More than two dozen people staged a protest outside Immigration Tower on Monday over the detention and deportation of an Indonesian helper who had been active at protest sites.
Yuli Riswati – who won an award last year for her writing – used to report on the ongoing anti-government agitation for a Hong Kong-based Indonesian newspaper, also writing about the unrest on social media.
But she was detained in September after her helper visa was found to have expired, and she was deported on Monday.
The demonstrators outside Immigration Tower said Yuli had a valid two-year employment contract but forgot to extend her visa after renewing her passport.
The protesters accused the Immigration Department of political persecution.
Lau Ka-mei, an organising secretary for the Confederation of Trade Unions, said in cases similar to Yuli's, the department usually takes a more conciliatory approach and grants visas.
"We have received these kind of cases, enquiries from the workers. Usually they can get the visa extension quickly, maybe on the same day," she said.
That is why Yuli's case was different and immigration officials took the unusual step of going to her residence and arresting her, said Lau.
She told RTHK's Joanne Wong that these actions have scared other migrant workers, who know think their views could get them deported.
The Immigration Department said it could not comment on individual cases. It added that if anyone is found violating their visa conditions, the department will take action, including possible arrest and deportation.