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Allegedly-Abused Egyptian Coptic Couple Seeking Asylum in Hong Kong Go on Hunger Strike

The couple reportedly fled Egypt for fears of prosecution back in May.

Staff Writer

After fleeing persecution in Egypt, a Coptic Egyptian couple seeking refuge in Hong Kong are accusing the city state's immigration authorities of mistreatment and abuse, which comes in a time where a number of human rights activists and lawyers are raising similar concerns regarding Hong Kong's largest centre for immigration, according to Human Rights Lawyer Patricia Ho, South China Morning Post reports.

The Hong Kong authorities have allegedly attempted to send the couple back to Egypt after their arrival on May 31st. It took the couple almost 24 hours to be able to file an asylum claim, after which both were detained by the authorities. 

Unlawful detention is how Ho described the couple's current situation. "It's clear that their protection claims will take a long time to process. In the meantime, they should be free." 

According to South China Morning Post, the screening of protection claims in Hong Kong would often take years, with only lower than 1% of them eventually being accepted.

“Immigration tried to remove them when they tried to make a claim. This all happened behind closed doors at the airport. One has to question how often this happens,” Ho said. “Another issue is the way they have been treated at the immigration centre. This is not happening in an isolated manner.”

“I have received complaints of assault, inappropriate use of solitary confinement, deprivation of medical treatment and, on a bigger issue, the unlawful detention of asylum seekers who should have been put on recognisance pending determination of their claims,” Human Rights lawyer Michael Vidler said to South China Morning Post.

Copts worshipping at El Mahalla's St George's Church/ Getty