Several Hong Kong protesters involved in the storming of the Legislative Council on July 1 have fled to Taiwan because of fears over unfair prosecution.
Apple Daily cited unnamed sources on Friday stating that the activists – mostly students – had fled to the self-ruled island, with some planning to seek long-term visas or asylum. A source with knowledge of the situation confirmed to HKFP that over 30 demonstrators are now in Taiwan, with possibly more planning to leave Hong Kong.
The storming of the legislature on the evening of July 1 came after weeks of anti-extradition bill demonstrations, with protesters criticising Chief Executive Carrie Lam for not responding to the public’s demands.
At a Friday media briefing, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen was quoted saying that the “friends from Hong Kong” will be treated “appropriately and on humanitarian grounds.”
The relevant departments were aware of the situation, Tsai added.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, which handles cross-straits matters, did not confirm whether it was in touch with Hong Kong protesters. It said that if the government received any asylum requests, they would be handled in accordance with law and human rights principles.
According to Apple Daily’s report, protesters started fleeing to Taiwan three to four days after the event, and 30 of them are now scattered across the island. Some were reportedly receiving aid from non-profit organisations, while others paid for their own accommodation.
Some protesters are in the process of applying for student visas, but are still awaiting approval. Others are seeking some form of asylum, despite Taiwan’s lack of formal refugee laws. Most protesters have received legal advice and some have met among themselves, according to the report.
On Thursday, Radio Free Asia also reported that “more than a dozen” anti-extradition protesters had fled to the island.
An unnamed Taiwanese lawyer told RFA that it was difficult to back up the protesters’ asylum request with evidence, since they left Hong Kong before police caught up with them.
In recent years, Taiwan has become a refuge for self-proclaimed exiles from Hong Kong: bookseller Lam Wing-kee emigrated in April, and activist Lee Sin-yi has reportedly stayed in Taiwan since 2017.