Tens of thousands of overseas Hong Kongers rallied on streets and attended exhibitions and seminars on Sunday, which marked the third anniversary of the 2019 anti-extradition protest.
In more than 40 places including the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan and Taiwan, they showed protest-themed flags, banners and artwork, chanted slogans and sang songs that have been banned in Hong Kong under the National Security Law.
Some activists said they would continue to lobby western governments to sanction Hong Kong and Chinese officials, particularly by seizing their overseas assets. Some others focused on passing their messages to the next generation and preparing for a long-term fight against the Communist Party of China (CPC).
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who will end her five year team by the end of this month, said Sunday the government had done nothing wrong in the extradition saga in 2019. Lam said she believed the next government would strengthen patriotic education for youngsters.
In April 2019, the Hong Kong government submitted to the Legislative Council for the first reading an extradition law bill, which would provide legal grounds to send Hong Kong suspects overseas and to mainland China.
Lam said at that time that the proposed extradition law would enable the extradition of a Hong Kong man called Chan Tong-kai, who was accused of killing his 20-year-old pregnant girlfriend Poon Hiu-wing in Taiwan, to the island.
Since June 2019, at least 10,501 political arrests have been made in Hong Kong, according to the Hong Kong Democracy Council (HKDC), a Washington-based non-governmental organization.
There are now 1,014 political prisoners in Hong Kong – more than three-fourths of them under the age of 30, more than half under 25 and more than 15% minors, the HKDC said in a report on May 25.
Hong Kong has one of the fastest growing populations of political prisoners in the world, rivaling Belarus, Burma and Cuba, it added.
Since the launch of the National Security Law in Hong Kong, at least 100,000 people have moved to the United Kingdom through the British National Overseas (BNO) citizenship scheme while tens of thousands have left the city with their foreign passports and through some lifeboat schemes.
These emigrants now take up what they consider their responsibility to continue the protests overseas and rebuild civil society as millions of others are staying in Hong Kong for different reasons.
“We have seen brutality and people being persecuted in Hong Kong. We may have to forfeit a lot of our things and leave behind our families and friends in Hong Kong but we have to believe that this is the process for us towards success,” Nathan Law, a former LegCo member who fled to the UK in 2020, said in a rally in London’s Parliament Square on Sunday.
“The story of Hong Kong is not only about Hong Kong. It’s about how a group of brave people stand up against authoritarianism and totalitarianism,” said Law, who has been actively lobbying British politicians over Hong Kong’s issues. “We have to remind people not to take freedom and democracy for granted.”
“China has broken the Sino-British Joint Declaration. It wasn’t the UK’s fault. But the UK has not done a single thing to hold China to account for it,” said Luke de Pulford, the founder of Arise, a London-based anti-slavery charity. “We haven’t even registered an objection under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties for what China has done.”
Activist Finn Lau said overseas Hong Kong people should try every means to pass the message to the next generation and prepare for a long-term fight against the Chinese authoritarian regime. Lau said they should set a target, such as within two generations, to liberate Hong Kong.
Separately, more protests were held in other UK cities, including Manchester, Edinburgh, Liverpool and Reading on Sunday. Over the weekend, activists also organized an art exhibition, called “Bricks on the Road: From Hong Kong to the World,” and an event called “Repower HKers” with seminars and market stalls to try to rebuild Hong Kong’s civil society.
Ivan Ko, a former property developer and the founder of the Victoria Harbor Group (VHG), which organizes and sponsors the HK Fair within the Repower HKers event, said more should be done to help Hong Kong people settle and make a living in the UK so that they can keep contributing to Hong Kong’s democratic movements.
Ko said he hoped UK-based Hong Kong media workers could come together and one day set up a Cantonese media outlet overseas.
Steve Vines, a former Hong Kong-based British journalist, said he and some veteran media workers had recently set up a group called the Association of Overseas Hong Kong Media Professionals (AOHKMP), to see how former Hong Kong journalists could return to their professions overseas.
Benedict Rogers, chief executive and cofounder of Hong Kong Watch, said if a Cantonese media outlet was established overseas, journalists could choose to remain anonymous so that their families in Hong Kong would be free from safety threats or political pressure.
Read: Get rich being a snitch in China
Follow Jeff Pao on Twitter at @jeffpao3