Glacier Kwong, a digital rights activist currently residing in Germany, has said she fears returning to Hong Kong after starting a petition calling on Berlin to impose sanctions against China.

“I really love the city and would always love to go home,” Kwong told HKFP on Tuesday. “I do fear coming home and do not feel safe coming back. It’s just not the same place that I grew up in.”

Glacier Kwong (right) and David Missal (Left). Photo: Wir für Hongkong.

On Monday, Kwong posted a screenshot of a Telegram message on Twitter in which she said a Hong Kong civil servant had urged her to halt her activism if she wanted to return to the city. Kwong said she had received an uptick in threatening messages since she filed the petition.

“Chances are I will be arrested right away if I set foot in HK,” she said in a response to HKFP.

Petition action

On behalf of a German pro-protest lobbying group “Wir für Hongkong,” Kwong and German activist David Missal have been gathering signatures for an online petition calling on the German Bundestag to sanction China since September.

The petition urges Berlin to ban from entry and freeze the assets of people in China who break international law. It also calls on the authorities to sue China in the International Court of Justice. The German parliament will have to discuss the matter if the petition reaches 50,000 signatures.

Kwong has been politically active since 2012, campaigning primarily for digital rights and data protection of Hongkongers. As a Keyboard Frontline activist, she was involved in the Umbrella Movement, calling for international support for the pro-democracy protests. Kwong moved to Hamburg, Germany, for her studies in 2018.

National security law
Photo: GovHK.

In response to HKFP’s enquiry on whether Kwong is in breach of the National Security Law, a Hong Kong Security Bureau spokesperson said the government did not comment on speculation.

“Whether any activity contravenes the National Security Law will be determined having regard to all the relevant circumstances of the case, which include the facts, conduct, intent, as well as the evidence gathered, and in accordance with relevant laws,” a spokesperson said.

In June 2020, Beijing inserted national security legislation directly into Hong Kong’s mini-constitution – bypassing the local legislature – following a year of pro-democracy protests and unrest. It criminalised subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts, which were broadly defined to include disruption to transport and other infrastructure. The move gave police sweeping new powers, alarming democrats, civil society groups and trade partners, as such laws have been used broadly to silence and punish dissidents in China. However, the authorities say it has restored stability and peace to the city.

Additional reporting: Tom Grundy.

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Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.