tirsdag 15. september 2020

Hong Kong was once a safe haven from China. Now activists are fleeing the city by boat to Taiwan

For Ha Sze-yuen, the sea surrounding Hong Kong is more than just a backdrop for sunsets and beaches. The 73-year old views the ocean as his route to freedom - a means of escape from the oppression and poverty of communist China.

On the night of April 16, 1975, Ha and a friend slipped past Chinese border guards and plunged their homemade, inflatable rubber dinghy into the dark water of Shenzhen Bay. They then started paddling toward the bright lights of Hong Kong, which at the time was still a British colony. Ha Sze-yuen escaped mainland China for Hong Kong in 1975, rowing across Shenzhen Bay in a small rubber dinghy. Ha said he had already been caught and jailed three times during previous failed attempts to swim across the water. After the third attempt, he said, guards beat him so badly his mother cried when she saw his wounds.

"I was fighting for my freedom," Ha said. "I was afraid, but compared to life in China the fear was nothing."

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