[dropcap font="" size="50px" background="" color="" circle="0" transparent="0"]A[/dropcap]mid Hong Kong’s affluence, the homeless are nearly invisible. It does seem like the authorities who evicted the street sleepers living in a park in December 2019 wanted to make them instantly disappear.
Hong Kong police and officials gave the homeless people three minutes to collect their belongings. But many of the people were not in the vicinity at the time.
The authorities gathered their belongings and threw them in a nearby garbage truck for their collection afterward, reports public broadcaster RTHK
. A few days later, they threw away the uncollected items.
In 2020, twelve of the affected street sleepers demanded compensation for their possessions, which they said included cash, a Chinese visa permit, bedding, and a wheelchair, reports Hong Kong Free Press
. The group sought compensation ranging from HK$2,200 to HK$13,290 (about US$280 to US$1,696.51).
Yuen Siu-bik, one of the claimants, lost a jacket that was a gift from her deceased sister. Yuen said it was difficult to ask for compensation for this item. She told HKFP
, “It’s not about the monetary value, but the meaning of the object.”
They won their lawsuit on Tuesday, March 29, after a court ruled that the authorities mistreated their belongings. It’s a bittersweet victory, though. Nine homeless people were each awarded HK$100 (US$12.77) each in compensation, reports the South China Morning Post
But one claimant is no longer around to receive the measly award. He succumbed to COVID-19 in early March.
In his ruling, the judge said he ordered the low compensation because the claimants had no photos or receipts of items, or other documents to show the value of the items they claimed were lost in the government operation, reports HKFP
Ng Wai-tung of the local advocacy group Society for Community Organization
filed the case on behalf of the street sleepers. He described the ruling as “delayed justice,” reports HKFP
A recent unofficial census by local non-governmental organizations found that over 500 people have become homeless since the pandemic started, reports SCMP
. They have joined the more than 1,500 people already sleeping on the streets and in shelters and temporary housing.Source: Wikimedia