Emily’s story – why Lib Dems must protect the human rights of Hong Kongers

I could only have ever joined the Liberal Democrats when I came to the UK from Hong Kong. Long before others, Paddy Ashdown fought for our right to come to the UK as British Nationals, and now Ed Davey and our parliamentarians continue to speak out to protect Hong Kongers and support those arriving in the UK. Some are dissidents, some come because they have family members here, but all are horrified at the behaviour of the CCP and the Hong Kong Authorities over recent years, killing democracy and removing human rights. 

Perhaps a real-life story will explain. “Emily” was a young mum who used to live in Hong Kong. Back in 2019, like most people in the city, she joined the peaceful protests against the Hong Kong government. She was fighting for not only her own civil liberties, but also for her family, particularly for her newborn child, so they could enjoy living in the city without fear.

But the Hong Kong National Security Law in 2020 and the crackdown of protest movements changed everything. Before, the city was a dynamic place with freedom guaranteed. Now, the city is under suppression. As Carrie Lam, the former Chief Executive, once said, “They have no stake in society which so many people have helped to build.” Protests against the government had become very risky, if not outrightly banned like the Tiananmen Square vigils.

“Emily” could not see the future of her family staying in the city, and followed her democratic beliefs. She decided to flee to the UK under the British National Overseas (‘BN(O)’) visa scheme – which Paddy had championed.

Once here she wanted to apply the right to abode for her newborn baby, so her child could live in an environment free from the fear of being arrested. When she spoke to the officials in the Home Office, astonishingly (& wrongly) they told her because her new-born child was born in Hong Kong, she needed to attend the Chinese embassy to obtain the relevant Chinese travel document before she could carry on with the application. 

In the coming days and weeks, she was in constant fear: If she attended the Chinese embassy, she was at risk of being arrested, and might never see her children again. There is evidence this has happened elsewhere.

Thankfully, through the support from Liberal Democrats, Emily is now able to continue the application without having to attend the Chinese embassy.

Emily is one of the few lucky ones who can seek legal advice and support, but hundreds of dissidents who fled to the UK may not receive any help at all or worse, get sent to the Chinese Embassy. 

And for thousands of families in Hong Kong who have not left the city yet, under the National Security Law, their freedom of expression was suppressed, and they are in fear of being arrested for the previous protest movements they participated in. In fact, this has happened in the last few months, when the Hong Kong families of dissidents who have already left were arrested and held simply for being a parent, spouse or sibling of a dissident.  

Once arrested, they may be at risk of being extradited to China, regardless of your nationality. Citizens in China are under constant surveillance with the highest concentration of CCTV per citizens in the world. Personal freedom is increasingly tightened, particularly after the introduction of Social Credit system. Under this system, each citizen will receive a social credit score from the government. Citizens would need the score to find jobs, apply schools, bank accounts, and train and plane tickets. If you criticised the government, you will receive a low score, hence you can’t work, travel, and open bank accounts. Social media are tightly monitored: all posts related to civil liberties would be deleted. 

Emily’s experience is just one of many shocking stories, and the Lib Dem Friends of Hong Kong need your help in protecting the human rights of Hong Kongers here, and those still in Hong Kong itself. 

 

* This article is anonymous and Emily is a pseudonym. We need to keep identities hidden to keep people safe.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.
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2 Comments

  • Ying Perrett 22nd Sep '23 - 5:39am

    Very enlightening. Brings awareness of the different struggles HK BNO migrants to the surface. Hope we can do more to help.

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