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Agnes Chow, a well known figure in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, revealed on Sunday that she has moved to Canada due to mounting pressure from authorities. This decision comes after a period of silence following her release from prison in 2021, where she had been jailed as part of a security crackdown imposed by China.
Chow, who is 27 years old, played a pivotal role as a member of the disbanded pro-democracy group Demosisto alongside activists like Joshua Wong. The group was disbanded after Beijing enacted a national security law in 2020 which significantly hindered the movement in Hong Kong.
Chow’s departure highlights the difficulties faced by pro-democracy activists under the national security law, which has resulted in numerous arrests and garnered criticism from Western governments. While Beijing contends that the law aims to bring stability to Hong Kong, critics argue that it suppresses freedoms.
The bail conditions imposed on Chow, including police check-ins and confiscation of her passport took a toll on her well-being.
She mentioned that the constant pressure from authorities and a mandatory visit to mainland China including stops at Tencent and a call to a “patriotic exhibition” played a role in her decision to leave Hong Kong.
Throughout the trip, Chow expressed discomfort and felt under surveillance. Her situation has raised concern over the national security law in Hong Kong and its consequences for the welfare and freedoms of pro-democracy supporters.
Following her release from prison in June 2021 after serving a 10-month sentence for participating in the 2019 government protests, Chow made the decision to relocate to Canada.
The national security law implemented in 2020 has resulted in the disbandment of pro-democracy organisations and numerous arrests.
As part of her bail conditions, Chow was required to report to the police and had her passport confiscated. It was only returned after she agreed to a trip organised by the police that included visits to Chinese tech giant Tencent and a “patriotic” exhibition.
The Hong Kong police strongly criticised Chow’s intention to evade bail highlighting the perceived threat to law and order. However Chows revelations about the conditions tied to the return of her passport and the nature of her escorted trip raise concerns about the vulnerability faced by pro-democracy activists.
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