Nathan Law 'fled HK on eve of security law'

Top News | Staff Reporter 3 Jul 2020

Young pro-democracy activist and former legislator Nathan Law Kwun-chung left Hong Kong before the national security law took effect on Tuesday night - the first activist believed to have fled the SAR due to the new law.

Law, one of six ousted lawmakers in the oath-taking saga in 2016, was the former founding chairman of Demosisto.

Law, alongside Joshua Wong Chi-fung and Agnes Chow Ting, announced their withdrawal from Demosisto on Tuesday afternoon after the National People's Congress standing committee passed the national security law for Hong Kong.

Several hours later, Demosisto was dissolved.

Hong Kong Citizen News yesterday cited sources saying Law, 26, left Hong Kong before the new law came into effect and was overseas when he testified about the law's damage to Hong Kong via videoconferencing before a United States congressional committee hearing on Wednesday night.

However, it has not been revealed why he left and where he is now staying.

Online media said Law's draft speech to US congressmen included this paragraph: "To leave the place where you grew up and not knowing when you ever will return is difficult. But this is a step I know many of us are prepared to take for the good of Hong Kong."

But he did not read this out in his speech. Instead, he said he was worried about giving testimony because taking part in the hearing entitled "The end of One Country, Two Systems?" may have constituted a national security offense.

"So much is now lost in the city I love - the freedom to tell the truth," Law said.

"In addition to closed trials in Hong Kong and even the possibility of extradition to China, offenders could be barred from bail and a jury trial, with their rights trampled during interrogation.

"We used to think of 'secret police' as something abstract. Now it is a very real fear," he said.

"China is exerting de facto direct rule over Hong Kong, in clear violation of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration that promises one country, two systems."

Law was speaking via video conferencing alongside veteran pan-democratic leader and ex-legislator Lee Cheuk-yan and Brian Leung Kai-ping, known for revealing his face during the storming of the Legislative Council on July 1 last year and is now in the US studying a doctoral degree in politics.

Law said: "What now lies ahead of us is not just the personal safety of my friends Joshua (Wong) or other leading opposition figures like Martin Lee Chu-ming and Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, but the survival of Hong Kong as an idea."

In an interview with Associated Press, Lai, the Next Digital founder, said he will not leave Hong Kong, even if one day his wife, son and daughter have to leave.

"I cannot. If I leave, not only do I disgrace myself, I'd discredit Apple Daily. I'd undermine the solidarity of the democratic movement," he said. "It's something I have to take responsibility for."

Lai is among the 15 pro-democracy leaders facing illegal assembly charges during the months-long unrest.

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