German authorities have confirmed that it received three applications from asylum seekers from Hong Kong since 2017, after news broke on Wednesday that wanted activists Ray Wong and Alan Li were granted refugee status in the country.

Wong and Li, who were leading members of the pro-independence group Hong Kong Indigenous, faced rioting charges related to the 2016 Mong Kok unrest. They fled the city in November 2017 ahead of their trials, and were granted refugee status in Germany last May.

ray wong alan li
This handout courtesy of Ray Wong taken in June 2018 and released on May 22, 2019 shows activists Ray Wong (L) and Alan Li posing for a photo in Berlin. Photo: AFP Handout.

The German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) said it received two asylum applications from Hong Kong in 2017, and one in 2018. A BAMF document dated this January showed there was one case from Hong Kong listed under “other procedures.”

The authority declined to comment on individual cases for privacy and data protection reasons. It said that asylum seekers have the chance to meet with the authorities in person and explain their situation, and the final determination is made independently and without political considerations.

The BAMF told HK01 that the third, 2018 case from Hong Kong “ended without decision” and that proceedings had been closed – meaning the application had effectively been denied.

Speaking at parliament

Wong and Li will be speaking at the German Parliament on June 4, on the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown. The event is hosted by the Green Party, and the duo will speak alongside an academic Kristin Shi-Kupfer and writer Zhou Qing.

Federal Office for Migration and Refugees
The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. Photo: BAMF website.

Wong previously told the Financial Times that he decided to reveal his situation to “raise awareness of Hong Kong’s extradition amendment and the 30th anniversary of China’s Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4.”

It remains unclear whether the Hong Kong government will seek to extradite the two activists, with the city’s security chief and justice chief dodging the question on Wednesday.

Lawmaker Regina Ip called on the government to “clarify” the situation with Berlin. Both Ip and her pro-Beijing colleague lawmaker Priscilla Leung said that Wong was wrong to link his situation to the extradition bill currently moving through the legislature.

Priscilla Leung
Priscilla Leung. Photo: LegCo.

The controversial bill, first proposed by the administration in February, would allow Hong Kong to accept extradition requests from jurisdictions with which it did not have a pre-existing rendition deal. Lawyersjournalistsforeign politicians and businesses have raised concerns, in particular, over the risk of residents being extradited to the mainland.

Leung said that the two men’s offences were committed in Hong Kong and breached local laws, meaning that there would not be any basis for China to request extradition.

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Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.