Teen bailed after being placed in care for drawing on Hong Kong protest site wall

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Story highlights

  • Girl, 14, bailed after being arrested and put into children's home for drawing on wall at former protest site
  • Court considering application from police that she be removed from father's care
  • Girl says she has no regrets about taking part in pro-democracy protest

Hong Kong (CNN)A 14-year-old girl has been bailed after being arrested and threatened with removal from her father's care for drawing flowers on a wall at a pro-democracy protest site in Hong Kong.

The girl was caught in the early hours of December 23 at a staircase leading to the Central Government Offices in the city's Admiralty district and was detained by police for 17 hours, said Patricia Ho, a solicitor who represented the teen and her family.
    A judge ruled in a youth court on Monday that the girl should be sent to a children's home for 20 days until January 19. However, on Wednesday evening the girl was released on bail after her lawyers filed an application for a re-hearing on bail conditions for the girl on Tuesday.
    The city's High Court allowed the girl to return home to live with her father up to January 19 provided she continues her studies and obeys a curfew from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. unless accompanied by her father, sister or a social worker.
    A spokesman for the city's social welfare department told CNN the department would write a report on the girl's case, which would look into the assessment of the needs of the care or protection of children or juveniles.
    They said the department could not specifically comment on the case as it has entered the judicial process but said the report should be published some time before the girl's court date on January 19.
    The wall, known as the "Lennon Wall," was once covered with colorful Post-it notes and messages of support for the recent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. When the protests were cleared, the notes were removed as well.
    Protesters started placing notes on the wall as a show of defiance after police used tear gas on demonstrators at the start of the protest, which led to a two-month occupation of the main road outside the Central Government Office.
    The wall was named after the late Beatles star John Lennon and contained messages of support for the protests and references to his song "Imagine."
    'Don't give up'
    In an interview with a local newspaper Ming Pao Daily, the teen said she did not regret taking part in the pro-democracy protests.
    The girl thanked protesters for supporting her and urged people to continue supporting the protests.
    "Don't give up on this movement, we've been doing this for three months, there needs to be more people, not just me alone."
    News of the arrest angered activists and prompted some small demonstrations in the city on New Year's Eve. Twenty-seven protesters staged a "die-in" at the International Finance Center (IFC), the site of one of the city's biggest shopping malls, and around 40 protesters attempted to write messages of support on "Lennon Wall" in the early hours of New Year's Day.
    On New Year's Eve some protesters started drawing on the road as a protest outside the children's home in the city's Tuen Mun district, where the teenager was held.
    Ho said the police application for the girl to be removed from her father's care was "premature and disproportionate."
    She added that the girl's father is seriously hearing impaired and cannot understand the case.
    "It wasn't an application by the Social Welfare Department as it usually would be," she said. "Police threw in a bunch of facts they obtained about the family in a very superficial manner."
    Gary Tsang, who participated in Hong Kong's pro-democracy street occupations, told CNN the teen was "an innocent political prisoner" and the use of the law in this case was "obviously politically motivated."
    "The government fears young people as they thinks young people have nothing to lose," he said.
    The move comes after police also made an application for a care or protection order for a teenage boy who was arrested during the clearance of another protest site in Mong Kok last month. The court file said the boy's parents failed to exercise proper guardianship over him.
    The court dates for both teenagers will take place in January.
    Continued resistance
    A small protest camp outside the Legislative Council still remains and there is a small police presence on the site. Police officers are guarding Lennon Wall and remove all notes posted to it at the end of each day.
    New Year's Eve countdown events at popular shopping districts such as Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui were canceled because of fears that protesters would attempt to hijack the events.
    Since the protest sites were cleared, demonstrators have resorted to other forms of protest such as the so-called "shopping revolution," which involves protestors blocking the sidewalks and flooding shopping districts every night with yellow umbrellas.
    Hong Kong Police have not responded to requests for comment.