Pro-democracy activist Tony Chung flees Hong Kong to seek asylum in UK

Chung says supervison order put him under ‘enormous amount of stress’

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Friday 29 December 2023 05:25

Related: Protesters occupy Hong Kong Airport

One of Hong Kong's youngest pro-democracy activists has fled the city and formally applied for political asylum in the UK after completing his jail term.

Tony Chung, 22, breached a supervision order to seek asylum due to constant scrutiny in Hong Kong, which put him under an "enormous amount of stress".

Chung was arrested under the Beijing-imposed national security law following the democracy protests in 2019 in Hong Kong. He was sentenced to 43 months in prison in November 2021 on charges of secession and money laundering.

Critics of the government say the draconian law, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, has been weaponised to stifle protest and used to arrest nearly 300 people since its implementation in 2020.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, Chung announced that he had arrived in the UK earlier this week seeking political refuge after being put under “stringent surveillance” following his release from prison in June.

Chung was reportedly granted permission from the Correctional Services Department to travel to Japan for Christmas. He took a flight from Japan to reach the UK on Wednesday.

"After making the decision ‘my heart sank’,” Chung wrote, adding: “I dedicated my life to social movements since age 14".

“We shouldn’t be the ones leaving.”

He said the police were monitoring his bank account information and banned him from accepting a summer job, saying he wasn’t allowed to work in that “specific business”.

"In the past six months with no income from any work, the national security police officers kept on coercing and inducing me to join them," he wrote.

"From October onwards until the present day, I have intermittently fallen ill. During this period, I sought medical consultations from both Western and Chinese doctors, all of whom diagnosed my condition as a result of significant mental stress and psychological factors, leading to a weakened immune system," he added.

Chung told the Washington Post that he was made to take part in a compulsory "deradicalisation" programme in detention where guards said to those who had been detained that they were "manipulated" by the US.

He is the second pro-democracy activist to leave the Asian finance hub in December after former student leader, Agnes Chow, announced she had moved to Canada and would not return to Hong Kong to meet her bail conditions.

Several other activists, including Nathan Law, Anna Kwok and Finn Lau, have fled abroad fearing arrest and now have bounties placed on them.

Meanwhile, a Hong Kong court sentenced three activists to up to six years in prison for their involvement in a foiled plot to bomb public buildings.

The activists, aged between 20 to 23, were part of the pro-democracy "Returning Valiant" group.

The trio was arrested in July 2021 and subsequently charged with "conspiracy to commit terrorism" under the security law.

The court heard that Ho Yu-wang, Kwok Man-hei, and Cheung Ho-yeung had planned to make bombs using the explosives and place them in various public buildings.

Ho, who was arrested at the age of 17, was "primarily responsible for making the explosives", according to prosecutors. He was sentenced to six years in prison.

Kwok was handed two-and-a-half years in prison, while Cheung received six years for being the first to raise the idea of "targeting government offices, court buildings and police quarters".

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