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Police Crackdown on Chinese Migrants in Hong Kong - 2002-04-25


Hong Kong police have cleared hundreds of would-be immigrants and protesters from a city park where they had been living for months. Police ordered workers to take down banners, and remove the makeshift campsites. Police officers surrounded the park, and arrested at least three illegal migrants. They forced the rest to leave the area and their belongings.

Hundreds of illegal Chinese migrants and their families had been camping in the park to protest a government order to return to mainland China. The migrants are mainland citizens who slipped into Hong Kong to join relatives living legally in the city. Some have lived here for years under the impression they would eventually be granted residency. However, a January court ruling ended their legal battle to remain in Hong Kong.

A supporter of the migrants, Father Franco Mella, still hopes the government will grant special concessions to many of the migrants, known as right-of-abode seekers. He thinks the government in Beijing is hinting that they should be allowed to stay.

"We heard Chinese Vice President Mr. Hu Jintao say that he's confident the Hong Kong government will use a fair and good way to solve this issue. So they should listen to the leaders of the central government."

Wednesday, about 200 protesters surrounded the car belonging to the city's head of security, demanding that she rescind orders to deport the migrants. No one was hurt but the incident angered officials. Police Commissioner Tsang Yam-pui says the migrants' behavior has gotten out of hand.

"The behavior of those right-of-abode seekers and supporters, as displayed in last night's events, was irresponsible and is not to be tolerated. Police will continue to adopt a firm approach in dealing with any violent and threatening behavior."

Many of the illegal migrants went into hiding after an April 1 deadline to leave Hong Kong passed. So far, the police have arrested and deported about 20 of the 4,000 migrants.

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