A prominent Hong Kong protester has made her first public appearance in 14 months, telling the media she had been held in China.
Alexandra Wong, 64, also named Grandma Wong was often pictured waving a British flag at various protests.
She said she was detained last August within the border city of Shenzhen and made to renounce her activism in writing.
Ms. Wong said she was also sent on a “patriotic tour” of Shaanxi province.
While there, she had to sing the anthem and was photographed waving the Chinese flag. She was then released on bail, she said but was forbidden from returning to Hong Kong.
Last year’s anti-government protests began in June 2019 over plans to allow extradition to China but later morphed into a broader movement demanding full democracy.
Hong Kong was a British colony until 1997, but was then returned to Chinese control under the principle of “one country, two systems”. While it’s technically a neighborhood of China, the territory has its own system and borders, and rights including freedom of assembly and free speech are protected.
Speaking at an emotional press conference in Hong Kong on Saturday, Ms. Wong said she was initially detained by the authorities in Shenzhen for an entire 45 days, for “administrative detention” and “criminal detention”. However, she wasn’t told what charges she was facing.
“I was afraid I’d die therein bullpen,” she said.
At the top of the 45 days she was told to declare on camera that she hadn’t been tortured, she said, which she wouldn’t protest or do interviews with the media.
She was also forced to confess in writing that her activism was wrong – something she described as “the worst thing I did in my life”.
After this, she was sent to Shaanxi province, in north-east China, before being released on bail pending trial for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”.
She wasn’t given any written documentation of these charges.
For a year after her release on bail, she was only allowed to travel back to Shenzhen, the border city where she lives, and was forbidden from going to Hong Kong.
These conditions expired late last month.
Ms. Wong told reporters that she had no courage to return to Shenzhen “unless there is a radical change within the political situation”.
“I won’t hand over fighting,” she further added that after all, there will be a sacrifice, or else the authoritarian system won’t be changed.