The recent arrest of Cantopop star and Canadian citizen Denise Ho by Hong Kong national security police sent chills through Richmond human rights activists who have family ties in Hong Kong.
Ho, a board member of the now-shuttered pro-democracy online news outlet Stand News, was arrested last Wednesday following the police raid of the publication’s office.
Strand News was accused of “conspiracy to publish seditious publications.”
Ho has since been granted bail after being detained for 36 hours by Hong Kong police, but the “good news” didn’t stop growing concerns about the safety of many local Hong Kong pro-democracy activists.
Mabel Tung, who immigrated to Richmond from Hong Kong in 1986 and is a member of the local Hong Kong democracy movement, told the Richmond News that the recent news about police cracking down on media outlets and arresting reporters in Hong Kong has “created a lot of censorship and fear” among the Richmond Chinese community who are scared to participate in any democratic movement in Canada for fear of the repercussions that may have on family members still living in the former British colony.
“They can’t join our protests (against the Chinese government) and are afraid to show their faces at our rallies because they are worried about their relatives’ safety in Hong Kong. So they can’t do anything.
“(My husband and I) don’t have any family back there, so we have no fear. We are free to speak the truth,” said Tung, who has organized many pro-democracy movements in Metro Vancouver, including Richmond.
Meanwhile, Tung, along with 18 other organizations across Canada, recently wrote a joint letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, appealing to the Canadian government to denounces Hong Kong’s crackdown on press freedom and provide consular protection to Canadians who are still living or working in Hong Kong.
“An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us,” read the joint statement, adding that if most people remain silent, these attacks will likely be extended to foreign journalists and other independent social platforms in Hong Kong.
“We urge our Canadian government, our international allies, and journalists around the world to strongly condemn this latest crackdown on Hong Kong press freedom and work closely together to expedite the release of all arrested journalists in Hong Kong. We also urge our Canadian government to provide consular protection to Denise Ho,” the statement continues.