Following an intervention by both the South African and British governments in China yesterday there has been some movement regarding 11 of the 20 detained individuals. Representatives of the three governments met in Erdos, Inner Mongolia, where protracted discussions took place but no formal charges were put to any of the 20 detainees. It was agreed that 11 will be "released", meaning that they will be held in detention until flights have been finalized for them out of China. The 6 British nationals permitted to leave have flights secured today and will arrive in the UK tomorrow. Flights were confirmed for the 5 South Africans for today also but the Chinese stalled and said they cannot leave today in spite of their earlier assurances. The 5 South Africans are now confirmed to fly out tomorrow if the Chinese don't stall them again, and are expected to land in South Africa on Friday.
We still have the problem of the other 5 South Africans, 3 British and 1 Indian national who are not free to leave and till yet have not been charged. The family of the South African group are considering appointing a Chinese human rights lawyer to represent the family but to defend what as no charges have been put to them. Information received from China this morning is very disconcerting as we were told that many of the top human rights lawyers have been arrested by the Chinese government. No charges have been put to the group but the Chinese have been very vague saying that someone in the group has some links to a suspected terror group and that someone has some links to a banned group and that the real reason for the incarceration is that someone was watching propaganda videos in the hotel. We now have received information that the Chinese government has put out a statement saying that criminal charges will be put to the group. We don't know what that means.
We call upon Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, to raise the issue of the detained South Africans directly with the highest authority in China as he and an entourage of government ministers and business executives are on a state visit to that country. It is inconceivable that a government hosts another government on a state visit and simultaneously incarcerates 10 of its citizens without charge. The Chinese must be told in no uncertain terms to provide the evidence and proof if the South Africans have terror links, charge them and take them to trial, alternatively, they must release them immediately and unconditionally. The conditions in the detention centre, apparently, are not good. Family members are extremely worried and want finality on the issue.