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Hong Kong activists in Britain speak out despite safety fears after arrest warrants

Hong Kong police issued arrest warrants for eight overseas-based activists, accusing them of national security offences, including foreign collusion, and offered rewards for information leading to their arrest.

Reuters
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Photos of eight activists who have been issued arrest warrants over national security are displayed during a press conference in Hong Kong, China July 3. Photo: Reuters
Photos of eight activists who have been issued arrest warrants over national security are displayed during a press conference in Hong Kong, China July 3. Photo: Reuters

Two Hong Kong activists living in Britain, who were subjects of arrest warrants for alleged national security offences, said on Wednesday they will continue to highlight China's crackdown on freedoms despite fears for their safety.

Hong Kong police issued arrest warrants for eight overseas-based activists on Monday, accusing them of national security offences, including foreign collusion, and offered rewards for information leading to their arrest.

Christopher Mung, a trade union activist, said this was an attempt to strike fear in pro-democracy activists both in Hong Kong and overseas that would not work.

"If we stop what we're doing because of the fear, because of this type of intimidation, we are actually going to encourage the Chinese government to do more intimidation, to do more arrest warrants, and that is unacceptable," he told reporters in Britain's parliament.

Hong Kong police have offered rewards of US$127,656 (about RM600,000) for information leading to each possible arrest.

The activists are wanted under a national security law that Beijing imposed on Hong Kong in 2020.

Bob Seely, a British member of parliament who hosted the briefing, said the arrest warrants were "a Communist fatwa" intended to intimidate pro-democracy activists from Hong Kong and the British government by putting pressure on officials to distance themselves from them.

"This is part of a much wider issue about how we deal with an increasingly authoritarian and aggressive Chinese state," he said.

Finn Lau, another activist now based in Britain, told Reuters he will continue to speak out.

"We have to keep on fighting on behalf of those who cannot. I've got friends detained in Hong Kong prisons. We got well, lots of Hong Kongers who want to do something in Hong Kong, but they couldn't because of the invisible red line set by the authorities," he said.

Lau said he would like to meet with British officials from the Home Office, who are in charge of policing, because he is worried about what could happen to him.

In the past, Lau said he has been followed from public events in Britain and Home Office officials ignored a previous request to meet to discuss his situation.

"To be honest, I don’t feel that safe to be in the UK," he said. "Years ago, I tried to contact the Home Office to talk about cases of harassment, but so far I have not got even a single meeting."

A spokesman for the Home Office said attempts by foreign governments to "coerce, intimidate, harass or harm their critics overseas" are unacceptable and the government is currently reviewing its approach to transnational repression.

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