Lam Wing Kee: HK bookseller ‘won’t lead march due to safety fears’

Image copyrightEPA
Image caption Arrangements are being made to take Lam Wing Kee to a safe house

A Hong Kong bookseller who was due to lead the city’s annual pro-democracy march has dropped out, due to fears for his personal safety.

Lam Wing Kee, one of five booksellers who went missing last year, has been physically followed by strangers, a lawmaker said.

Mr Lam returned to Hong Kong in June after eight months, saying he had been detained in the mainland.

The missing men were linked to books critical of China’s leaders.

Some in Hong Kong feel the treatment of the booksellers is a sign of Beijing’s growing social and political influence in the city.

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Albert Ho, a lawmaker who has been advising 61-year-old Mr Lam, told the BBC: “He feels he is under intense surveillance.”

“He has been physically followed by unknown people. He is under intense pressure.”

Mr Ho added that arrangements were being made for Mr Lam to go to a safe house.

Image copyrightGetty Images
Image caption Organisers expect up to 100,000 people to turn up at the march to mark 19 years since Hong Kong’s handover from Britain to China

‘Black-mask rally’

The 1 July march marks nineteen years since the city’s handover from Britain to China.

This year’s march is expected to call for the resignation of Chief Executive CY Leung, who has faced criticism for what protesters say was a failure to protect the booksellers.

“They are angry with the current government and very disappointed at how things are managed,” organiser Jackie Hung of the Civil Human Rights Front told AFP.

A separate pro-independence “black-mask” rally is also planned outside China’s liaison office by the growing localist movement in protest over Mr Lam’s treatment.

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Police say that the pro-independence protests have not asked for required permission and have warned that they will take “resolute and effective actions” against illegal acts.

Organisers expect up to 100,000 people to attend this year. Last year’s anniversary democracy rally saw an estimated 48,000 people take part, with police placing the number at 20,000.

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