‘Nightmarish’ 72 hours in isolation recounted in Joshua Wong letter

Published (HKT): 2020.12.02 10:13

Democracy activist Joshua Wong has criticized his treatment by Hong Kong’s prison authorities, saying that his stay in medical isolation last week was “worse than regular solitary confinement.”

In a new letter written under detention, Wong said that according to correctional officers, an X-ray scan revealed “foreign objects” in his stomach and so he needed to be kept in isolation until the objects were identified.

He ended up staying for 72 hours in a room under around-the-clock bright lights, which he could not leave apart from showers and daily visits by family and friends. The young activist also had to excrete on a plastic plate for officers to check for drugs.

“While I thought it was a normal procedure to see the doctor, I was taken to a single cell at the end of the hospital corridor. At that moment, I knew it was the beginning of a nightmare,” he wrote in the letter, dated Nov. 25.

Wong was remanded in custody on Nov. 23 after he pleaded guilty to organizing and taking part in an unauthorized assembly outside the police headquarters in June 2019. He is awaiting sentencing on Wednesday along with Ivan Lam and Agnes Chow, two other former leaders of the now-disbanded Demosisto.

“Although I have been in prison three times, being held in the prison isolation unit is far beyond my expectation,” he wrote. “As the officers suspected I possessed drugs in my body, the treatment was even worse than normal solitary confinement.”

There was nothing unusual in his stomach, he said, as he had consumed normal food before being taken into custody. He was unable to verify the X-ray scans as the prison administration did not allow it.

While in medical isolation, Wong was not allowed to move around by spending time in an activity room or getting the standard one-hour break outdoors, privileges normally provided to other inmates. Officers would check his blood pressure and oxygen saturation every four hours, he said.

“I still remember the uncomfortable feeling when I saw the form clearly stating ‘suspected possession of drugs in the inmate’s body’ every time I signed the paper,” he wrote.

“The light in the cell was also kept on 24 hours a day, so I needed to use my facial mask as a blindfold to barely put myself to sleep.”

He concluded the letter by saying that he felt “uneasy and anxious,” but urged the public to keep fighting and to pay attention to the plight of 12 Hongkongers detained in mainland China.

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