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Thursday, 31 January, 2002, 06:29 GMT
Hong Kong returnees 'beaten in China'
Right of abode seekers cry as they have their heads shaved in protest against deportation
Mainlanders had their heads shaved in protest
Some mainland Chinese who recently lost their bid to stay in Hong Kong have been fined, detained and beaten on returning to China, activists said on Wednesday.

Those who chose to go back actually paid heed to the government, but they were still punished

Right of Abode activist
Hong Kong officials had previously assured the migrants that they would not be punished for overstaying their visas or illegally entering Hong Kong.

But Fu Kai-Hui, a representative for the Right of Abode committee - a support group for the mainlanders - said five people were detained by customs officers and asked to pay fines of more than $600.

She said three who could not pay were detained and beaten.

They were among thousands of mainland Chinese who have been given until the end of March to leave Hong Kong, after losing a lengthy legal battle over their right to stay in the territory.

'No complaints'

Government officials in Hong Kong said they had not yet received any formal complaints over the treatment of departing migrants.

Twin sisters Lin Yok-oi, left, and Lin Yeung-ming
These twin sisters risk separation as a result of the ruling
"We have an agreement with mainland authorities that if they return to the mainland with identification documents from the Immigration Department before 31 March, they will not be punished," a spokeswoman said.

"But if what they claim is true, we will surely pursue the matter with the Chinese Government," she added.

Ms Fu, who is one of those who must return to the mainland, said that many in her position were now afraid to return.

"Those who chose to go back actually paid heed to the government, but they were still punished," she said.

Nearly 5,000 mainland Chinese citizens were devastated by a ruling by Hong Kong's highest court on 10 January that only about 200 of the migrants could remain in the territory.

See also:

11 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
China wants HK migrants back
10 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
In Pictures: HK migrants lose appeal
10 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
HK immigrants lose right to stay
02 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Families face Hong Kong uncertainty
19 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Chinese stowaways nabbed in HK
10 Dec 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: China
31 Dec 97 | Events of the year
Hong Kong handed over to China
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