Democracy activists’ books disappear from Hong Kong libraries after new law


Publications by outstanding Hong Kong pro-democracy figures have turn into unavailable in the Chinese-ruled city’s general public libraries as they are getting reviewed to see no matter if they violate a new national security regulation, a government division said on Sunday.

The sweeping laws, which came into pressure on Tuesday night time at the similar time its contents have been released, punishes crimes connected to secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with international forces, with punishments of up to lifetime in prison.

Riot police inquiries a gentleman around the US Consulate in Hong Kong on 4 July, 2020.

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Hong Kong community libraries “will evaluation whether particular books violate the stipulations of the National Security Legislation,” the Leisure and Cultural Solutions Section, which runs the libraries, stated in a assertion.

“While authorized information will be sought in the approach of the critique, the publications will not be accessible for borrowing and reference in libraries.”

A look for for publications by youthful activist Joshua Wong or pro-democracy politician Tanya Chan on the public libraries site confirmed the textbooks, including “Unfree Speech,” co-authored by Wong, both unavailable or below critique.

“The nationwide protection law … imposes a mainland-type censorship regime on this worldwide fiscal metropolis,” Wong tweeted on Saturday, introducing his titles “are now susceptible to reserve censorship.”

The national-safety legislation has been criticised by professional-democracy activists, legal professionals and overseas governments who dread it would be utilized to stifle dissent and undermine freedoms the former British colony was promised when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

The working day right after the law came into effect, 1 person was arrested for carrying a Hong Kong independence flag.

2 July 2020: Australia drafting program to offer protected haven to Hong Kong inhabitants

On Friday, the community government declared the slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” illegal. And a guy who had pushed a motorcycle into police officers throughout a protest and carried a flag with that concept was charged with terrorism and inciting secessionism.

Local and Beijing officials have frequently said the legislation would not curb freedom of speech or the media, nor any other rights in the metropolis. The new law, they said, only targets a couple of “troublemakers.”

It is unclear how several publications are below critique. Two titles by Chinese Nobel Peace Prize-profitable political dissident Liu Xiaobo were nonetheless out there, in accordance to the on-line lookup.



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Hong Kong: Asylum for ‘tortured’ consulate worker could give hope to other activists | World News


A former worker at the UK’s consulate in Hong Kong has told Sky News that Britain’s decision to grant him asylum could set a precedent for others who fear Chinese persecution.

Hong Kong-born Simon Cheng, 29, said the Home Office recently approved his asylum request after he was forced to flee the territory last year following more than two weeks in Chinese detention.

In an interview with Sky News, the pro-democracy campaigner said he applauded a decision by Britain this week to offer millions of Hong Kong residents a path to UK citizenship if they hold the special status of British National Overseas (BNO).

However, Mr Cheng said his case might mean those who do not qualify, including anyone who was born after Britain handed control of the city back to China in 1997, might be able to claim political asylum instead.

Speaking in London, he said: “I guess I’m the first case as a Hong Kong citizen to be granted political asylum in the UK, so it could be a precedent for more Hong Kong people if they cannot be protected by the BNO scheme.”

While supportive of the citizenship offer, he said Boris Johnson’s government should also impose sanctions on China in response to the national security law, which the UK says is in breach of a bilateral treaty that guarantees Hong Kong’s one country, two systems principle.

Mr Cheng warned that his experience of China’s police and justice system during 15 days in detention on the Chinese mainland last August was a portent of what the people of his home city could expect.

“That is the worst ever,” he said of the new legislation.

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He was granted political asylum

Pro-democracy protesters “can simply wave the flag or say something bad to the government and be detained and delivered back to mainland China,” he said.

Mr Cheng believes those Hong Kong residents standing up to what they see as Beijing’s encroaching rule should receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

But he warned that left unchecked, China could try to extend its influence further, possibly even leading to conflict over Taiwan or in the South China Sea.

“We give a warning signal to the world now,” he said. “The Hong Kong citizens now on the frontline, so in the future I do believe we are eligible to get the Nobel Peace Prize.”

Recalling his time in captivity, Mr Cheng said he had been returning to Hong Kong following a trip to mainland China when he was arrested on 8 August.

He believes he was stopped because he had taken part in a number of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, so perhaps his face had been recognised.

Mr Cheng describes being secured to a “tiger chair” in a cell, with a bar over his stomach and his hands cuffed together.

