Bill Chu and Thekla Lit: Canada must defend human rights in wake of Hong Kong police targeting Victor Leung-mau Ho

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      B.C. residents Bill Chu and Thekla Lit have written to Canadian government officials about a recent Hong Kong police news naming former Vancouver newspaper editor Victor Leung-mau Ho. You can read the correspondence below.

      August 15, 2022

      Dear Right Hon. Prime Minister Trudeau and Hon. Minister Joly,

      We are immigrants from Hong Kong and people born in Canada with heritage and family connections to Hong Kong. Canada is our home and where we are proud to build community and contribute to strengthening both Canada’s economy and democracy.

      Witnessing the Chinese Communist Party’s infiltration and exertion of political influence in Canada with growing alarm, we organized to form a monitory group named as Chinese-Canadian Concern Group on the Chinese Communist Party’s Human Rights Violations. We have been especially concerned about and outspoken against risks faced by Canadians and acts of potential and de facto human rights violations happening on Canadian soil as a result of the Chinese Communist Party’s activities.

      We would like to bring to your attention that one of our group members, Victor Leung-mau Ho, is now being targeted by the Hong Kong government. A news release from the Hong Kong Security Bureau names him as being wanted by Hong Kong Police for contravening the offence of subversion of state power under the National Security Law in proposing the establishment of a virtual Hong Kong Parliament.

      “On the basis of Article 37 of the National Security Law, Police shall spare no efforts in pursuing the cases in accordance with the law in order to bring the offenders to justice,” a portion of the release reads.

      Victor is a veteran journalist and active media commentator. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Vancouver’s Sing Tao Daily, one of the two major Chinese-language dailies in Canada.

      It is appalling that a Canadian citizen exercising his freedom of expression and freedom of association in Canada, with his rights and freedom entrusted by our constitution, could be charged and wanted by a foreign government. As Victor could be the first Canadian who is being targeted by the Hong Kong government for comments made in Canada, we request that the government of Canada take a strong stand defending the rights and freedoms of our citizens.

      Although we are relieved that Canada has suspended its extradition agreement with Hong Kong right after the installation of their National Security Law, so that Victor would not be facing extradition here in Canada, we are still alarmed by the fact that a Canadian citizen exercising his freedom of expression and freedom of association in our country could land on the Hong Kong government’s wanted list.

      Being on Hong Kong’s wanted list has serious and unpredictable implications for Victor and his family members. While Victor is relatively safe in Canada, we are concerned for his safety were he to travel to countries that have extradition agreements with Hong Kong and China. For these reasons, we ask what Canada will do to protect Victor, not only in Canada but also abroad.

      This incident is a serious violation of democratic rights here in Canada, as others following Victor may similarly face persecution from the Hong Kong and Chinese government for lawful expressions and actions in Canada.

      This letter is NOT built on the group’s validation of any activities or ideologies related to the Hong Kong Parliament.

      The National Security Law is heavily criticized by democratic governments and human rights organizations worldwide. On the first day the law took effect in 2020, 370 people were arrested, including a 15-year-old youth. More people are being charged and arrested every day. Canada must stand strong against this draconian law, especially now as it seeks to spread its influence and reach onto Canadian soil, against Canadian citizens.

      Many Canadians have strong cultural and family ties to Hong Kong, or are passionate proponents of human rights, democracy, and freedom of speech worldwide. With Victor being targeted, this would create a chilling effect in Canada where people will fear commenting or rallying against Hong Kong and China’s human rights abuses. We are certain that you will find this violation of freedom in Canada unacceptable.

      Canada must act to restore Canadian’s trust in our ability to exercise our freedom of speech here in Canada. We are now asking the government of Canada: how will Canada ensure that Canadians’ basic rights and freedom would not be oppressed by foreign powers and affirm the freedom from fear for all its citizens as established in 1948's United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

      Sincerely yours,

      Bill Chu & Thekla Lit

      Spokespersons of Chinese-Canadian Concern Group on the Chinese Communist Party’s Human Rights Violations

      Prime minister's response

      August 18, 2022

      Dear Bill Chu & Thekla Lit:

      On behalf of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, I would like to acknowledge
      receipt of your correspondence.

      Please be assured that your comments have been carefully reviewed. I have
      taken the liberty of forwarding your email to the Honourable Marco
      Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety, for his information and consideration.

      Thank you for taking the time to write.

