“This is not immigration, this is exile!”
Many Hong Kongers have left the territory since China imposed the sweep National security law (NSL) for almost a year now they don’t know when or they will never be able to return home.
Pro-democracy activists and elected politicians have been under increasing pressure since protests ravaged the city in 2019. Some have been charged with security breaches that carry a possible life sentence while others are in jail for having organized and participate in protests.
Thursday, police arrested five senior executives of Apple Daily, a pro-democracy newspaper founded in 1995, which accused them of “collaborating with foreign forces,” a crime according to the SNL.
Hong Kongers began to flee abroad unintentionally, to escape the risk of arbitrary arrest or to distance themselves from a place they no longer recognize.
Hong Kong’s first protester in Germany was granted asylum on October 14, 2020, and since then, countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia have deployed various “lifeboat” plans for pro-democracy activists. of Hong Kong who need asylum.
The European Parliament has also adopted a resolution calling on member states to take part in an international lifeboat plan.
He Scheme of the United Kingdom, which was launched on January 31, paves the way for citizenship.
Some 34,000 Hong Kongers applied for visas in the UK during the three months following their launch, according to Oxford University.
Some of those who made the move have enough savings to stay in their new home or transferable skills that make it easier to find work. Others are less fortunate, forced to share tight accommodations in the UK as they try to rebuild their lives thousands of miles from home.
They come from different parts of Hong Kong, they are different people with different experiences, but they are united in their commitment to democratic freedom and the fear of returning to the place where they once felt they belonged.