Refugee Wong quits independence push

Top News | Phoenix Un and agencies 24 May 2019

Former localist leader Ray Wong Toi-yeung, one of two fugitives under German refugee protection, says he has stopped advocating for independence and will instead focus more on protecting the identity of Hongkongers.

Wong, former convener of Hong Kong Indigenous - a pro-independence group - and fellow member Alan Li Tung-sing, jumped bail in November 2017 after facing rioting charges related to the Mong Kok clash in 2016.

They were both granted refugee protection by Germany in May last year but only made it public this week.

Wong, in an interview with Agence France-Presse, said his political stance has softened.

"Now I won't advocate for Hong Kong independence. I think the most important thing for Hong Kong is its human rights situation," he said. "Secondly, it's our identity. If we lose our identity, Hong Kong people will disappear in the game."

Wong spent over 10 months waiting for a refugee protection approval.

"I didn't take learning German seriously because I didn't know whether I could stay here and my emotions weren't stable at the time. I couldn't do anything," Wong said.

He recalled that he finally felt relaxed after he and Li knew they were granted refugee status.

Wong now plans to study philosophy and politics at the University of Gottingen if he passes the German language requirements.

Speaking to Reuters, Li said they lived in refugee camps until August where they shared a room with up to 10 people at a time.

He also spoke against the controversial fugitive law amendment, saying: "I predict that once the law is passed, more and more people will seek refuge in other countries."

Another Hongkonger applied for refugee protection in Germany but the application was rejected, Germany's Federal Office for Migration and Refugees confirmed.

Germany's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, without referring directly to the case, said that it considers the human rights situation in Hong Kong to be "good as a whole."

It added: "At the same time, we are increasingly concerned about the diminishing space for political opposition and a gradual erosion of freedom of opinion and the press, particularly in connection with sensitive political issues."

Former secretary for security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee yesterday said on radio she requested the Hong Kong government to summon the German consul general of Hong Kong, Dieter Lamle, regarding the refugee protection issue.

But legislator James To Kun-sun said Ip's demands would only embarrass the Hong Kong government.

He said Germany had not confirmed that the two refugees were Wong and Li, and the country usually would not disclose reasons behind a refugee protection approval.

However, Germany could be forced to divulge information if the Hong Kong government forces its hand.

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