GENEVA, February 20, 2018 – Bookseller Lam Wing-kee, abducted by Chinese authorities for selling politically sensitive books in Hong Kong today addressed the 10th Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy — see quotes below.

For links to other speakers’ quotes, videos, photos, livestream, and more, click here.

On Chinese persecution of Hong Kong booksellers:

  • “From October to December 2015, shareholders and staff members of the Causeway Bay Books disappeared one after another.”
  • “I was placed in solitary confinement for interrogation for six months.”
  • “The Causeway Bay Books disappearances and what happened to Minhai Gui have shown that despite China’s economic prosperity, its idea of human rights is still lagging behind.”


Full prepared remarks in English and Chinese:

首先,我代表被牽連的同事,向日內瓦人權組織*表示謝意,在他們仍受到監控、失去自由的情況下,無法出席,向各位報告中國政府如何破壞「一國兩制」,違反對港人的承諾。 

First of all, I would like to thank the Geneva Summit*, on behalf of my colleagues who have been implicated in the Causeway Bay Books incident. They are still under surveillance and not able to attend this event. I’m here to report how Chinese government violated its pledge to respect the “One country, Two system” policy – its promise to Hong Kongese. 

2015年10月到12月,書店股東、員工先後失踪,中國政府涉嫌派人跨境犯法。我被單獨囚禁審訊半年,被安排回港銷案,但要帶同電腦硬碟回去,作為呈堂證物,裏面儲存400多個中國訂戶,以起訴該批讀者。從這事可以看出,中政國府已違反自己的相關憲法:人民有言論出版及閱讀自由。   

From October to December in 2015, shareholders and staff members of the Causeway Bay Books disappeared one after another. The Chinese government is allegedly responsible for these illegal cross-border abductions. I was placed in solitary confinement for interrogation for six months, after which I was sent back to Hong Kong to close the case regarding my disappearance. I was asked to bring back to Hong Kong my hard disc, containing a subscription list of 400 Chinese readers, as an evidence to sue them all. It is evident that the Chinese government has violated its constitutional law that guarantees the freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the freedom to read, for its people.   

2016年3月,我轉到韶關「監視居住」前,被安排在深圳與李波、呂波和張志平見面,獲知他們亦被囚禁,同樣受到恐嚇審問,被控以「違反經營書籍銷售」罪,面臨起訴;在剝奪自辯的情況下,毋須經法庭審理,會被判5至10年刑期。 

In March 2016, before I was transferred to Shaoguan where I was put under residential surveillance, I  arranged a meeting with Bo Li (Translator’s note: Shareholder), Bo Lv (Translator’s note: General manager) and Zhiping Zhang (Translator’s note: Sales Manager). I learned that they have been detained and interrogated under threat. They were charged with “illegal business operations” and were about to be prosecuted. Deprived of the right to defend themselves, they were to be sentenced to five to ten years of imprisonment, without a trial.     

到6月14日,我假釋回港,從互聯網新聞得知,桂民海已被拘留;我了解到整起事件,不僅涉及五人,倘若被掩蓋,中國政府會事無忌憚,繼續派人犯案,威脅港人的自由和人身安全。當日我跟李波取回電腦,他向我提及,2015年12月底,被幾個大陸人在貨倉樓下,脅迫上深圳,從而證實被失蹤的。 

On 14th of June, I was released on parole and returned to Hong Kong. I learned from news on the Internet that Minhai Gui (Translator’s note: Shareholder) had been detained. I realized that this incident does not simply concern the five of us. If what had happened to us were to be covered, the Chinese government would continue to commit crimes like these abductions, that infringe on the safety and freedom of Hong Kongese. On the same day, when I was retrieving the computer from Bo Li, he told me that he was forcibly taken to Shenzhen in December 2015 by several people who come from Mainland China, and was found missing.   

後來我返回酒店,面對用報紙包裹、套着膠袋的電腦,嘗試理清思路,考慮是否公開。但拿不定主意。我知道他們在大陸有親人,即使日後獲釋,為了保護家眷免受迫害,只能噤聲。讓我更躊躇的是,當我被迫依照指示,把電腦帶回中國,意味着我要出賣別人。我當時通過李波獲悉,中國政府委托代理人,在2015年11月把書店買下,打算逼迫我留在書店,對來買書的人,進行監視及報告。想到要做間諜,讓我惶恐不安。 

I then got back to the hotel. I looked at the computer which was wrapped in newspapers and plastic bags, and tried to set my mind on whether to make this public. I could not decide. I knew that my colleagues have relatives in Mainland China and even if they got released in the future, they would remain silent on this in order to protect their families. What made me hesitate even more was the order for me to bring the computer back to China, which meant that I would be giving other people away. I also learned from Bo Li that the Chinese Government bought the bookstore through an agent in November 2015, and intended to force me to stay to spy on those who come to buy books and report to the government. This idea deeply troubled me.  

