Hong Kong police have been condemned for issuing a cash reward to exiled democracy activists

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The Hong Kong National Police has issued rewards to eight exiled democracy activists, including former MP Nathan Law.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong police on Monday awarded $1 million ($127,603) rewards to eight prominent self-imposed democracy activists, in a move strongly condemned by rights groups and Western governments.

The activists, including Nathan Law, Dennis Kwok and Ted Hoy, have been charged with breaches of national security offenses ranging from collusion with foreign forces to subverting state power.

after Leave Hong Kong In recent years, many activists have continued to speak out against what they say is Beijing’s crackdown on freedoms and autonomy in their city.

The group of seven men and one woman is based in the US, Canada, Britain and Australia – countries that have suspended extradition treaties with Hong Kong over fears of controversy. National Security Act.

It was universal law imposed by Beijing in Hong Kong in 2020, after massive pro-democracy protests rocked the semi-autonomous city the year before. Separatism, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign powers are criminalized and punishable by life imprisonment.

Critics say the legislation has been used to crush the city’s opposition movement, overhaul its electoral system, silence outspoken media and paralyze its once vibrant civil society. Several prominent pro-democracy figures in Hong Kong have either been arrested or fled into self-imposed exile.

The Hong Kong government has repeatedly denied that the national security law suppresses freedoms. Instead, she insists, the law ended the anarchy and restored stability to the city.

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On Monday, police said at a news conference that 260 people had been arrested under the national security law, 79 of whom had been convicted of crimes including vandalism and terrorism.

Chief Superintendent Steve Lee, of the police’s National Security Department, told reporters that police had obtained court arrest warrants for the eight activists.

“We are absolutely not organizing any show or spreading terror. We are applying the law,” he said.

The United States and Britain condemned this move and Australia, whose government has urged Hong Kong to withdraw the bounty offer and expressed concern about the targeting of Democratic figures.

The non-profit Human Rights Watch also criticized the national security law as creating “a veneer of legitimacy in wiping out the human rights of Hong Kong residents”, and urged democratic governments to provide greater protections for activists in exile or impose more sanctions on Hong Kong. Government.

Kevin Yam, a lawyer who was among the eight targeted, said he has been “overwhelmed with congratulations” for being given the “honor of being on the list” since Monday’s police news conference.

“I don’t feel happy about it, but I do feel sad for Hong Kong people now see things that way, because it is an indication of how low Hong Kong is in the eyes of many,” he told CNN Australia.

Law, who is now based in Britain, said in a statement that while the news was stressful and meant he should be more careful while traveling, it didn’t come as a surprise. He criticized the national security law as being used to “suppress dissenting voices”, and reiterated his hope that Hong Kong will one day gain full democracy.

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“I’m just a Hong Kong person speaking on behalf of Hong Kong people – that’s all,” he said, urging the audience not to cooperate with the reward show. “We should not shut up or limit ourselves, nor should we be subjected to political intimidation or blackmail, or live in fear.”

Anna Kwok, also one of the exiled activists named Monday, wrote on Twitter that the photo released by police is one she took as an 18-year-old to obtain her ID.

“The 18-year-old never thought the photo would be released globally on an arrest warrant (with reward) 8 years later,” she wrote.

In a longer statement, Kwok, who is based in the US, said the move was “clearly” intended to intimidate pro-democracy supporters and encourage “further purges” of remaining activists.

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