Hong Kongers tell Police Scotland stories of persecution as Jimmy Lai marks 1,000 days behind bars
Hong Kongers living in Scotland have told of their persecution as campaigners called on the UK government to take action to demand the release of 75-year-old British citizen Jimmy Lai as he marks his 1,000th day behind bars in Hong Kong.
The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation (CFHK Foundation) held a private meeting in the Scottish Parliament between Hong Kongers who have been persecuted while living in Scotland and representatives from Police Scotland.
The meeting, hosted by MSP Jeremy Balfour, saw Hong Kongers brief Superintendent Christine Boyd on the threat of illegal Chinese police stations and raised concerns over Confucius Institutes which operate in Scottish universities.
The Loon Fung, on Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street, was one of 54 alleged clandestine bases across five continents, according to human rights group Safeguard Defenders. It is believed it has since been closed.
Mr Lai, who marks 1,000 days in prison on Tuesday, is a businessman who founded Apple Daily and its parent company Next Digital, a Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper and media outlet forcibly shut by the government in December 2020.
Hong Kong is officially part of China, since the handover from Britain in 1997. It is meant to enjoy more freedoms than mainland China, but it has been claimed that these freedoms have been eroded in recent years.
In 2019, millions of Hong Kong citizens took to the streets to protest a proposed bill that would allow Hong Kong authorities to extradite suspected criminals to mainland China.
Jeremy Balfour MSP said: “This is the second time I have hosted a group of Hong kongers who have settled in Scotland and it is vital that they feel safe and welcome in whichever city they choose to live. I'm delighted that Police Scotland came to meet the Hong Kongers directly and hear the challenges they face at the hands of China and the Chinese Communist Party on Scottish soil.
"I will continue to do everything I can to fight for those who are under attack from authoritarian states and to help the Hong Kong community in Scotland.”
Mark Sabah, UK and EU director of the CFHK Foundation, said: “I was delighted to help organise this important event in the Scottish Parliament. It is vital that Scottish parliamentarians hear directly from Hongkongers about the ongoing persecution they face from the Chinese Communist Party even after settling in Scotland.
"I am glad Police Scotland was represented at this gathering, and I hope this is the first step on the path to greater scrutiny on the nefarious role of the Chinese Communist Party across Scotland, especially on campuses and through intimidation from illegal police stations and mainland Chinese operatives.”
In addition to his current incarceration, Mr Lai earlier served a 20-month prison sentence for participating in peaceful protests in 2019 and 2020. Lai’s faces a possible life sentence under the National Security Law in a trial expected to begin in December.
Mr Sabah added: “British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak should defend his own citizen by publicly calling for the Hong Kong government to immediately and unconditionally release Jimmy Lai and abide by the terms of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, an international treaty signed by China that promised continued freedom for Hong Kong people.”
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