He alleged an interrogator began by asking him what crime he had committed, followed by what he thought about Hong Kong and whether the UK had anything to do with widespread pro-democracy protests.

“I never ever can imagine being interrogated with such questions,” Mr Cheng said.

The UK has expressed 'deep concern' over the new law
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Hong Kong police are seen firing tear gas at protesters

He was eventually told that he could either confess to seeing prostitutes – not regarded as a serious offence – or be handed over to other security personnel, where he could face more serious charges.

Mr Cheng said he opted for the former, even though he says this was not true.

He claims he was then transferred to another location where he was placed in solitary confinement for a week, only taken out to be driven allegedly to a separate site where he claims he was made to stand in stress positions and beaten.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office last month released a six-monthly report on Hong Kong.

In the foreword, Dominic Raab referred to Mr Cheng’s “mistreatment”, saying the UK was “shocked and appalled”.

“His treatment in Chinese detention, for more than two weeks, amounted to torture,” he said.

China’s ambassador to London, Liu Xiaoming, has said previously on Twitter that Mr Cheng was placed under 15-day “administrative detention” by police in Shenzhen.

“He confessed all offences. All his lawful rights and interests were guaranteed in accordance with the law.”

Mr Cheng was set free on 24 August but not before he claims he was forced to confess on camera to soliciting prostitutes, treason and sharing UK secrets with the Chinese authorities.

“I was trying to be cooperating, yeah let’s do it,” he said, explaining why he agreed to do the recording. “If I can’t get out after 15 days I will be done.”

He said the false confession on prostitution was released by state media along with CCTV footage showing him visiting a massage parlour – which he did but for an ordinary massage.

The other two “confession tapes” have yet to be made public, Mr Cheng said.

Upon his release he decided he had to leave his parents and siblings in Hong Kong because he did not feel safe.

Mr Cheng travelled with his girlfriend to Taiwan and then they moved to the UK.

The coronavirus pandemic means he has not been able to find work yet so is dedicating his time to supporting the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.

Even though he’s left the territory, Mr Cheng still says he thinks he is being monitored.

“I feel I’m being followed sometimes in the UK,” he said. “I do feel some suspicious people around me stare at me. I’m not sure because I cannot prove anything.”



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Pro-democracy activists say China’s new security laws are ‘the end of Hong Kong’ as we know it


China passed a sweeping national protection law for Hong Kong on Tuesday, a historic transfer that critics and numerous western governments panic will smother the finance hub’s freedoms and hollow out its autonomy.

The laws was unanimously accepted by China’s rubber-stamp parliament on Tuesday morning, minimal more than 6 months following it was 1st unveiled, sending shockwaves by means of semi-autonomous Hong Kong and further than.

“It marks the conclude of Hong Kong that the environment understood ahead of,” well known democracy campaigner Joshua Wong tweeted as his political party Demosisto declared it was disbanding. 

“With sweeping powers and ill-outlined law, the town will flip into a #secretpolicestate.”

The United States, Britain, the European Union and the United Nations rights watchdog have all voiced fears the law could be utilised to stifle criticism of Beijing, which wields related rules on the authoritarian mainland to crush dissent. 

In an unprecedented choice, the law bypassed Hong Kong’s fractious legislature and the wording was saved magic formula from the city’s 7.5 million inhabitants.

“The countrywide protection regulation for Hong Kong was formally passed by the Nationwide People’s Congress Standing Committee right now,” the DAB, Hong Kong’s most significant pro-Beijing celebration, explained in a assertion on Tuesday welcoming the law.

A protester gestures for the duration of a rally in Hong Kong.

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There was no formal announcement from Beijing on the passage of the regulation. As an alternative the information filtered out by way of pro-Beijing politicians and nearby media retailers in Hong Kong.

“We haven’t viewed the particulars… but all Hong Kong delegates firmly assistance the legislation,” Henry Tang, leader of a group of pro-institution Hong Kong figures invited to a conference at Beijing’s Liaison Workplace Tuesday afternoon, explained to reporters.

But Beijing’s opacity has infuriated some others. 

“The actuality that Hong Kong persons will only appear to know what is actually really in this new legislation right after the point is a lot more than preposterous,” Claudia Mo, an opposition lawmaker, advised AFP.

Wen Wei Po and Ta Kung Pao – two Hong Kong newspapers that serve as conduits for Beijing’s official policy – also verified the passing of the legislation, as did several local Hong Kong media outlets citing nameless sources in Beijing. 

