TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Five Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters have arrived in the U.S. to seek asylum, and they are reportedly the same escapees detained in Taiwan last year for entering the country illegally.
The Hongkongers, who had been involved in the city’s 2019 pro-democracy protests, have recently landed in the U.S. where they intend to file asylum applications after “an arduous and perilous journey to freedom,” said Samuel Chu (朱牧民), veteran pro-democracy activist and founder and managing director of the Washington-based Hong Kong Democracy Council (HKDC). According to Chu, the five Hongkongers, all of who are aged under 30 and have faced protest-related arrests or charges, fled the city by boat last July.
“They could have easily perished at sea or met the same fate as the 12 activists caught, detained, and jailed in the mainland by Chinese authorities,” Chu said. His statement suggests the five may have followed the same escape route as the 12 detained and jailed Hongkongers and traveled to Taiwan before departing for the U.S., even though he made no mention of Taiwan.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) declined to comment on the matter.
Several media organizations reported that the asylum seekers are likely to be the five who were apprehended by the Taiwanese Coast Guard last July. A Taiwanese journalist who claimed to have been involved in helping Hongkongers escape said last September that a group of five fled from the city on July 18 and had been detained by Taiwanese authorities after being arrested near the Dongsha Islands (東沙群島, Pratas Islands).
Last August, 12 pro-democracy protesters who attempted to flee to Taiwan by boat via the Dongsha Islands were arrested by Chinese authorities off the coast of Hong Kong. With the exception of two minors, the remaining ten were jailed for up to three yeast at the end of 2020.
Chu has been wanted by the Hong Kong police on suspicion of violating the contentious national security law, despite him being an American citizen.