A transcript of Ai-Men’s testimony is reproduced below
Bonsoir, je m’appelle Ai-Men Lau. (I want to extend my thanks for the opportunity to testify today.) Je vous remercie de m’avoir invité à témoigner aujourd’hui. I’d also like to thank the technical and translation team for all their hard work.
From the 2019 peaceful protest movement till today, Hong Kong’s autonomy has been decimated by the Chinese Communist Party and the Hong Kong government. This has continued with impunity and the inaction has only emboldened the Chinese regime.
The Hong Kong Government uses the National Security Law to stamp out street protests, silence dissenting voices, gut the city’s legislature, decimate political opposition, and weaponize COVID-19 health measures to restrict movement, mobility and gatherings, effectively bringing the entire movement to its knees.
Without an opposition, Beijing has implemented sweeping institutional changes to ensure complete control over the city’s governance, including:
- Stripping Hong Kong of its electoral autonomy
- Requiring pledges of allegiance in public sectors
- Firing teachers for their political views
- Delegitimizing university student unions
- Targeting trade unions and religious groups
- Raiding and targeting pro-democractic “yellow businesses”
- Requiring professional bodies like the HK Bar Association to adhere to its “patriotic statutory duties”
- Requiring internet service providers to ban specific websites under the NSL
Beijing’s political imperative has now seeped into society and private life.
Living in fear and uncertainty, pro-democracy Hong Kongers are struggling to see a brighter future. Two years ago, Hong Kongers were able to march the streets to voice their concerns. Today they can be arrested for simply holding up blank pieces of paper in protest.
We have witnessed countless coordinated attacks by police officers and triads on regular civilians, arbitrary arrest of medics and reporters, protestors were beaten, raped, tortured and denied due process. Co-organizers have gone missing for months on end and many more have fled to Taiwan via boat. As of February 28 this year, there are 10,242 arrests and 2,506 prosecutions related to the protests. Yet after two years of perpetrating violent state and police suppression, few, if any police officers, triad members, or government officials have been held accountable.
Over 60% of youths in Hong Kong are hoping to leave the city. In a city-wide survey conducted by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute, 1 in 5 Hong Kongers are seeking to flee the city and 65% are not confident about Hong Kong’s political future.
Even before the passage of the National Security Law, many Hong Kongers who hold foreign passports or have the financial resources have fled the city in fear of retaliation for their involvement in the protest movement, but now, even that may be at risk.
The Hong Kong government has passed a law that can bar people from leaving or entering, transforming Hong Kong into an open air prison. This law will come into effect August 1st, meaning we have a limited window of time to act.
We have three recommendations for the committee to consider:
- First, we have previously submitted recommendations to CIMM which we will be also submitting to this committee. Canada should create a dedicated asylum pathway for those fleeing prosecution or persecution, along with other immigration policy changes such as modifying private sponsorship and family reunification that enables extended family members to resettle here. Canada should also plan to support the 300K Canadians and their families who need to renew permanent residence status or make applications. We urge you to consider the travel visa restrictions that have barred many from entering Canada, whether to seek asylum or to resettle permanently.
- Second, even though Hong Kongers are hoping to leave the city, we know that many more cannot leave. This is why we need to hold Hong Kong and Chinese officials accountable. Canada should invoke the Justice for the Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, placing targeted sanctions against the Hong Kong government, Hong Kong Police Force, and PRC officials who are complicit in perpetrating human rights violations. We must also ensure that sanctions are enforceable by the Government of Canada.
- Finally, we also urge Canada to address foreign-state harassment operations , as dissidents’ families are also targeted by authorities in Hong Kong and China.
Merci/Thank you again for inviting me. I am happy to take your questions.