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Hong Kong cancels passports of six 'fugitive' pro-democracy activists

Photo: Henry Nicholls Agence France-Presse Among the six activists concerned is Nathan Law, one of the leading figures of the pro-democracy movement and a former elected official in the financial centre's Legislative Council.

Holmes Chan – Agence France-Presse in Hong Kong

Published at 0:38

  • Asia

The Hong Kong government announced on Wednesday the cancellation of the passports of six pro-democracy activists who “fled” to the United Kingdom to escape the repression of dissent in the Chinese territory, calling them “criminals without faith or law”.

Last year, the Hong Kong executive put a price on the heads of 13 pro-democracy activists who had taken refuge abroad, by accusing him of breaches of the draconian national security law. A reward of one million Hong Kong dollars (119,000 euros) is offered for the capture of each of them.

“They continue to openly engage in activities that threaten national security […] We have therefore taken measures to deal them a severe blow,” a government spokesperson said in a statement on Tuesday, citing in particular “the cancellation” of their passports issued by Hong Kong.

Among the six activists concerned are: Nathan Law, one of the leading figures of the pro-democracy movement and former elected official within the Council legislature of the financial center, veteran trade unionist Mung Siu-tat and activists Simon Cheng, Finn Lau, Fok Ka-chi and Choi Ming-da.

To justify this measure , the Hong Kong authorities invoked the second national security law which came into force in March, which stems from Article 23 of the “Basic Law”, the mini Constitution of Hong Kong, obliging local authorities since 1997 to adopt a law protecting its national security.

“Act of Transnational Repression”

Finn Lau explained that he had never held a British Overseas (BNO) passport, issued to Hong Kongers born before the handover of the colony to China in 1997.

“It is ridiculous to cancel something that never existed,” he said in a statement published on the social network X.

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Determined to continue “defending human rights and democracy,” he believes that “such recourse to the Article 23 order […] is an explicit act of transnational repression and another violation of the Sino Joint Declaration -British”.

Signed in 1984, it guarantees Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy “at least until 2047”.

Nathan Law called the measure “superfluous” since he was granted asylum in Britain in 2021.

« other measures taken under (the national security law), if they cause concern among friends in Hong Kong, please put your personal safety first,” Mr. Law wrote on Facebook.

“Prosecuted for life”

Chief Executive John Lee — sanctioned by the United States for its role as security chief in 2019 — said wanted militants would be “pursued for life” and called on them to surrender.

The authorities specified that anyone providing funds, renting property or managing a business with these activists is liable to seven years of imprisonment.

The six people named Wednesday were charged with foreign collusion, incitement to secession and subversion, offenses that violate the national security law and are punishable by life imprisonment.

This announcement comes at the time of the fifth anniversary of the huge, sometimes violent, demonstrations of the pro-democracy movement which began in spring 2019.

In June 2020, Beijing imposed a first national security law to repress the movement and muzzle any dissent. This text brought down the legal shield in force in Hong Kong, a formerly semi-autonomous territory, allowing accused people to be held accountable throughout the world.

In December, Hong Kong added five activists to the wanted list, provoking the anger of the United States and Great Britain where some of them took refuge.

“This is a threat to our democracy and our fundamental human rights,” declared British Foreign Minister David Cameron.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116