A Canadian legal activist warned the federal government to grant asylum to democracy activists in Hong Kong and extend the solution to those who have relations with Canada before China prevents them from leaving.
The warning came Monday from Avvy Go, director of the China and Southeast Asia Legal Clinic, which has helped bring Hong Kong pro-democracy activists to Canada.
There are 300,000 Canadians of Hong Kong descent in China, and Go said if Ottawa does not act now to accommodate those who want to leave, Beijing will prevent them from leaving in the future.
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“Time to act now. “As China continues to crack down on democratic movements in Hong Kong, the country might soon find a way to bar Hong Kong activists from leaving the city, period,” Go said on Monday in a joint video press conference hosted by Amnesty International.
“Even with those who are Canadian citizens, China can refuse to recognize their dual citizenship status and deny them leaving Hong Kong.”
Members of parliament from Canada’s four main political parties and one independent senator stand in solidarity with the proposal submitted at the virtual press conference held by Amnesty International.
Canada, along with the United States, Britain and Australia, have condemned Beijing’s imposition of a new national security law which they say violates Hong Kong’s freedom from Chinese communist interference.
“This is the most astonishing, threatening and compassionate attack by the Beijing government … abandoning the pretense of fulfilling the Chinese international promise made when Hong Kong was handed over in 1997,” said Alex Neve, secretary general of the Amnesty branch in Canada.
Go called on the federal government to implement several immigration and asylum measures, to help people get out of Hong Kong before it’s too late. They:
– Speed up the application of family sponsorships by Canadians with spouses and parents in Hong Kong.
– Expanding the sponsorship program of family reunification beyond parents and spouses.
The Chinese Parliament formally approved the Hong Kong security bill
– Issue more temporary residence permits, work visas and student visas.
– Giving refugee status to democracy advocates, and offering them improved resettlement options.
Last year, Hong Kong residents took to the streets in mass protests against the proposed extradition law from Beijing which was eventually abandoned.
During the riots, the Go clinic received requests from Canadians of Hong Kong descent whose relatives participated in pro-democracy protests, he said.
Since Beijing announced a new security law, the clinic has gotten calls from Canadians who are worried about their families even though they may not be involved with the democracy movement, Go said.
“These are our people. And as MPs who are dedicated to promoting and protecting democracy, we cannot stand still. I support all actions, “said Independent Senator Marilou McPhedran.
McPhedran said he had traveled throughout Africa and seen the effects of China’s massive development spending, an effort to buy influence that many analysts said was a power game by the ruling communist party in Beijing.
“Weapons of economic support are something we need to understand better when we look at what is happening in Hong Kong,” McPhedran said.
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“Violations of the Hong Kong Constitution, which are at the core of what China is saying will do, are actually pioneers of threats to democracy in many other countries as well.”
Conservative MP Kenny Chiu, who was born in Hong Kong, said people in his homeland respected human rights and the rule of law, and they were ready to commemorate the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre on Thursday that saw Chinese troops kill a number of supporters. student protesters of democracy in 1989.
“We watched in the basic dictatorship of Hong Kong in disguise, exerting our strength for fear of these values,” Chiu said.
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