HK protesters seek asylum overseas as noose tightens

6 June, 2020 12:00 AM printer

HONG KONG: Hong Kong protester Crystal has yet to tell her parents she has fled overseas to seek asylum in Canada, one of a growing number of residents choosing self-exile as Beijing tightens control, reports AFP.

The 21-year-old student spent months on the front lines of the pro-democracy protests, which first exploded with huge marches last June and descended into increasingly violent battles with riot police as each month went by.

A year on, she is waiting to hear if she will be granted refugee status on the other side of the world. “My friends and family don’t know about my situation,” she told AFP, asking for her full name and location to be withheld — like all applicants interviewed for this piece. “They all thought I went to study abroad.”

Activists in Canada say at least 50 former Hong Kong protesters lodged asylum applications before the coronavirus pandemic ended most international travel.

Hundreds more have relocated to democratic Taiwan, which under President Tsai Ing-wen has said it will try to accommodate Hong Kongers seeking to escape with freedoms sliding at home.

The current trickle could become an exodus after Beijing announced plans to impose a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong in response to the protests.

China says an anti-subversion law is needed to tackle “terrorism” and “separatism”.