Dissidents in Hong Kong continue to languish in prison, and Beijing hopes the world forgets that. So it’s good news that more than a dozen academics in 10 countries have nominated five of the city’s most prominent advocates of democracy at the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize.
The nominees include our friend Jimmy Lai, founder of Apple Daily, and Gwyneth Ho, a former Stand News reporter. Police have enforced the closure of both publications, seized their assets without a fair trial and jailed some of their employees. The Nobel nominees also include Lee Cheuk -yan and Chow Hang-tung, who helped organize Hong Kong’s annual vigil for the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre; and Joshua Wong, who first aroused Beijing’s anger as the teen leader of the 2014 Umbrella Movement.
The Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Hong Kong Constitution guarantee freedoms, including freedom of the press, expression and assembly. Yet these five Nobel nominees under the 2020 National Security Act risk life in prison for exercising these fundamental rights. The five are unusual for their courage, but authorities have arrested about 150 under the Security Act.
The effect of the law was shown again on Monday when the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents Club announced the suspension of their annual human rights press awards. “Over the last two years, journalists in Hong Kong have been operating under new ‘red lines’ about what is and is not allowed, but there are still significant areas of uncertainty and we do not want to inadvertently break the law,” he explained. President Keith Richburg in a statement.
The decision symbolizes the self-censorship that is now a daily occurrence in the territory. In the past year, Hong Kong authorities have demanded that foreign technology companies help them censor exile speech abroad and have threatened legal action against British human rights activist Benedict Rogers and these sides.
Foreign governments have imposed on China few costs to break its treaty with Britain over Hong Kong. But the rest of us can testify to the bravery of those who have resisted at great cost. A Nobel for Hong Kong Five would be an appropriate tribute and have the added benefit of bothering Beijing.
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Appeared in the print edition on April 26, 2022 as ‘Hong Kong Nobel Laureate’.