A fledgling campaigner, still in secondary school, posed for a photo with a Hong Kong Independence sign at a demonstration in 2017. He was then arrested and imprisoned. Hongkonger, Honcques Laus, now 18, is the youngest of six pro-democracy activists to be branded ‘fugitives of justice’ by the Hong Kong police.
The National Security Law that the Chinese Communist Party has imposed on Hong Kong, breaking their treaty with the United Kingdom, has already seen many people arrested. The decision to enact the legislation was passed by China’s National People’s Congress on 28th May 2020, with only one delegate voting against the proposal. Several major political arrests were made under the law in the city-state on 1st July. However, these were not the first nor the last arrests of their kind.
Laus fled to seek political asylum in the United Kingdom at the end of June, just before the enactment of the National Security Law in Hong Kong. Like many of his activist counterparts, he will not be eligible for the British National (Overseas) visa which applies to Hong Kong nationals born before 1997. Honcques told Eat News, “China’s Evil National Security Law is a blatant violation of freedom of speech and human rights, and I would be politically persecuted by reason of my political opinion in Hong Kong. Consequently, I have moved to Great Britain, and I have applied for political asylum at London Heathrow Airport. I am very appreciative of all the support the UK government and Members of Parliament have given the Hong Kong democratic protesters.”
Speaking about his reasoning for fleeing Hong Kong, Laus said that when he was a secondary school student, in 2017, he demonstrated against Carrie Lam, posing for photos with a Hong Kong Independence sign. “After that, I was subject to a politically motivated arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment by the Hong Kong government.” Following this, he resigned himself to the fact that he had been, and would continue to be, highly politically targeted by the government.
In July 2019, Laus went to the UK and the US Consulates to request the imposition of sanctions against some pro-China politicians who had been accused to violating the freedoms of Hong Kongers. In August, he published his book 輕論時政, approving of state independence, and criticising the government, “Because of my political opinion – approving of freedom of speech, democracy, Hong Kong Independence, and requesting international community to impose sanctions against the Hong Kong government – I knew I would be politically persecuted by the Hong Kong and Chinese governments.”
Journalists eventually confirmed to Honcques that he was being sought after by the government, “What the Hong Kong government has done with the China’s National Security Law is obviously political persecution, by reason of my political opinion.” Laus and many others have called for sanctions to be imposed upon the CCP, “including immigration bans, asset freezes and trade sanctions. The sanctions could defend the freedom of speech and human rights of Hongkongers and to make tyrants pay the price for oppression. China’s National Security Law offends everyone around the globe, as it is applied to anyone who is courageous enough to criticise the bad policy of Hong Kong or China.”
He will not be able to return to Hong Kong until he is no longer sought under the National Security Law now being imposed in his homeland.
Honcques Laus now awaits the decision of the UK government as to whether or not he will be granted political asylum, but he remains confident that the decision will be the right one, “I trust the UK government and MPs. They really support Hong Kong democratic protester. I am so grateful to them. I would like to proceed my university programme in the UK. Besides that, as I could enjoy freedom of speech in the UK, I also would like to express my political opinion freely in the UK and publish my political philosophy book in the UK.”
Laus may be one of six named ‘fugitives of justice’, but he is amongst many hundreds who have fled or are planning to flee Hong Kong for fear of being politically arrested and imprisoned.
As the infringements on freedom persist and intensify, Hong Kong police arrested media tycoon Jimmy Lai, the most high-profile arrest to date. On Monday 10th August, they enacted a raid on Lai’s publishing company, Next Digital, which publishes the Apple Daily tabloid.
The Foreign Correspondents Club, Hong Kong, said in a statement, “Just as troubling as the arrests was the subsequent police action at the Next Digital offices, where uniformed police entered and set up cordons with orange tape, questioned journalists and took down their identifying information, and were seen rifling through notes and papers on reporters’ desks. The Hong Kong Police Force blocked several local and international media outlets from a press briefing at the Apple Daily headquarters about the events.”
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