      M. Bredeson
      Executive Correspondence Officer | Agent de correspondance
      Executive Correspondence Services | Services de la correspondance

      Follow-up letter to Minister of Public Safety

      August 25, 2022

      Dear Hon. Minister Mendocino,

      We are writing to follow up on a letter originally sent to the offices of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs on August 15th, 2022. We were informed by the Executive Correspondence Officer at the Prime Minister’s Office on August 18th that our letter was forwarded to your office for your information and consideration.

      We have enclosed with this letter our original letter and the press release from the Government of Hong Kong for your information.

      To reiterate our previous letter, we are a group of Chinese-Canadians who are immigrants from Hong Kong and people born in Canada with heritage and family connections to Hong Kong who are increasingly concerned by the Chinese Communist Party's infiltration and exertion of political influence in Canada. We are also concerned about the growing risks faced by Canadians and acts of potential and de facto human rights violations happening on Canadian soil as a result of the Chinese Communist Party's activities. Our growing alarm led us to form a monitory group named as Chinese-Canadian Concern Group on the Chinese Communist Party's Human Rights Violations.

      We had originally written to the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs when we found out via the Hong Kong government’s press release that one of our members, Mr. Victor Leung-mau Ho, is wanted by Hong Kong Police for contravening the offence of subversion of state power under the National Security Law in proposing the establishment of a virtual Hong Kong Parliament.

      Victor Ho is a Canadian citizen and a veteran journalist and active media commentator. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Vancouver's Sing Tao Daily, one of the two major Chinese-language dailies in Canada. We are appalled that a Canadian citizen exercising his freedom of expression and freedom of association in Canada, with his rights and freedom entrusted by our constitution, could be charged and wanted by a foreign government.

      As far as we are aware, Mr. Ho the first Canadian who is being targeted by the Hong Kong government for comments made in Canada, and we fear that others following Victor may similarly face persecution from the Hong Kong and Chinese government for lawful expressions and actions in Canada.

      We are also concerned for the safety of Victor were he to travel abroad to countries that have extradition agreements with Hong Kong and China, as well as for the safety of his family members, some of whom are in Hong Kong or otherwise have important family and other ties to Hong Kong that necessitates travel to the Special Administrative Region.

      The implications for Victor and his family are serious and unpredictable. While the National Security Law is unclear on what actions constitute sedition and other offences under the law, it carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. Disturbingly, there are recent reports that some National Security Law trials will even be carried out without jury on the order of Hong Kong’s Secretary of Justice. The Hong Kong government has also asserted that the law can be enforced on anyone. Hong Kong national security law Chapter III, Part 6, Article 38, states that:

      “This Law shall apply to offences under this Law committed against the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region from outside the Region by a person who is not a permanent resident of the Region.”

      The August 3rd announcement from the Hong Kong government also “appeal to the public to disassociate themselves from individuals contravening the Hong Kong Security Law… so as to avoid bearing any unnecessary legal risks.” This directly limits and threatens Canadians’ freedom of assembly with any Canadian targeted by the National Security Law.

      To date, the Chinese embassy in Canada has not expressed their intentions and actions toward Canadians wanted under the National Security Law. The severity of penalties for this law and the uncertainty of its implications for Canadians creates an atmosphere of fear that is already having a chilling effect on proponents of democracy and human rights, and critiques of human rights abuses committed by the Communist Party of China by Canadians on Canadian soil.

      We are certain that Canadians feeling they are not able to exercise their freedom of speech and assembly in Canada for fear of retaliation from a foreign government is an unacceptable situation for the Canadian government. It is therefore of paramount importance that the government of Canada take a strong stand defending the rights and freedoms of our citizens.

      We therefore ask that the Canadian government act immediately to restore Canadian's trust in our ability to exercise our freedom of speech and assembly here in Canada, and to act to ensure the safety of Canadians at home and abroad.

      We also ask the government to strongly oppose the National Security Law, a law that is heavily criticized by the United Nation’s Human Rights Committee, democratic governments and human rights organizations worldwide, especially now as it seeks to spread its influence and reach onto Canadian soil, against Canadian citizens.

      We are now reiterating our question to the Prime Minister: how will Canada ensure that Canadians' basic rights and freedom would not be oppressed by foreign powers and affirm the freedom from fear for all its citizens as established in 1948's United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

      Sincerely yours,

      Bill Chu & Thekla Lit

      Spokespersons of Chinese-Canadian Concern Group on the Chinese Communist Party’s Human Rights Violations

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