One of the four opposition lawmakers ousted from their seats last November by the Hong Kong government has moved to Canada with his family. The pro-democracy Civic Party’s Dennis Kwok confirmed his move to The Globe and Mail on Thursday.
Kwok, who was born in Canada but renounced his citizenship to become a Hong Kong lawmaker in 2012, is now seeking to regain his Canadian citizenship, according to the newspaper.
The paper declined to disclose his exact whereabouts and details of his passage out of Hong Kong, citing fears the former lawmaker “could be the target of retaliation from Chinese government agents.”
Kwok was abruptly ousted alongside colleagues Alvin Yeung, Kwok Ka-ki and Kenneth Leung after Beijing passed a decision granting the local government power to disqualify lawmakers deemed to have violated their oaths of loyalty, in a move that bypassed the city’s courts.
The rest of the democratic camp collectively resigned in sympathy with the four on the same day, emptying the city’s legislature of an effective opposition.
At the time, Dennis Kwok said he had been proud to serve as a Hong Kong lawmaker: “I have said that…if fighting for democracy and human rights would lead to the consequences of being disqualified, it would be my honour. I say the same today…it’s been my honour to serve.”
The ousting ended Kwok’s eight-year term as representative for the legal sector in the Legislative Council. The barrister announced his decision to resign from politics later the same month, saying that “parliamentary politics has become obsolete” in the city.
His colleagues Kwok Ka-ki and Yeung were later arrested and charged for subversion with 45 others under the national security law for having participated in an unofficial primary election for the democratic camp last July. The two have been denied bail and remain in custody.
Dennis Kwok is the latest in a string of ex-opposition lawmakers to leave Hong Kong since Beijing imposed a national security law on the city designed to quell all dissent last summer.
Canada has granted asylum to at least 14 Hong Kong pro-democracy activists at the start of this year, according to rights groups.
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.