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NEWSLETTER: US State Department supports Hong Kong activists

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On Monday the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong (CFHK) Foundation’s Policy and Advocacy Coordinator Frances Hui spoke at a closed-door roundtable with the US State Department regarding transnational repression by Hong Kong authorities. The meeting included Hong Kong activists subject to bounties for their arrest imposed by the Hong Kong government. Hui and others discussed the intimidation they face from Hong Kong authorities. Hui urged the US to prioritise human rights in its foreign policy and hold accountable those responsible for abuses in Hong Kong. The US State Department subsequently urged Hong Kong authorities “to immediately cease all efforts to intimidate people in Hong Kong and around the world, including those who call the US home."


Activists (L. to R.) Elmer Yuen, Joey Siu, Anna Kwok, and Frances Hui outside the U.S. Department of State.


On Thursday Hui was also invited to the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in the US Capitol, where she was recognised for her bravery in standing up to the Hong Kong authorities alongside Representative Chris Smith and other distinguished guests.


Frances Hui and Representative Chris Smith


JIMMY LAI'S TRIAL UPDATE

Today (Friday, February 9th 2024) Hong Kong prosecutors continued their sham case against former Apple Daily owner Jimmy Lai for practicing journalism. 


The pro-democracy paper’s erstwhile associate publisher Chan Pui-man told the Court that Apple Daily “amplified” reports questioning China's transparency regarding the Covid-19 outbreak. The prosecution has not shown how questioning China’s behaviour regarding Covid is a crime.


Chan also testified that Lai wanted coverage of  the extradition issue, real estate sales of listed companies, businesspeople who have been extradited, and the one-year anniversary of the US-China trade war. Clearly, this coverage amounts to nothing more than journalism. 


Moreover, these articles all took place prior to the implementation of the NSL in June 2020. Hong Kong authorities had previously claimed the law would not be applied retroactively.


Chan is among six senior Apple Daily employees who pleaded guilty to conspiring to collude with foreign forces in November 2022.


Last month the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong (CFHK) Foundation president and former Next Digital director Mark Clifford issued a statement regarding his former Apple Daily colleagues testifying against Lai. He said he did not “feel anger but immense sorrow” over the matter, and lamented that they “have been held as hostages almost three years since authorities forced Apple Daily to shut in mid-2021. They have pled guilty but remain behind bars, denied bail, so that they can be used as bit players in the ongoing show trial against Jimmy Lai.” 

CANADA

On Tuesday, the Canadian Parliament's Subcommittee on International Human Rights heard evidence concerning the trial and detention of Jimmy Lai. Speakers, including Lai's son, Sebastien, and Lai's international lawyer, Caoilfhionn Gallagher, criticised the National Security Law trial now underway in Hong Kong, describing it as emblematic of the erosion of the rule of law and democracy in Hong Kong. They highlighted issues such as coerced witness testimony, the naming of foreign citizens as co-conspirators, and the erosion of fundamental rights in the conduct of the trial. Additionally, they raised concerns about the involvement of foreign judges, including a Canadian judge, in Hong Kong's judiciary. The speakers called upon the Canadian government to address these concerns, implement sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials, and advocate for Lai's release.


US


In a letter to The Wall Street Journal, four former U.S. consuls general in Hong Kong expressed dismay over Jimmy Lai's trial, condemning the perceived defamation of respected figures and the trial itself. They stressed the importance of upholding Hong Kong's once-celebrated reputation and called for Lai's release, asserting his innocence. 


They also said Hong Kong authorities had “slandered” the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation Chairman James B. Cunningham, who served as consul general for Hong Kong and Macau from 2005 to 2008, by accusing him of being a “co-conspirator” in Lai’s case. Earlier today the Hong Kong government complained that the statement amounted to “interference” in judicial proceedings, and implied that it could potentially constitute contempt of court.


UK


In London, the CFHK Foundation held a Lunar New Year reception in the British Parliament attended by over 100 politicians, journalists, and NGOs on Tuesday. The host, Jim Shannon MP, gave a speech in support of those unable to celebrate due to the National Security Law (NSL), while UK and EU Director Mark Sabah called on the British Government to defend Hong Kongers and demand the NSL’s repeal. Attendees enjoyed a Cantonese Opera performance and a ‘Fai Chun’ calligraphy artist wrote messages of goodwill for all guests. The evening concluded with a rendition of Hong Kong's banned anthem, "Glory to Hong Kong".

Bob Seely MP and the CFHK Foundation’s UK and EU Director Mark Sabah at Tuesday’s celebration


THE 'FLAME OF FREEDOM' BLOG


This week’s blog post is by Arne Melsom, Deputy Chair at the Hong Kong Committee in Norway.


On Tuesday this week, Norway’s Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide met with his Chinese counterpart in Beijing. Eide, my country’s top diplomat, and Wang Yi held talks on tensions in the Middle East. The human rights abuses of Hong Kongers, Tibetans, Uyghurs and other minorities by Yi’s government were apparently deemed far less important, not even meriting a public mention.


Read More Here





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