A prominent figure in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement who fled the territory after being arrested has called on the Australian government to prioritise protesters in its safe haven visas.
Jay, who did not want his identity made public for fear of reprisal, came to Australia months ago after fleeing the territory because of fears he would face an unfair trial in Hong Kong.
“But I came to Australia immediately after I was caught and charged. I was caught in one of the protests with the charge of riot,” he told The New Daily.
If I stayed in Hong Kong I may face an unfair trial as the legal system in Hong Kong is corrupt.
“Many cases show the judge is not neutral. The judges are pro-Beijing.”
China has warned Australia of meddling in its business after Scott Morrison flagged last week that his government was considering citizens from the Special Administrative Region safe haven visas.
“We urge Australia to treat Hong Kong’s national security law in an objective manner and immediately stop interfering in China’s internal affairs through the so-called Hong Kong issue,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.
Hong Kong has been rocked by violent scenes, with more than 300 people already arrested.
In the latest move, books by pro-democracy figures have been removed from Hong Kong’s public libraries.
The BCC reports the works will be reviewed to see if they violate the new law, according to the authority which runs the libraries.
Pro-democracy group Australia-Hong Kong Link told The New Daily this week it had seen a huge spike in people asking for information on various Australian visas since the national security law passed.
The group says it is in the process of helping 12 citizens apply for protection status.
Jay said Australia should give priority to other frontline protesters as they would be punished unfairly by the Chinese government.
“I appreciate that Australian government is trying to help the Hongkongers with safe haven, but I think we should have a clear priority first.
People who are charged or who are actively involved in this movement should be offered the safe haven first.
“They put a lot of effort in this movement and they are at a high risk of being the target from the national security bill and other unfair trial.
“Their bright future is gone. They should be protected first. It will be heartbreaking seeing people with little effort or even no effort can benefit from the safe haven while the true frontline protesters or active protesters are in jail.”
He initially joined the protest because he was concerned the relatively free city would become “part of China”.
As the violence escalated, Jay was shot at by rubber bullets and beaten by police.
“I was beaten in the head, chest and leg when they were catching me, but this is just a small case when compared to other incidents.
I remember one time they shot towards my head, but my helmet protected me.’’
Now on a bridging visa, Jay will have to wait up to two years to see if his asylum application is successful.
He said if he returned home, he would be instantly arrested, put on trial and potentially tortured.
Many others are fleeing the country.
High-profile activist Nathan Law revealed on his Facebook page that he had fled the country after testifying to a US congressional hearing about the national security law.
“Hi this is Nathan. I have already left Hong Kong and continue the advocacy work on the international level. Based on risk assessment, I shall not reveal too much about my personal whereabouts and situation now,” he said, according to a translation published in the South China Morning Post.
Jay says he misses his friends and family, but mostly he worries for the fate of his fellow protesters who have stayed to fight.
“I worry about the other protesters a lot. I am just one of the lucky ones that can flee to other countries,” he said.
“Many of them are not able to leave, as when they were caught their passport was collected by the court and even some of them are in jail now.
“I hope the safe haven can help them to leave by any means and they can seek protection in Australia. They are the ones sacrificing the most.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. The Chinese Communist Party trying to persecute Hongkongers is a threat to the world.
“If they can do this to Hong Kong today, they can do it again to other countries.”