Ben, a protestor from Hong Kong who has re-settled in Taiwan, suffered a recurring nightmare for months, dreaming that his fellow protesters were being tortured by police while he was unable to help them.
Ben’s feeling of helplessness has eased after ten months of seeking refuge in Taiwan and his fighting spirit has now returned. He is finding ways to resist Beijing from Taiwan, by joining forces together with dozens of former Hongkongers. Taiwan has been discreetly allowing dozens of protesters to stay on the island since October, and it is now offering support for Hongkongers to move there once Beijing passes the new national security law.
Critics say the national security law is the final nail in the coffin for the former British colony’s disappearing freedoms, while Beijing says the law against subversion is necessary to deal with widespread anti-government unrest in Hong Kong.
Ben, who refused to use his real name because he fears facing prosecution in Hong Kong for his role in the protests, said “The protesters can no longer help Hong Kong, so what we can do is put our power overseas.” He helped to organise a demonstration earlier this month in the Taipei shopping district of Ximending.
The 21-year-old said “We know we are dying but we hope that China can get the same punishment. We want what is happening to us to happen to China.” “We want all the world to think ‘do we want to do business with a country which treats the people so bad’.”
In July last year following the storming of the Legislative Council building, young protesters started fleeing to Taiwan as police intensified crackdowns. Activists estimate at least 200 protesters are still in Taiwan, while many returned to Hong Kong as they are not able to stay permanently.
Through extending tourist visas and encouraging Hongkongers to enroll in university courses to gain student visas, authorities managed to discreetly allow them to stay in Taiwan for the short term. Masks, helmets and other supplies were sent to protesters back home by some protesters and other Hongkongers in Taiwan.
Hongkongers and local Taiwanese donate food and drinks to the protesters living in Taiwan at the Chi-nan Presbyterian church next to Taiwan’s parliament. Protesters don’t see any way they can go back in the short term even if they miss home, and they have to cope with frequent parental disapproval over their hand in the protests.
Ben started classes at a university back in March to help Hong Kong students transfer to a course in Taiwan. He himself has plans to study politics later this year in Taiwan. “If in the future I can go back to Hong Kong, I hope I can use all my knowledge to help Hong Kong,” he said. Back in May, President Tsai Ing-wen became the first government leader to pledge to help Hongkongers wanting to leave after the announcement of the national security law was made.
Last week, the government’s Mainland Affairs Council, which handles cross-strait affairs, said that it will set up a dedicated office on July 1st in Taipei to help Hong Kong citizens gain residency, and businesses and NGOs to move to Taiwan. Ahead of the opening of the office, Taiwan said on Wednesday that it would ease border restrictions to allow people from Hong Kong in on humanitarian grounds.
Kolas Yotaka, Taiwan presidential office spokesperson, said “Taiwan strongly condemns China for hurting democracy and human rights in Hong Kong, and will keep helping Hong Kongers providing practical support and assistance based on our laws.” Financial assistance for those who come to Taiwan for political reasons will be offered by the office, though it is emphasized by officials that this is not a refugee programme and Hongkongers still have to legally enter Taiwan.
26th June 18:20
This article brought to you by Legacy Times 传城时代
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