Updated: Jul 31
The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation (CFHK Foundation) has today signed an open letter alongside six other Hong Kong NGOs to British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. The letter urges Mr Sunak to condemn British citizen Jimmy Lai’s recent sentencing of nearly six years on bogus charges and to call for his immediate release. Hong Kong Watch, Hong Kongers in Britain, Hong Kong Aid, Scottish Hong Kongers, Stand With Hong Kong and Hong Kong Liberty all signed the letter. CFHK Foundation’s Olivia Enos urged a member of the US Congress to adopt Jimmy Lai as a political prisoner as part of stepped-up advocacy to ensure his release. Enos wrote in Forbes that, although Lai has been adopted as a Religious Prisoner of Conscience by U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom's former Commissioner, Johnnie Moore, there remains an opportunity for congressional adoption. Through the Defending Freedoms Project (DFP) run by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, members of Congress can adopt political prisoners from around the globe. According to the DFP website, not a single Hong Konger has been adopted by a member.
On 10th December, International Human Rights Day, Jimmy Lai was sentenced to five years and nine months in prison following his conviction for fraud in a contractual dispute, noted The Guardian. Lai’s sentencing, as part of the Hong Kong government’s ongoing campaign to eradicate personal liberty and press freedom in the city, precedes his upcoming National Security Law trial. Speaking to Oliver Young from the China Digital Times, CFHK Foundation’s Mark Clifford said Jimmy Lai’s “jury-free [National Security Law] trial holds little hope for justice and will likely become just another marker in the dismantling of the rule of law in Hong Kong.” Following his sentencing over the weekend, Jimmy Lai’s national security trial was delayed until September 2023 as the prosecution said it was waiting on a decision from Beijing on whether to allow Lai international counsel, reported Al Jazeera. Lai’s trial will now start more than 1000 days since he was first arrested and jailed on National Security Law allegations. Human Rights Watch joined the chorus of condemnation over the delay of Mr Lai’s trial. The human rights organization outlined numerous violations of Lai’s legal rights in their latest press release: notably prolonged pretrial detention, no jury trial, and the Hong Kong Government's hand-picking of judges. Maya Wang, associate Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said the authorities should "drop their bogus charges against Jimmy Lai and free him and his six co-defendants.” The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) this week reported that the number of journalists jailed around the world set another record in 2022. Their report stated that 363 reporters were deprived of their freedom as of 1stDecember 2022, with China in the top five jailers of journalists. CPJ featured Jimmy Lai in their report and said, “The treatment of Lai, incarcerated since December 2020, is seen as emblematic of authorities’ growing disregard for due process and the 'one country, two systems' arrangement guaranteeing Hong Kong’s judicial independence from China.”
Hong Kong’s High Court ruled that the police’s decision to ban a Tiananmen Square vigil last year was “unlawful.” The decision overturns the conviction of pro-democracy activist Chow Hang-tung, who helped organize the event, reported CNN. Chow was convicted in January 2022 for inciting others to participate in the 2021 vigil and was sentenced to 15 months in prison. She remains in prison however as she faces further prosecutions, including national security charges. Google has refused to remove Glory to Hong Kong as Hong Kong’s national anthem as the top search, following a request from Hong Kong authorities to remove it. The Guardian reported that Hong Kong’s security secretary Chris Tang said, “We have approached Google to request that they put the correct national anthem at the top of their search results, but unfortunately Google refused. We felt great regret and this has hurt the feelings of Hong Kong people.” The former editor of Stand News Chung Pui-kuen was released on bail after being remanded in custody for nearly a year. His bail conditions include a ban on media interviews and the confiscation of his travel documents, reported Reuters.
UK - China Relations
UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly announced that the six Chinese consulate diplomats that were involved in the attack on Bob Chan in Manchester were to be removed by China. The UK had requested the officials waive their right to diplomatic immunity to allow the police to question them by this week, however now they will not face justice, reported the BBC. Cleverly stated, “It is right that those responsible for the disgraceful scenes in Manchester are no longer – or will shortly cease to be – consular staff accredited to the UK.” UK Security Minister Tom Tugendhat delivered a speech this week about defending democracy in an era of state threats, outlying that he will lead the Defending Democracy Taskforce. Tugendhat mentioned China and how it is using its United Front Work Department in order to silence academics in the UK, and its overseas police stations to stifle free expression in diaspora communities in the UK. James Cleverly delivered his first major speech as UK Foreign Secretary this week, in which he stated that Britain must let go of the “comfort blanket” of old alliances to counter the threat posed by China and Russia. Before the speech, Cleverly stated China was “an important partner for good” and the UK could “work together” on mutual interests. These comments received criticism from Conservative backbench MPs including Sir Iain Duncan Smith and Tobias Ellwood, who stated “We are increasingly in denial about where this is taking our world which on current trajectory will splinter into two dangerously competing spheres of influence,” reported the Express.
Dear friends, The Committee For Freedom Foundation appreciates your readership and your support. We have a packed schedule of events and advocacy planned for 2023, and would appreciate your donation which will help in holding events and advocacy that put a spotlight on the abuses of freedom in Hong Kong. You can donate through our website The Committee For Freedom In Hong Kong Foundation or contact Tara Joseph, Director of Development email@example.com. Thank you in advance!