A human rights lawyer from Beijing, who went to Hong Kong this past weekend to observe the ongoing protests for himself, has confirmed that he is “safe” and back in China shortly after reports of him going missing emerged.
Chen Qiushi had intended to stay longer to gather more information about the unrest but pressure from the authorities ultimately forced him to cut his trip short, South China Morning Post reports.
The 33-year-old attorney has also made a name for himself as a public commentator. He decided to go to Hong Kong mainly to personally gather facts as he was not satisfied with the information he was getting from Chinese news media outlets.
Government-run news platforms have been actively criticizing the protesters in the past several weeks and branding the protests as riots that would eventually destroy Hong Kong.
After arriving in Hong Kong on Saturday as a tourist, he immediately attended a rally organized by pro-government supporters that day. The next day, he observed the demonstration of anti-government protesters which involved hundreds of thousands of members.
During his stay in Hong Kong, Chen was able to upload several video diaries along with his commentary on the protests via Weibo. The uploads have since been removed from his account which has over 770,000 followers. However, copies of the diaries are still available on YouTube.
In his last video upload, Chen explained that he had to cut his trip short because mainland police and lawyers associations have been forcing him to return to Beijing. He then went on to express concerns that his visit might result in him getting barred from practicing law.
“I’m showing everyone my lawyer’s license here. Why? Because it may not be mine anymore after I return,” he said. “I studied for three years for this ‘toy’ … If you asked me whether destroying three years of hard work in three days was worth it, I would say of course not. But there is nothing that I can do; I am who I am … I alone bear the consequences of my actions.”
Chen, who gained popularity on the mainland for joining a televised public speaking contest in 2014, became more widely known later for the social commentary videos he uploads on his Weibo account.
His abrupt return to China elicited concerns from human rights watchers and activists who expressed fears over what might befall him upon his arrival there.
In a WeChat post on Wednesday, Chen confirmed that he had returned to mainland China.
“I wish to see Hong Kong again without wearing a mask,” he said in a comment on his post which was later deleted.
Chen told SCMP later that he hoped that the ongoing political crisis could be resolved peacefully.
“I hope everyone could sit down for a rational conversation while keeping their love for a country and a city in mind,” he said. “I hope I can visit Hong Kong again and enjoy the city as a traveler.”
Featured Image via YouTube / 新中国频道