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The world reacts as Jimmy Lai spends 1,000 days behind bars in Hong Kong

Jimmy Lai

This week marked British citizen Jimmy Lai’s 1,000th day in prison in Hong Kong. The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation (CFHK Foundation) led 66 organisations in co-signing a joint letter to U.S. President Joe Biden, urging him to hold Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee accountable for the unjust imprisonment of Jimmy Lai and other political prisoners in Hong Kong. The CFHK Foundation also signed a joint letter led by the Committee to Protect Journalists to British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, calling on him to take action to secure the immediate and unconditional release of Jimmy Lai.

Members of the British Parliament (MP) and Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) joined the CFHK Foundation in a social media campaign calling on the British government to press for the release of Jimmy Lai. Former National Basketball Association (NBA) star Enes Kanter Freedom also created a video in support of Jimmy Lai on his 1,000th day in prison.

Tim Loughton MP, Jim Shannon MP and Mark Clifford, President of the CFHK Foundation, co-authored an editorial in The Scotsman, calling on Rishi Sunak to stand up for Jimmy Lai on his 1,000th day behind bars in Hong Kong. They wrote, “On Lai’s 1000th day in prison, Cleverly and Sunak should also reaffirm his British citizenship. China adopts a racial identity policy, claiming that someone born Chinese is forever Chinese. Lai has only one passport. It is British. He has never had a Chinese travel document.”

Bob Seely MP wrote about the increasing danger of doing business in Hong Kong in Conservative Home, referring to Jimmy Lai as "the canary in the Hong Kong coal mine". “Arbitrary arrests, raids, and the freezing of executive accounts are real and serious possibilities for businesses that continue to operate in Hong Kong. Today it is a 75-year-old British citizen behind bars. Who will it be tomorrow?” he warned.

Megan Khoo from the CFHK Foundation spoke to NTD News about the CFHK Foundation’s campaign to free Jimmy Lai on his 1,000th day in Hong Kong prison. The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Times, Forbes, The Washington Post, TIME, NBC News, The Independent, The Washington Post, Central News Agency Taiwan, The Chaser News, and other news outlets also covered Jimmy Lai’s 1,000th day behind bars, urging U.S. and U.K. government officials to stand up for Jimmy Lai, a symbol of democracy.

The Hong Kong government “strongly condemned and opposed the misleading and slanderous remarks” by the CFHK Foundation, other human rights organisations, and overseas journalists on Jimmy Lai’s 1,000th day in prison. The Commissioner’s Office of China’s Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong also reacted, stating, “The likes of Jimmy Lai have long been firmly nailed to the pillar of humiliation for betraying the motherland and the people, and must be duly punished under the rule of law. We urge a few politicians of the US and some other Western countries to respect the spirit of the rule of law, stop their futile efforts to whitewash criminals, and stop undermining the judicial system of [Hong Kong]!”

Chinese delegates at the United Nations (UN)circulated a letter to fellow UN diplomats urging them to boycott a side event on media freedom in Hong Kong featuring Sebastien Lai. Mark Sabah, UK and EU Director of the CFHK Foundation told Radio Free Asia Cantonese, “China's attempt to boycott this event is yet another appalling act of Chinese interference at the United Nations.” The Wall Street Journal reported that Beijing’s boycott backfired, as 25 UN member states attended the event.

Stephen Vines, former President of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Hong Kong and exiled journalist, authored this week’s 'Flame of Freedom' blog describing how the U.K. government should engage with China. “A good start could be made by a vigorous effort to secure the freedom of British citizen Jimmy Lai who, on 26 September, will have spent 1,000 days behind bars in Hong Kong for the crime of advocating democracy and upholding the values of freedom of expression,” he wrote.

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