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Hong Kong activist Nathan Law says he fled city

July 2, 2020

Law said he fled overseas due to Beijing's national security law imposed on the city. His announcement came as the local government made one of the most popular slogans of the city's pro-democracy protests illegal. 

Hongkong Nathan Law, Aktivist
Image: Getty Images/A. Kwan

Nathan Law, a prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activist, announced on Thursday that he fled overseas in response to a sweeping security law imposed by Beijing.

"I have already left Hong Kong and continue the advocacy work on the international level," Law said on Facebook. "Based on risk assessment, I shall not reveal too much about my personal whereabouts and situation now."

In an interview with DW, Law said the controversial national security law that went in place in Hong Kong was "tailor made for squeezing" activists' international work and that the legislation was behind his decision to continue advocacy work from outside Hong Kong.

Hongkong activist Nathan Law speaks to DW

His announcement came as the local government released a statement confirming that the popular protest slogan, "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times" was now illegal under the new security law.

That became one of the top phrases chanted by crowds of pro-democracy protesters and shared on banners. In a statement, Hong Kong's government said the phrase was now illegal because it "contains the indications of Hong Kong independence, or alienating Hong Kong from China, or changing its legal status, or subverting the state."

Read more: China's security law: The end of Hong Kong's semi-autonomous status?

'I hope the day will come when I can return'

Law had shouted the slogan in a video message to a US Congress committee on Wednesday, shortly after the new security legislation took effect. Also on Wednesday, the first arrests were made under the new law, mainly of protesters who were found to be in possession of pro-independence flags or stickers. 

In a Facebook post, Law also described staring at Hong Kong as his plane flew away. "As I look down at the magnificence of Hong Kong from the airplane, this image has become one unforgettable scene in my mind," he wrote. "I hope the day will come when I can return to Hong Kong again and I can still be that young guy who hasn't forgotten about his initial aspirations."

"I wish Hong Kong all the best, and I hope the glory will return to the city soon," he said. 

Law, a founding member of Demosisto, a pro-democracy party in Hong Kong, announced his resignation from the group, along with prominent activist Joshua Wong, earlier this week. The now-disbanded Demosisto called for democracy and Hong Kongers to have greater input in how the city is run. 

However, both Law and Wong were dubbed as "black hands” and separatists who conspired to undermine China. Both activists expressed fear that they would be heavily targeted by the new legislation, which outlaws subversion, secessionism, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.

lc/rs (AFP, Reuters)