Even as phrase filtered out that the regulation had been accredited, Hong Kongers remained in the darkish about its contents and what might now represent a criminal offense. 

At her weekly press convention on Tuesday morning, Hong Kong chief Carrie Lam – a professional-Beijing appointee – declined to comment on no matter whether the law experienced been passed or what it contained. 

“I imagine at this instant, it is not proper for me to comment on any concerns linked to the countrywide protection regulation,” she told reporters.

‘End of Hong Kong’

As section of the 1997 handover from Britain, Hong Kong was guaranteed selected freedoms – as perfectly as judicial and legislative autonomy – for 50 yrs in a deal regarded as “A single Country, Two Systems”.

The system formed the bedrock of the city’s transformation into a planet class enterprise hub, bolstered by a dependable judiciary and political freedoms unseen on the mainland. 

Critics have long accused Beijing of chipping absent at that position, but they explain the stability regulation as the most brazen move but.

A summary of the regulation released by the formal state agency Xinhua this thirty day period reported the laws would include subversion, secession, terrorism and colluding with international forces. 

China’s stability companies will be able to set up shop publicly in the town for the to start with time.  

And Beijing will have jurisdiction over some conditions, toppling the authorized firewall that has existed in between Hong Kong and the mainland’s celebration-controlled courts. 

Analysts reported that even without information the protection legislation radically restructures the romance between Beijing and Hong Kong. 

“It’s a essential modify that dramatically undermines both of those the area and worldwide community’s self-confidence in the direction of Hong Kong’s “A person State, Two Programs” product and its position as a robust fiscal centre,” Hong Kong political analyst Dixon Sing instructed AFP.

On the mainland, nationwide security guidelines are routinely made use of to jail critics, especially for the vague offence of “subversion”.

Beijing and Hong Kong’s governing administration reject these allegations. 

They have reported the regulations will only concentrate on a minority of men and women, will not hurt political freedoms in the city and will restore enterprise confidence after a calendar year of historic pro-democracy protests. 

Tens of millions took to the streets final calendar year when a smaller sized tough main of protesters regularly battled law enforcement in frequently violent confrontations that noticed additional than 9,000 arrested.

Hong Kong banned protests in current months, citing past unrest and the coronavirus pandemic, whilst neighborhood transmissions have finished.

Some western nations warned of potential repercussions in advance of the security law’s passing. 

Nevertheless several are also cautious of incurring Beijing’s wrath and dropping lucrative entry to the mainland’s huge overall economy.

“We deplore this decision,” European Council head Charles Michel informed a press meeting Tuesday.

“This legislation threats very seriously undermining the substantial diploma of autonomy of Hong Kong,” Michel reported in comments recurring by European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen.

Chris Patten, the previous British governor of the territory, claimed in a statement that the choice marked “the end of just one-place, two-devices.” 

Washington – which has embarked on a trade war with China – has said the safety law suggests Hong Kong no more time enjoys ample autonomy from the mainland to justify unique status. 

In a largely symbolic go, the United States on Monday ended delicate defence exports to Hong Kong around the law.

China claimed it would acquire unspecified “countermeasures” in response.

Britain experienced reported it was willing to deliver a “pathway to citizenship” for millions of Hong Kongers if the safety regulation went in advance.



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Refugee activists vow to defy court order


Refugee activists have vowed to push ahead with a planned protest this weekend despite the Supreme Court prohibiting the event amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Justice Michael Walton on Thursday night granted a NSW Police application for the rally to be declared a prohibited public gathering.

The rally, which is being organised by the Refugee Action Coalition (RAC), is scheduled to take place at Sydney’s Town Hall on Saturday afternoon.

RAC organiser James Supple told the court they were expecting a modest crowd of about 150 to 200 and that it could be held while observing social distancing rules.

But Justice Walton accepted arguments put forward by Lachlan Gyles SC, acting for NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller, who cited health concerns.

Justice Walton said that public health risks did not “outweigh the rights of public assembly and free speech”.

However Mr Supple said the group was still planning to hold the rally and urged anyone attending to observe social distancing measures and health guidelines.

“We’ll still be holding an event this Saturday, urging people to participate,” Mr Supple said outside court.

“As the court said, it doesn’t actually make it illegal to come to a protest, it just gives the police more powers.

“We’ll be doing everything in our power to ensure it’s a safe gathering and urging people to show some safety concern for the coronavirus measures.”

