HONG KONG • A Hong Kong protester popularly known as "Grandma Wong" said yesterday that the Chinese authorities kept her in custody for 11/2 months across the border in Shenzhen, where she allegedly suffered mental abuse, and then prevented her from coming back for more than a year.
Grey-haired and bespectacled Madam Alexandra Wong, 64, had been a familiar face at anti-government protests in Hong Kong last year, often waving a large British flag, but she disappeared from the streets around August last year.
Activists and human rights groups had expressed concern over her whereabouts.
Speaking to the media for the first time since her release after completing 14 days in quarantine, Madam Wong said she was detained by Chinese police when she tried to return to her home in Shenzhen on Aug 14 last year.
She said that during about 11/2 months' detention at various centres, where up to 26 people would sleep in a room of less than 200 sq ft, she was being interrogated almost every day about the Hong Kong protests.
"I didn't know what crime I committed," she said.
The Shenzhen Municipal Public Security Bureau could not be reached for comment.
Madam Wong said that after the detention, she was sent to the north-western province of Shaanxi for a five-day patriotic camp in late September last year.
Until early this month, Madam Wong had been restricted by the authorities from returning to Hong Kong, pending a trial that never took place in the end.
She stayed in her home in Shenzhen where she would get regular visits by the national security officers, she said.
"I was scared I would be stopped from coming back to Hong Kong... I was scared every day something might happen again," she added.
Madam Wong called for the release of the 12 activists who were intercepted at sea in late August this year by the mainland authorities as they tried to flee by boat to Taiwan.
"I'm worried about the 12 young people; their treatment could be worse than mine."