Hong Kong pro-independence activist Wayne Chan has jumped bail and fled the city, citing concerns that a large group of political figures could be arrested and prosecuted under soon-to-be-passed national security legislation.
Chan, convenor of the Hong Kong Independence Union, announced on Facebook on Sunday that he had left the city. He was on bail awaiting trial on charges connected to allegedly participating in an unlawful assembly during an anti-extradition bill demonstration in Wan Chai last June 10.
Chan said Hong Kong would face a “historic decay” soon, referring to Beijing’s resolution to implement laws to punish acts that it deems a threat to national security. The proposed legislation that criminalises secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in the city is likely to be voted and passed at China’s legislature meeting, which will conclude on Tuesday.
“After the national security law is passed, we can anticipate that a large group of political figures will be arrested, and may be imprisoned immediately without bail,” Chan wrote.
“What comes after is a form of mass arrests at street protests – to randomly arrest a group of protesters and charge them with terrorist activity under the national security law.”
Beijing’s unprecedented move to bypass the local legislature has stunned democrats, civil society groups and trade partners, as such laws have been used broadly to silence and punish dissidents in China.
Chan added Hong Kong would fight for the “inevitable” self-determination and independence, and encouraged Hongkongers not to lose hope, despite a “painful future” ahead as society would go down the path of “mutual destruction,” he said.
“But I promise you all, my departure does not mean I have given up. I know the door to Hong Kong independence has been opened,” he said.
Earlier this month, Beijing mouthpiece Wen Wei Po reported that Chan did not report to a police station as required and has fled to the Netherlands. The pro-Beijing Oriental Daily later cited sources who said Chan has transferred to the UK. The activist did not mention his whereabouts in his post.
In May 2018, activists Ray Wong and Alan Li – who were leading members of the pro-independence group Hong Kong Indigenous – were granted asylum status in Germany. They fled the city in November 2017 before their trials on rioting charges related to the 2016 Mong Kok unrest.