Families of some of the 12 young Hong Kong people detained in Shenzhen after allegedly trying to flee by boat to Taiwan are said to have received letters from them, hailing the conditions in the detention centre, as well as their treatment by the authorities.
A concern group linked to the families says the handwritten letters have similar content and "suspicious wording", with simplified Chinese characters and phrases not usually used by Hongkongers.
The Save 12 HK Youths Concern Group says letters received by seven of the families all stress that the detainees are well and that they should not worry, with some stating that they have not been beaten, forced to work, or confess under torture.
"I didn't get beaten up by people, my cellmates all have a very harmonious relationship. I eat well and sleep well ... I will return after shouldering my responsibility," says a letter purported to be from one of the detainees which was made public by the group.
Other letters are said to state that the detainees have met government-appointed lawyers in private, and they include pleas to the families not to try to visit the detention centre and not to say much to the media.
The group says family members recognise the handwriting in the letters, but find the content to be very suspicious, as if it was written in accordance with some kind of template.
"There are a number of suspicions regarding the wording, including the use of simplified Chinese characters and some Chinese writing styles that more closely resemble those used in mainland China than in Hong Kong. In particular the descriptions of life in the detention centre are largely similar," the concern group says in a statement.
It adds that the families doubt the detainees wrote the letters of their own free will, noting that mainland prisoners involved in human rights cases in the past have been forced to write letters to their families with the content dictated by the authorities.
Last month, executive councillor and local NPC deputy Ip Kwok-him said it was unlikely that the families would be able to meet the 12 activists before they are put on trial.
Ten of them are accused of entering mainland waters illegally on August 23, while Shenzhen prosecutors have said that the remaining two face a more serious charge of organising an illegal border crossing.
'No torture, no beatings' say letters from detainees
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