Around 500 Hong Kongers living in Sydney held a commemorative rally at the city’s Town Hall on June 12, the second anniversary of Hong Kong’s Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill (Anti-ELAB) movement.
The rally was held to remember the millions who marched peacefully in 2019 against the Hong Kong executive’s proposed amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, which would have allowed Chinese agents to extradite Hong Kongers to mainland China freely. The protest grew in momentum until 2 million people took to the streets —a quarter of Hong Kong’s population.
Speaking at the rally, Australian Senator Tony Sheldon accused the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) of violating the Sino-British Joint Declaration and undermining democracy in Hong Kong and called on Australia to implement its own version of the Magnitsky Act.
“It’s quite clear that the Magnitsky Act is the Australian version of holding those responsible for objectionable behavior, on freedom, on rights [accountable]. [It’s] your opportunity to speak out that they should be correctly implemented in Australia,” Sheldon said.
“It’s critically important for us in this country, for all of us residing in this country to stand up for democracy and freedom,” he said. “As Hong Kong is, and supporters of Hong Kong is, I’m very proud to say free Hong Kong.”
Sheldon also called on the current Australian government to follow the example of Prime Minister Bob Hawke and offer residency to Hong Kongers living in Australia. In 1989, in the wake of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, then Prime Minister Hawke offered residency and citizenship to all Chinese students studying in Australia.
Ted Hui, the former Hong Kong councillor who is now in exile in Adelaide, flew to Sydney to attend the rally. Hui said that it had been half a year since he left Hong Kong. He felt honoured and excited to see so many Hong Kongers together and hear them shout the slogans of the Anti-ELAB movement.
“I remember that day we all stood together, outside the Hong Kong parliament, I was about to step in,” he said. “When I reached the Legislative Council, it was already surrounded by all the young people. I was so touched. When I saw them, they asked me, ‘Congressman Hui, will you join us?’ I replied, ‘Of course I’ll join you!’”
“So on that day, I made my determination… that I will follow them around, wherever they go, wherever they are, protest, wherever they won’t have those, I should stand in front of them, not behind them. That’s my determination, and that determination is still valid.”
The former councillor hopes that in the future, the wisdom of different forms of Hong Kongers will gather together to become a greater power.
“I believe that by taking many steps together, we can become a bigger stakeholder, taking one more step together, reaching out to places in the world which see and hear us, reaching out to local communities, reaching out to councils and councillors, reaching out to them to speak for us internationally.”
“But we’ll not just rely on them. Looking back at the many exiles around the world, why are they still standing decades and centuries later? Because they came together, they were willing to go one step further.”
“So I hope, Hong Kong people, we will come together, we will take many steps, we will carry on this spirit.”
“I am confident that, in time, we will return to a free Hong Kong.”