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Scottish Parliament motion calls for British citizen Jimmy Lai to be released from Hong Kong prison

29 September 2023 – On Jimmy Lai’s 1,000th day in prison in Hong Kong, the Scottish Parliament lodged a motion supported by 13 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) from all political parties, demanding that the UK government do more to free British citizen Jimmy Lai from his unjust detention in a Hong Kong prison.

The motion “urges the UK Government to recognise Mr Lai as a political prisoner and to call for his immediate release.”

Led by Ross Greer MSP of the Scottish Green Party, the motion titled ‘Jimmy Lai’ reads:

"That the Parliament notes with concern that 26 September 2023 will be the 1,000th day of imprisonment of the Hong Kong pro-democracy campaigner and British citizen, Jimmy Lai; understands that Mr Lai was first imprisoned under an unjust and juryless trial on the grounds of what it sees as the new, Beijing-imposed "national security law"; notes that a Hong Kong court has reportedly suggested a further delay to the latest national security trial of Mr Lai, which is now expected to start in December 2023 and last for 80 days, after a further delay of 12 months, which it believes was to allow authorities the time to rewrite the rules of the trial to deny the campaigner his choice of lawyer, and urges the UK Government to recognise Mr Lai as a political prisoner and to call for his immediate release, and for the Chinese and Hong Kong authorities to respect the human rights of all residents, journalists and pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong." The motion has been co-signed by 13 MSPs from all parties with the motion still open to parliamentarians to sign on to. Signatories include: Gillain Mackay MSP, Scottish Green Party; Bill Kidd MSP, Scottish National Party; Jeremy Balfour MSP, Conservative Party; David Torrance MSP, Scottish National Party; Kenneth Gibson MSP, Scottish National Party; Kevin Stewart MSP, Scottish National Party; Paul Sweeney MSP, Scottish Labour Party; John Mason MSP, Scottish National Party; Fulton MacGregor MSP, Scottish National Party; Evelyn Tweed MSP, Scottish National Party; Maggie Chapman MSP, Scottish Green Party; Stuart McMillan MSP, Scottish National Party; and Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP, Scottish Liberal Democrats. This motion follows the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation (CFHK Foundation) meeting MSPs in the Scottish Parliament and facilitating an event hosted by Jeremy Balfour MSP between Police Scotland and dozens of Hongkongers last week. Jimmy Lai is a 75-year-old British citizen who founded the Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily. As an outspoken critic of the Chinese Communist Party in Hong Kong, Lai is one of the most high-profile symbols of democracy. Ross Greer MSP said: "Spending 1,000 days in jail on nonsense charges is outrageous for anyone, but in the case of Jimmy Lai it's because he dared to stand up for the freedom of his fellow Hongkongers in the face of the Chinese Communist Party. For decades the Chinese Communist Party has viciously oppressed Tibetans, Uyghurs and the mainland Chinese population with Hong Kong as a rare beacon of relative freedom. Sadly, that is no longer the case. I am proud to stand with those defending freedom of speech and freedom of the press from authoritarian dictators. The message from Scotland is clear, Jimmy Lai should be freed immediately." Mark Sabah, UK and EU Director for the CFHK Foundation, said: "I am delighted to see so many MSPs from across the political spectrum join together to sign this motion and thank Ross Greer MSP for leading this initiative in support of Jimmy Lai. Scotland can play an outsized role in leveraging its connections and history with Hong Kong to stand up for British citizen Jimmy Lai and to protect all Hongkongers who settle in Scotland. We will continue to call on the British government to urge the Hong Kong authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Jimmy Lai."

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