Good evening. My name is Ai-Men Lau.
Thank you for inviting me to speak today.
I'd also like to thank the administrative, technical and translation team for all their hard work.
From the 2019 peaceful protest movement until today, Hong Kong's autonomy has been decimated by the Chinese Communist Party and the Hong Kong government. This has continued with impunity and the inaction has only emboldened the Chinese regime.
The Hong Kong government uses the national security law to stamp out street protests, silence dissenting voices, gut the city's legislature, decimate political opposition and weaponize COVID-19 health measures to restrict movement, mobility and gatherings, effectively bringing the entire movement to its knees.
Without an opposition, Beijing has implemented sweeping institutional changes to ensure complete control over the city's governance, including stripping Hong Kong of its electoral autonomy, requiring pledges of allegiance in public sectors, firing teachers for their political views and delegitimizing university student unions. It is also targeting trade unions and religious groups, raiding and targeting pro-democratic yellow businesses, requiring professional bodies like the Hong Kong Bar Association to adhere to its patriotic statutory duties and requiring Internet service providers to ban specific websites under the national security law.
Beijing's political imperative has now seeped into society and private life.
Living in fear and uncertainty, pro-democracy Hong Kongers are struggling to see a brighter future. Two years ago, Hong Kongers were able to march the streets in protest to voice their concerns. Today, they can be arrested for simply holding up blank pieces of paper in protest.
We have witnessed countless coordinated attacks by police officers and triads on regular civilians and arbitrary arrests of medics and reporters. Protestors were raped, beaten, tortured and denied due process. Co-organizers have gone missing for months on end and many more have fled to Taiwan via boat.
As of February 28 of this year, there were 10,242 arrests and 2,506 prosecutions related to the protests, yet after two years of perpetrating violent state and police suppression, few, if any, police officers, triad members or government officials have been held accountable.
Over 60% of youth in Hong Kong are hoping to leave the city. In a city-wide survey conducted by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute, one in five Hong Kongers is seeking to flee the city and 65% are not confident about Hong Kong's political future.
Even before the passage of the national security law, many Hong Kongers who hold foreign passports or have the financial resources have fled the city in fear of retaliation for their involvement in the protest movement. Now even that may be at risk. The Hong Kong government has passed a law that can bar people from leaving or entering, transforming Hong Kong into an open-air prison. This law will come into effect August 1, meaning we have a limited window of time to act.
We have three recommendations for the committee to consider.
First, we have previously submitted recommendations to CIMM, which we will also be submitting to this committee. Canada should create a dedicated asylum pathway for those fleeing prosecution or persecution, along with other immigration policy changes, such as modifying private sponsorship and family reunification that enables extended family members to resettle here. Canada should also plan to support the 300,000 Canadians and their families who need to renew permanent residence status or make applications. We urge you to consider the travel visa restrictions that have barred many from entering Canada, either seeking asylum or for resettling permanently.
Second, even though Hong Kongers are hoping to leave the city, we know that many more cannot leave. This is why we need to hold Hong Kong and Chinese officials accountable. Canada should invoke the Justice to Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, and place targeted sanctions against the Hong Kong government, the Hong Kong Police Force and PRC officials who are complicit in perpetrating human rights violations.
We must also ensure that these sanctions are enforceable by the Government of Canada.
Finally, we also urge Canada to address foreign state harassment operations, as dissidents' families are also targeted by authorities in Hong Kong and China.
Thank you, again, for inviting me. I am happy to take your questions.