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Hong Kong police question parents of US-based democracy campaigner Anna Kwok

Kwok is one of a group of eight prominent overseas activists targeted with a bounty on their heads

By Simon Lee for RFA Cantonese

August 8, 2023

Anna Kwok, a Washington, D.C.,-based Hong Kong activist, has been designated by the Hong Kong police as a fugitive with a $1 million Hong Kong dollars bounty offered for her arrest.

Hong Kong police on Tuesday took the parents of U.S.-based democracy activist Anna Kwok for questioning, in the latest in a series of moves targeting the relatives of eight prominent overseas activists wanted under a draconian national security law, according to a London-based rights group.

"Today, the Hong Kong national security police detained the parents of US-based pro-democracy activist Anna Kwok ... for questioning over whether they had any contact with, or had sent money to, their daughter," Hong Kong Watch said in a statement on its website, citing local media reports.

Kwok, 26, is the executive director of the U.S.-based political lobby group, the Hong Kong Democracy Council, and is applying for political asylum in the United States.

She was among eight exiled activists listed as wanted by Hong Kong’s national security police, and is accused of "colluding with foreign forces" under the national security law, which bans criticism of the authorities.

Hong Kong leader John Lee has vowed to pursue the eight activists for the rest of their lives.

Kwok, who has a bounty of H.K.$1 million on her head, hadn't commented on her X account by 1000 GMT on Tuesday.

Photos of eight activists who are sought by Hong Kong police are displayed during a press conference in Hong Kong, July 3, 2023. Credit: Joyce Zhou/Reuters

Her parents' questioning comes after similar police action against the family members of the other seven activists on a "wanted" list announced in early July, along with bounties on the head of each activist.

The moves come as the ruling Chinese Communist Party takes more direct control over national security policy in Hong Kong, which was once the domain of China's cabinet, the State Council.

Adopting PRC tactics

So far, police have targeted the relatives of former pro-democracy lawmakers Nathan Law and Dennis Kwok, U.S.-based businessman Elmer Yuen and U.K.-based veteran labor activist Christopher Mung, also known as Mung Siu-tat. Australia-based former lawmaker Ted Hui and U.K.-based activist Finn Lau are also on the wanted list.

“This is yet another outrageous escalation since the issuing of arrest warrants and bounties against the eight activists over a month ago," Hong Kong Watch policy and advocacy director Sam Goodman said in a statement. “It is increasingly clear the Hong Kong government is adopting the tactics of the security apparatus in mainland China which targets family members to silence criticism overseas."

“We emphasize that the Hong Kong National Security Law has no jurisdiction abroad, and governments must protect the rights and freedoms of activists in exile," he said.

The group called on the international community to treat China's claims that the national security law is applicable to anyone, anywhere in the world, as illegal.

"Hong Kong Watch calls for the protection of anyone who is threatened by the National Security Law abroad," it said.

Last week, police took away Elmer Yuen's ex-wife Yuen Stephanie Downs and their daughter Yuen Mi-shu and son Yuen Mi-man, the Ming Pao newspaper reported, while government broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong cited police sources as saying Yuen's ex-wife, son and daughter had been hauled in for questioning.

Earlier this month, national security police raided the home of trade unionist Mung Siu-tat's brother, taking away him, his wife and son for questioning -- also on suspicion of "assisting fugitives to continue to engage in acts that endanger national security."

Police also took away the parents, brother and sister-in-law of exiled former pro-democracy lawmaker Dennis Kwok and questioned them on suspicion of the same offense, a few days after similar treatment was meted out to Nathan Law’s parents and brother.

No arrests were made, and all of the activists' family members were released after questioning.

Translated with additional reporting by Luisetta Mudie.


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