Rallies were held in nine cities across Canada on Aug. 16 to call on the government to take “immediate action” to respond to the crisis in the city since the implementation of Beijing’s national security law.
The event was organized by Canada-Hong Kong Link and Ontario Universities Hong Kong Awareness Group in response to the growing suppression of freedoms and human rights in the former British colony.
The groups are calling on Ottawa to take steps to protect the freedoms of Hong Kongers and sanction Chinese and Hong Kong officials who violate human rights.
In Toronto, nearly 700 people gathered downtown in front of the old city hall where Gloria Fung, the president of Canada-Hong Kong Link, opened the rally by reading a joint statement signed by nearly 50 groups across the country who are concerned about Hong Kong’s situation.
“We urge our Canadian government to take immediate action to respond to the crisis in Hong Kong. We also call upon our government to use the Magnitsky law to sanction Chinese and HK officials who have been responsible for the violation of human rights in China and Hong Kong,” said Fung.
Chinese-Canadian democracy activist and author Sheng Xue said in her speech that since the Chinese communist regime seized power and implemented its “brutal rule of state terrorism” 71 years ago, the struggle has never stopped.
“We all know that millions of Falun Gong practitioners died from forced living organ harvesting, millions of Uyghurs were locked up in concentration camps, and more than  Tibetans have self-immolated to protest the CCP’s tyranny,” Sheng said.
“To truly have democracy, freedom, and peace for everyone, if there is to be truly peace in this world, all people must stand together to end the CCP’s tyranny.”
On Aug. 10, Media tycoon Jimmy Lai, owner of Hong Kong’s Apple Daily, and pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow were arrested, along with 10 others, as part of a crackdown under the national security law.
Although Lai and Chow were released on bail a few days later, their arrest signals the acceleration of Beijing’s tightening control over the city. Observers believe the new legislation marks the end of Hong Kong’s autonomy, rule of law, and fundamental freedoms under the “One Country, Two Systems” principle.
“CCP is not China! CCP is Tyranny! CCP has ruined 5,000 years of China’s history,” well-known Hong Kong actor and singer Joe Tay, now known as the Hong Kong singer in exile, said in his speech.
“Three hundred thousand Canadians are now working in fear under the national security law in Hong Kong, afraid that making a post, making a contact with their Canadian friends or relatives will be colluding with foreign powers.”
At the end of the rally, Tay led the crowd to sing “Glory to Hong Kong.”
After the rally, Tay told NTD Television in an interview that he and his wife left Hong Kong because they felt threatened under the national security law, adding that all his work has been suspended.
He said when he learned that Nathan Law, a prominent figure in the Hong Kong democracy protests since 2014, had fled Hong Kong for the U.K., where he continues to work for the freedom movement, it prompted him to come to Canada and work for the cause from here.
The organizers of the rally said in a media advisory that the security law is the latest—and “the most egregious”—in a series of actions to suppress freedom and human rights in Hong Kong, and reaches beyond China’s borders.
“This law not only sets the stage for a massive assault on the civil rights of Hong Kong people and the 300,000 Canadians living there, it also claims extraterritorial jurisdiction over any person anywhere in the world.”
When Fung testified before the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations during a video conference on Aug 11, she also pointed out that the security law claims extraterritorial jurisdiction, and the worrisome ramifications of that.
“Anyone anywhere in the world who criticizes the Chinese or Hong Kong governments could be considered a criminal under its vaguely worded provisions criminalizing the incitement of hatred against China,” she said.
“Our government must take this grave threat to Canadians’ safety seriously.”
Noting that “Hong Kong is on the frontlines of a worldwide conflict pitting totalitarianism against freedom and democracy,” Fung called on Ottawa to take the following actions:
- Offer a “Safe Harbour Program” with an expedited process to grant permanent residency status to Hong Kongers at risk of political persecution, including international students and expatriate workers who have participated in protests in Canada.
- Invoke the Magnitsky Act to sanction Chinese and Hong Kong officials who violate human rights and to ban them and their immediate family members from Canada and freeze their Canadian assets. The United States has already done this.
- Introduce legislation to combat foreign interference in Canadian politics and suppression of freedom of expression on Canadian soil.