundreds of Vietnamese refugees tied their hands together, a sign of nonviolence, and sat quietly on the field. The police then shot tear gas grenades directly onto these empty-handed people to disperse them. Many children, women and the elderly could not withstand the tear gas densely covering the whole area, so they ran into their rooms. The police immediately fired tear gas grenades into the rooms to clear them out and took away the first group of about 300 people.
The rest of the people, over 1,000, many of whom were children, women, the elderly and the sick, were suffocating and had to climb onto the roof to avoid the tear gas. Their only weapon were banners written in English and Chinese which said: "Liberty or death" - " The Hong Kong people please support us" - "We protest forced repatriation from UNHCR and the Hong Kong government" together with white flags written "SOS" on them.
They are determined to rather die in Hong Kong than returning to the place where, many years ago, they had risked their lives to escape. Therefore, even though being barbarically suppressed by the police, they were determined not to go back.
At about 10 o'clock, the police continued to fire second round of tear gas brutally and inhumanely on this group of refugees. This continuous assault was operated by a platoon of police guarding top of the roof. The dense tear gas including white gas and yellow gas covered completely the bodies of these people in about 30 minutes. The dense tear gas even blocked the sight of the buildings behind, making it look like a big fire. Many women and children covered themselves with thin blankets to avoid the tear gas. The policemen with gas masks came in and pulled the blankets away to make them suffocate. Some policemen even opened the blankets and fired tear gas grenades into them.
Many people including children passed out. Blood was coming out of their mouth, nose and ears. The police immediately handcuffed them and pulled them out onto the buses.
During this time, over 10,000 people in sections 1,2,3,4,5,6,8 stood in their fields holding banners and yelled out slogans protesting this inconscientious act from the Hong Kong police.
Despite the reaction of the Vietnamese refugees, violence is increased to suppress these innocent people, who had nothing on themselves to cause violence, except banners with the "SOS" slogan.
At 11 o'clock, the police continued firing many tear gas grenades into these innocent people. This round was the most violent and barbaric which lasted much longer than the first two, despite the fact that over 10,000 refugees in sections 1,2,3,4,5,6,8 yelled out in hoarse voice asking them to stop their bloody acts. This was not to "suppress the disturbance" as the police deceivingly informed the public. This was bluntly a cold-blooded atrocity, that the Hong Kong government imposed upon children, women, the elderly and the innocents who were nonviolent and empty-handed; and the only reason was because of their big sin: Thirst for liberty!
Dear human conscience!
Please put yourself in our present tragic situation, to see somewhat of the miseries that we have to endure in days like this.
Please call out to stop the sinful, bloody acts of the UNHCR and the Hong Kong government forced upon the Vietnamese refugees. Please give us back our refugees right, so that you can see what we have tried to tell you.
On Hong Kong government television, the police falsely accused the Vietnamese refugees of violent protest against the police, which resulted in this kind of suppression.
Please watch these scenes closely again. Where were the scenes of the Vietnamese refugees fighting against the police, when their hands are already tied together from the moment the police entered the camp? There were some self-made weapons confiscated by the police and CSD a few years ago from the conflict among some bad members of the refugees. These weapons were rusting inside the police and CSD warehouse. Now, to deceive the public, the police used these weapons for accusation against our noble protest for freedom. This is a low tactic of the police together with the CSD and the UNHCR as accomplices.
After six hours of assaulting the nonviolent and empty-handed people, after the last refugees were forced to leave the camp, the police and CSD used fire hoses to clean out blood stains on the roof and other places to erase all traces. Many refugees, unconscious or injured, were still pushed onto the bus to be taken to another place without any first aid treatment. This is done in order to hide the facts from the public.
Dear Hong Kong and international journalists, please use the international declaration regarding journalist responsibilities in the second conference of the Federation of Journalists at Bordeaux, France in April, 1954:
We urgently ask the true Hong Kong and international journalists to bring the truth about this barbaric atrocity to the court of conscience and the public in Hong Kong and all over the world. All of the Vietnamese refugees in the whole White Head Detention Center are willing to be the witness for this atrocity.
We urgently ask the international humanitarian organizations, the international legal organizations, the journalists to contact immediately the victims in section 7, and do not let the Hong Kong government cover up this incident like they did during the atrocity in Sekkong camp in February, 1992.
