LONDON, United Kingdom – When the Philippines passed its feared anti-terrorism law at the height of the pandemic lockdown, Hong Kong also passed the China-backed National Security Law which has broad provisions widely criticized as criminalizing dissent.
In less than three years, around 250 people have been arrested and 30 have been convicted in Hong Kong under this law. One of the most prominent pro-democracy figures in jail for this law is media mogul Jimmy Lai, who owns the independent Chinese language newspaper Apple Daily. Apple Daily’s shutdown in 2021 was a pivotal moment for Hong Kong, a special territory that was once a global example of freedom and rule of law, but has rapidly “jostled for top spots in Asia for repression and political prisoners,” according to Human Rights Watch.
Lai has been in jail for more than two years and is facing life imprisonment under the law, described as a repressive colonial-era law to crack down on government critics. Lai’s son Sebastien has been campaigning for the United Kingdom to do more to secure his father’s release. Lai is a British citizen, and Hong Kong is a former British colony.
Rappler’s justice reporter Lian Buan sits down with Sebastien and Jimmy’s lawyer Caoilfhionn Gallagher KC in London to discuss this case, what it means for Hong Kong, and the state of freedoms across Asia and the world. – Rappler.com