Home News Canadian-born dissident Dennis Kwok urges Ottawa to end extradition treaty

Canadian-born dissident Dennis Kwok urges Ottawa to end extradition treaty

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Pro-democracy MP Dennis Kwok answers questions from the media outside the High Court of Hong Kong on October 31, 2019.PHILIP FONG / AFP / Getty Images

The Canadian-born Hong Kong high-profile dissident, one of eight pro-democracy activists targeted with bounties by Beijing-backed police forces this week, is urging Canada to scrap the extradition deal with the former British colony.

Edmonton-born Dennis Kwok was ousted from his position as a Hong Kong lawmaker in November 2020, after he resisted Chinese Communist Party meddling in the territory that Beijing originally promised to control its own affairs for 50 years. He was one of four politicians removed from office for what China saw as a betrayal of the regime.

Hong Kong police on Monday announced arrest warrants and cash rewards of HK$1 million, or US$168,800, for information that led to the arrest of eight high-profile pro-democracy activists, including Mr Kwok, all of whom have been living in self-imposed poverty. . conditions. exile abroad. . The list also includes Nathan Law, a former student leader and vice president.

Mr. Kwok and others fled after China Hong Kong suffers a crackdown in 2020 when it imposes national security law on the former British colony. Ostensibly to target separatism, subversion and terrorism, the law contains loosely defined offenses that critics say effectively criminalize dissent and dissent.

Canada suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong in July 2020, citing strict national security legislation. But she did not cancel it.

“Cancel it,” Mr. Kwok, who now lives in the US, advised in an interview.

He said it is time for Canada and other Western countries to realize that there is no going back to the previous friendly relations with China. People who think things will go back to normal are fooling themselves. »

After passing national security legislation, Hong Kong authorities carried out mass arrests of most remaining opposition figures and activists in the city. And in 2021 I’m out The People’s Congress of Beijing has completed a sweeping overhaul of Hong Kong’s electoral system that has severely curtailed democratic representation in the city as authorities seek to ensure “patriots” rule the global financial hub.

Australia, the United States and Britain have already condemned subsidies from Hong Kong. On Tuesday, the Canadian government criticized the arrest warrants without mentioning the rewards. However, the Department of Global Affairs has not committed to canceling the extradition treaty between Canada and Hong Kong, which is still pending.

“Canada is deeply concerned that arrest warrants have been issued by Hong Kong authorities for eight democracy activists around the world,” Charlotte MacLeod, global affairs spokeswoman, said in a statement.

“This extraterritorial application of the national security law further silences peaceful dissent and undermines the protected rights and freedoms guaranteed by Hong Kong’s Basic Law,” he said.

“We continue to call on the central authorities in Hong Kong and China to act in accordance with their legal obligations, to respect protected rights and freedoms and to ensure that the judicial system respects the rule of law.”

About 300,000 Canadian citizens live in Hong Kong, which China initially promised would enjoy Western-style freedoms after it was handed over to Britain in 1997.

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Kwok, center, walks with colleagues to central government offices in Hong Kong on June 6, 2019 to protest the government’s plans to approve extraditions with China, Taiwan and Macau.Isaac Lawrence/AFP/Getty Images

Kwok said Western governments need to think carefully about what kind of partnerships they want with China. We only work in the field of human rights. They see this as a crime that endangers national security. This could lead to life imprisonment. »

What type of system are we dealing with here? »

He pointed out that China’s recent targeting of him came after it issued a report on modern slavery and made sure that supply chains were free of forced labor products. He said, “They see it as endangering national security and it shows what they really mean when they invoke national security.”

A report it prepared for global affairs last year said Beijing in Xinjiang “is using legitimate programs to retrain and relocate the unemployed as tools in a broader campaign of oppression, exploitation and indoctrination of Uyghur Muslims in Han Chinese culture.”

“Involuntary participation in recycling and resettlement programs creates involuntary labor at the bottom of supply chains for textiles, apparel, food, and semiconductor products, including solar panels,” says the Global Affairs report.

Canada has no choice but to condemn the subsidies, said Margaret McCuaig Johnston, a former executive vice president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and a senior fellow at the University of Ottawa’s Institute of Science, Society and Policy.

Putting a number on people’s heads is barbaric. She said China does not uphold the rule of law and its attempt to impose such practices on other countries is unreasonable. “Now is also the time to end the extradition agreement with Hong Kong, which has been on hold since the National Security Law was passed in 2020. We don’t have an agreement with China, and Hong Kong has clearly become another city in China.”

Mr Kwok said countries should be alarmed by the ambitious extent of Hong Kong’s national security law, which applies even to people in other countries.

US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller quoted him in a statement earlier this week as saying that Washington condemns “the international award of information that led to the arrest of eight pro-democracy activists.” Beijing’s National Security Law sets a dangerous precedent that threatens the human rights and basic freedoms of people around the world.

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