Earlier in the day, Commissioner Fuller said that anyone breaking a public health order would be fined $1000, then asked to move on and if they did not comply, they would be arrested.

NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing said in a statement late on Thursday night that while he supported the exercise of free speech, the county was in the midst of an “unprecedented pandemic”.

“The risk to public safety of these protests going ahead is significant,” Assistant Commissioner Willing said.

“I want to be clear about this – if people choose to break the law and attend this protest, police will not hesitate to take the appropriate action against them.”

Gyles argued that the protesters were playing “Russian roulette” given that the current public health order restricted gatherings of more than 10 people and organisers could not guarantee there would not be any transmission of the deadly virus.

He said that NSW residents had made great sacrifices throughout the COVID-19 epidemic and RAC did not have a “golden ticket” to defy the rules.

“COVID-19 has taken a massive emotional toll on many members of society,” Mr Gyles said.

“People could not go to funerals for their uncles, brothers, or lifelong friends, they haven’t been able to visit relatives in nursing homes.

“It’s taken a significant mental toll on them and Mr Supple says ‘it’s all good’ and he’s prepared to play Russian roulette.”

NSW Police had attempted to convince RAC to postpone the rally to a later date once the coronavirus eased.

But the group’s lawyer Emmanuel Kerkyasharian SC rejected the plea, arguing it should be allowed because they were protesting the detention of refugees who were being held against their will.

“Every day matters,” Mr Kerkyasharian told the court.

“Are we talking about six months down the track, three months down the track? These sorts of rights cannot be postponed.”



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Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists urge Australia to consider residency requests


Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists have urged Australia to consider offering residency to citizens if China imposes its new national security law.

The push comes after Britain announced it would offer millions of Hong Kongers visas and a possible route to UK citizenship if China persists with the legislation.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has asked Australia and other intelligence allies to share the “burden” of any mass migrations.

Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Sunny Cheung.

Supplied

Hong Kong pro-democracy protester Sunny Cheung has called on Australia to accept the request, warning the security law poses a “real danger” to activists like himself.

“I do hope that the Australian government really consider providing residency or asylum to activists – any people targeted by the regime under this law,” he told SBS News.

“If the international community can provide a channel for Hong Kongers to find another safe harbour that will be really promising,” he said.

The new security law would punish any behaviour that endangered Chinese national security in Hong Kong and was brought in after a wave of pro-democracy protests.

Sunny Cheung has called on Australia to consider offering residency to Hong Kongers if China's imposes the national security law.

Sunny Cheung has called on Australia to consider offering residency to Hong Kongers if China’s imposes the national security law.

Supplied

It has been approved by Beijing’s parliament as necessary to tackling “terrorism” and “separatism”.

But opponents fear it will lead to political oppression in the financial hub, eroding freedoms and autonomy supposedly guaranteed in the 1997 handover from Britain to China.

Mr Raab said he has raised the issue with foreign ministers of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing network, which also includes Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada.

“I raised it on the Five Eyes call yesterday, the possibility of … burden-sharing if we see a mass exodus from Hong Kong,” he said.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab during a media briefing in Downing Street

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab during a media briefing in Downing Street

AAP

The UK government has outlined a plan to change immigration rules to allow British National (Overseas) passport holders renewable 12 month visas, which would place them on a route to citizenship.

About 350,000 people in Hong Kong currently hold British National (Overseas) passports, which allow visa-free access to Britain for up to six months.

A further 2.5 million people would be eligible to apply.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote about the possible intervention in an article for The Times newspaper. 

“If China proceeds to justify their fears, then Britain could not in good conscience shrug our shoulders and walk away; instead we will honour our obligations and provide an alternative,” he wrote. 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also said the US is considering options to welcome people from Hong Kong in response to China’s push.

But Australia has so far refrained from making a similar commitment and also ruled out sanctioning China over the controversial security law.

Hong Kong Lawmaker Jeremy Tam.

Hong Kong Lawmaker Jeremy Tam.

South China Morning Post

Jeremy Tam, a pro-democracy member of Hong Kong’s legislative council said Hong Kongers are fearful about how the law could threaten their freedom.

He also said Hong Kongers born after 1997 would not be eligible to apply for the BNO passport, meaning this option may not be available to those under the age of 23.

“Lots of Hong Kong people have been very worried about this national security law imposed on Hong Kong,” he told SBS News.