但事情在偶然的情況下,出現了轉機。當我打開包裹,發覺有人拿錯。書店有三部電腦,他們讓李波轉交我的,不是我所用的,裏面沒有訂戶資料。我想到詐作不知,把它帶回去,就保護了讀者,讓他們避過檢控,但我因此會遭到嚴懲。面臨抉擇。我仔細思考,事緩則㘣,只要拖延到深夜,打電話跟監視的人說,剛才發現交錯,讓他們來不及更換,多逗留一天,就有時間決定。 

Fortunately, an opportunity turned up. When I opened the wrap, I found out that it was not the right computer. There were three computers in the bookstore, but the one brought to me through Bo Li was not the one I used to keep the subscription list. I thought to myself that if I were to pretend that I did not know it was not the computer of interest and just bring it back, I would be able to protect my customers, while I would face severe consequences myself. As a Chinese old saying goes “make it slow, think it through and you will find the solution”, I stalled until the midnight before I finally told the guard that it was not the right computer, so that they did not have enough time to react and had to stay for an extra day. I thus got more time to decide what to do.   

我依照吩咐,第二天到李波辦公室換取電腦,李波又提起被脅持的事,她的妻子在旁,仍猶有餘悸;李波失蹤那天,她發現丈夫的回鄉證,赫然在抽屜裏。晚上我返回酒店,翻看互聯網新聞,思考是否公開,然而無法決定。翌日北上,直到轉車,我不得不再次考慮,走出地鐵,抽了三根煙。我明白整件事情。我是香港人,在英國人管治下長大,認同普世價值,中國政府侵犯人權,四處綁架,犯下了嚴重罪行,理應受到譴責。權衡過得失,我決定改變行程,向傳媒尋求公理,公開事件。 

The next day,  as instructed, I went to Bo Li’s office to switch for the right computer. He mentioned the abduction to me again and I found his wife still in a lingering fear. On the day Bo went missing, she found his traveling permit to Mainland China in a drawer at home but not with him. I went back to the hotel that night and browsed through the news coverage on the internet. I still couldn’t decide on whether I should go public. I travelled to the north the next day. I had to think about it again when I was transfering. I walked out of the subway, had three cigarettes, and thought it all out. I am a Hong Kongese who grew up under the British governance and have universal values. The Chinese Government should be condemned for committing abductions and violating human rights. I finally decided to change my route and go to the media to publicize the whole story and seek justice. 

李波目前出入自由,但通訊受到監聽;呂波和張志平,2016年3月回港後,被迫滯留中國;我仍然被通緝,有時被跟蹤,也打算重開書店;桂民海監禁2年,去年獲釋,但覊留寧波,月前他意圖離境,第二度被拘留。 

Up to now, Bo Li has the freedom to travel but his communications are still under surveillance. Bo Lv and Zhiping Zhang have been forced to remain in China after their return to Hong Kong in March 2016. I am still wanted by the police and sometimes followed. I also intend to re-open the bookstore. Minhai Gui was imprisoned for two years and got released last year. However, he was held in detention in Ningbo until a few months ago when he was arrested again as he attempted to leave the country. 

從書店事件及桂民海的遭遇,反映了中國物質雖然富裕,但人權思想非常落後、野蠻。我再次感謝日內瓦人權組織,持續關注香港及中國的人權狀況,並繼續幫助中國發展成真正的現代文明國家。 

感謝各位。 

The Causeway Bay Books disappearances and what happened to Minhai Gui have shown that despite China’s economic prosperity, its idea of human rights is still lagging behind. Again, I would like to thank the Geneva Summit for its continuous attention to human right situation in Hong Kong and Mainland China, as well as its effort in helping China develop into a truly modern civilized nation. 

Thank you all so much. 

林榮基 2016年2月3日* 

Lam Wing Kee, February 3rd, 2016