A few points:
The UNHCR and the Hong Kong government please stop all your dirty intentions to force repatriation on the Vietnamese refugees. Stop your sinful hands. Remember our cry for help today:
We are ready to sacrifice 25,999 persons until the last one gains freedom.
Representing the Committee to Fight for Refugee Rights in Section 3,
White Head Detention Camp. Nguyen Dinh Manh President ID #43724 Nguyen Van Thang General Secretary ID #43756 De Tham Hoa Former Journalist in Vietnam ID #94172
(Originally in Au Lac Language)
Dear the Supreme Master Ching Hai,
We, all the Vietnamese boat people in White Head Detention Camp section 3 respectfully send Master our best regards and best wishes. We are deeply impressed and deeply touched to see that Master has had pity on us, showed compassion towards us, and has been willing to help us, those who have been stripped off the most basic human rights.
The severe detainment policy that the Hong Kong government has applied toward the Vietnamese boat people during the past 5,6 years is a crime. Right now all of us including men, women and children have to live our weary lives in these crowded sections, under hot metal roofs and surrounded by dreadful and horrible barbed wires. Our heart aches because our children did not commit any sin but they had to suffer this kind of imprisonment.
In addition to that, to legalize the forced repatriation policy, to send the boat people back to the dictatorship communist regime in Viet Nam, where the bloodthirsty executioners of "freedom, democracy and human rights" are now in reign, the Hong Kong government has set up a screening policy which is extremely unfair and illogical. With their inhumane screening policy, they have deceived international public opinion and have cleverly put the label "economic immigrants" on the boat people.
Even worse, we have been severely threatened by the fact that the Hong Kong government will use violence to forcefully repatriate us back to the big prison of communist Viet Nam. It is shown by the incident that happened on April 7, 1994. The Hong Kong government used rude violence to barbarically suppress the boat people in section 7 of White Head detention camp. None of us want to leave our country, our mother and father, our brothers, sisters and relatives to live a wandering life in another country, depending on the help of humanity. But only because the country in which we lived has no respect for human rights, where we were not treated fairly by the communist government but were oppressed and terrorized by them, we left to escape from that kind of oppression and terrorism. That is why the fact that the Hong Kong government used violence to force us to repatriate is an inhumane act against the International Human Rights Charter which were signed by all the countries in the world including England and Hong Kong in 1948.
We wish that You Master will raise Your voice to protect us, the boat people and warn the Hong Kong government about their use of violence to oppress us and try to stop their barbaric actions in the future. We also implore Master to voice our urgent "call for life" to humanitarian countries, charitable agencies, human rights agencies and urge them to protect and help our people.
We also enclose in here a letter denouncing the crime that the Hong Kong government has committed toward the Vietnamese boat people of section 7, White Head detention camp. We respectfully implore Master to send this letter to news agencies in Hong Kong and over the world, as well as all the countries, all the charitable agencies and human rights organizations over the world.
We respectfully thank You Master for Your precious help and attention.
Representing the Committee to Fight for Refugee Rights in Section 3,
White Head Detention Camp. Nguyen Van Thang General Secretary ID #43756, Hut2C
To: Au Lac refugee in Hong Kong and in South East Asian countries, Hong Kong Government and UNHCR Human Rights Societies and the International Press
5th April 1994 (Originally in English)
I was a 1954 woman being detention in W.H.D.C., a woman who suffered
all kinds of grieves, family separation due to the Au Lac Communist
Regime oppression, a woman who had to leave relatives and her country,
setting off for freedom with her kids. Standing before the forced
repatriation of the Hong Kong. Government and knowing that going back
home is not the best approach, I now want very much to make a
I am against all kinds of forced repatriation programmes aimed at clearing our people up and pushing them back to the dictatorial communist regime.
I strongly protest against the Hong Kong's unjust screening process.
I am against the prolonged and seven detention of the Hong Kong Government. And the South East Asian first asylum countries. Our people's refugee status must be given back. I must allow that I will surely hang myself if once the Hong Kong police comes here and force us back. And that is it! From the depth of my heart, I beg you, the International Communities and first asylum countries! Please, please cancel your forced repatriation policy! May yoChen Post, Hong Kong u have a good health, as well as big hits or success for united strength of fighting.