“It’s lots of fear, there is no doubt about it.”

He said any pathway opened up for Hong Kongers to travel to Australia would be welcome.

That it is down to the Australian government and … also the Australian people to consider that.”

Australia has expressed its “deep concern” regarding Beijing’s decision to impose the national security law in a letter alongside the UK, the US and Canada.

The countries are concerned the law threatens to “curtail” the liberty of the Hong Kong people and erode their autonomy under the “one country, two systems” model.

The joint statement said the countries are “extremely concerned” that this action will exacerbate “existing deep divisions” in Hong Kong society.

Australia-Hong Kong Link leader Jane Poon said it was “urgent” that Australia consider the UK’s proposal to offer protection to Hong Kongers.

“There is an urgency to consider any measure that could be taken to help the Hong Kong people,” she told SBS News.

“I hope the international community take further steps to deal with our Hong Kong situation.”

In the wake of the 1989 massacre in Tiananmen Square, then-Prime Minister Bob Hawke announced Chinese students would be allowed to stay in Australia.

Ms Poon said she believes the time has come to again take similar action. 

“I believe it is time for the Australian government to consider to provide the same measure. The urgency is there because it is coming soon the national law.”

Foreign Minister Marise Payne and the Department of Home Affairs have been contacted for comment. 

With AFP



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Youth activists challenge Clive Palmer’s Waratah Coal mine saying it impacts their human rights


In an Australian legal first, an environment group has challenged a proposed mega-coal mine on the grounds that it infringes on their human rights because of its contribution to climate change.

“The link between human rights and climate change is increasingly being seen in legal actions around the world,” David Morris, chief executive of the Environmental Defenders Office, said.

“It was only a matter of time before we saw one in Australia.”

The action is being taken by a new group called Youth Verdict against the Galilee Coal Project in central Queensland — a project of Clive Palmer’s company Waratah Coal.

Youth Verdict has lodged an objection to the mine in the Queensland Land Court, arguing it infringes on a number of their rights under the state Human Rights Act, including the right to life, the protection of children and the right to culture.

Mel McAuliffe is a co-founder of Youth Verdict.(ABC News: Chris Gillette)

“We’re facing a future that is increasingly uncertain, and that impacts our right to have a safe future,” Mel McAuliffe, one of the founders of Youth Verdict.

“It means we won’t have access to the same opportunities that generations before us have had.”

LNP Senator Matt Canavan said although he was not aware of the specifics of the court case, he says these sorts of challenges usually fail.

“We know from the strategies of other environmental groups that they have sought to use our court system just simply to delay projects, not necessarily to protect the environment or even win the court case,” Senator Canavan said.

“I just don’t think our court systems are set up to handle such a disputed political issue. That’s not their role and purpose and [to] try to retrofit them to this will just cause more division and angst in our community.”

‘An unsafe future’

Lily Kerley with her hair up, sitting at a table outside with her laptop open in front of her.
Lily Kerley from Youth Verdict says the case is “daunting”.(ABC News: Chris Gillette)

The Galilee Coal Project involves two open pit and four underground coal mines, making it one of the biggest coal operations in Australia.

It has secured federal and state approvals but needs to be assessed by the Queensland Land Court before the final state environmental authority can be issued.

Mr Palmer and the Waratah Coal project have been approached for comment on the case but have not replied to 7.30.

Youth Verdict spokesperson Lily Kerley admits it is daunting facing a businessman who has been involved in a number of high-profile legal battles.

“But I wouldn’t say as daunting as the idea of facing an unsafe future for me and my generation,” she said.

Ms McAuliffe said: “We have no precedent for this type of action, which is new and exciting, but we don’t know what will happen.”

Human Rights Act to lead to ‘lawyers’ picnic’

Queensland’s Human Rights Act only came into effect in January.

The LNP Opposition voted against the bill in Parliament last year on the grounds that it was unnecessary.

“It is irresponsible law-making to enact a law, the practical meaning of which no-one knows,” Shadow Attorney-General David Janetzki told the Legislative Assembly.

“It is therefore likely … to encourage the ensuing lawyers’ picnic.”

The LNP declined to comment on Youth Verdict’s challenge.

The Queensland Resources Council’s Ian Macfarlane said the action was “a novel attempt by a minority group of young activists to use the court system to delay and/or prevent economic development in Queensland and jobs for Queenslanders during these challenging times”.



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