A prominent protester in Hong Kong went public for the first time in 14 months, telling the media that it was held in mainland China.
Alexandra Wong, 64, was nicknamed “Grandma Wong” and was often depicted waving a British flag at protests.
According to her, she was detained in August last year in the border town of Shenzhen and forced to resign in writing.
Ms. Wong said she was also sent on a “patriotic tour” of Shaanxi Province.
While there, she had to sing the national anthem, and she was photographed waving a Chinese flag. She was later released on bail, but was barred from returning to Hong Kong.
Last year̵7;s anti-government protests began in June 2019 over plans to allow extradition to mainland China, but later evolved into a broader movement that requires full democracy.
Hong Kong was a British colony until 1997, but was then returned to Chinese control on a “one country, two systems” basis. Although technically part of China, the territory has its own legal system and borders, and rights, including freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, are protected.
Speaking at an emotional press conference in Hong Kong on Saturday, Ms. Wong said she was initially detained by authorities in Shenzhen for a total of 45 days for “administrative detention” and “criminal detention.” However, she was not told what charges she faces.
“I was afraid I would die in this detention center,” she said.
After 45 days, she was told to tell the camera that she had not been tortured, she said, and that she would not protest or interview the media.
She was also forced to admit in writing that her activity was wrong – what she called “the worst thing I’ve ever done in my life.”
She was then sent to Shaanxi Province in northeast China before being released on bail for “quarreling and provoking trouble.”
She was not provided with any written documentation on these allegations.
For a year after her release on bail, she was only allowed to return to Shenzhen, the border town where she lives, and was barred from traveling to Hong Kong.
These conditions expired at the end of last month.
Ms. Wong told reporters that she “does not have the courage” to return to Shenzhen “unless there is a radical change in the political situation.”
“I will not give up the fight,” she added. “Eventually, there will be casualties, otherwise … the authoritarian system will not be changed.”
She also called for the release of 12 Hong Kong activists believed to be fleeing to Taiwan, who were intercepted at sea by mainland authorities in August.
Earlier this year, a wave of arrests of activists took place in Hong Kong under a controversial national security law passed by China in June.
The security law, which many in Hong Kong oppose, punishes what Beijing largely defines as sabotage, secession, terrorism, and conspiracy with foreign forces, up to and including imprisonment.