04/09/2021, 16.23
HONG KONG – CHINA
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Harbouring pro-democracy ‘criminals’ is ‘barbaric interference', says Hong Kong government

The Hong Kong government reacts a few hours after Beijing slams London for granting activist Nathan Law political refugee status. Since June 2019, 10,200 people have been arrested, many of them young.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Any country that harbours “criminals” engages in “barbaric interference” and will pay a price for its actions, the Hong Kong Government said in a statement.

This comes after a number of persecuted Hong Kong pro-democracy activists have obtained or sought refugee status in the United Kingdom and other countries.

The statement does not mention the names of any “criminals” or the countries concerned, but it follows  a statement made yesterday by a Chinese official after the United Kingdom granted political asylum to former Hong Kong Legislative Council (LegCo) Member Nathan Law Kwun-chung.

Law, a pro-democracy activist, fled abroad last year when the National Security Act was imposed on the territory. The 27-year-okld Law is one of the young leaders who participated in public protests and sit-ins. He is accused of secessionism.

After media reported Law’s successful application for political refugee status, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian accused Law of being a “criminal suspect” and branded London's move as “gross interference” in Hong Kong judiciary.

For its part, the Hong Kong government noted that “Any country, region, organisation or individual that harbours Hong Kong criminals in any form shows contempt for the rule of law, grossly disrespects Hong Kong's legal systems and barbarically interferes in the affairs of Hong Kong.”

In the meantime, papers released by Hong Kong’s Department of Justice to LegCo members indicate that more than 10,200, many of them young, were detained in connection with the anti-extradition bill protest that began in June 2019.

So far, some 600 people have been tried and convicted. Many peaceful protests against the bill, which was eventually dropped, did turn violent, primarily because of excessive use of force by the police and the government’s callousness.

Some of the people deemed “criminals” are among the most esteemed Hong Kong figures in the world, members of the pro-democracy movement, like Martin Lee, Jimmy Lai, Lee Cheuk-yan, Margaret Ng, and Albert Ho.

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