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Refugees: Hong Kong activists urge German authorities to simplify asylum seeking process

Activists in Hong Kong want Berlin to accept more asylum-seekers amid a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. German authorities recently granted asylum to a 22-year-old Hong Kong activist.

An activist who fled Hong Kong in November last year has confirmed that she was granted refugee status in Germany on October 14.

Elaine told DW that she was arrested for rioting and violating anti-mask rules in connection with last year’s anti-government protests in Hong Kong. Elaine, who was a university student in Hong Kong, said she fled the city because she feared its judicial system had come under increased pressure from Beijing.

She refused to give details of her flight to Germany, fearing it could have repercussions for her family and friends in Hong Kong.

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It’s not the first time Germany has given asylum to Hong Kong citizens. In 2018, German authorities granted two prominent activists, Ray Wong and Alan Li, refugee status. But Elaine was the first asylum applicant in Germany who is directly linked to last year’s anti-extradition law protests in Hong Kong.

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Wong, who now runs the Haven Assistance organization, which provides aid and advice to Hong Kong citizens seeking asylum or immigration, helped Elaine come to Germany.

He told DW that Elaine’s case shows that Berlin is taking human rights violations in Hong Kong seriously.

“The National Security Law might be a reason behind the approval of her asylum,” Wong said.

Beijing’s new security law, which it imposed on Hong Kong in July, targets what authorities in mainland China define as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. Those violating the law could face up to life in prison.

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It has drawn international condemnation for jeopardizing Hong Kong’s civil liberties enshrined under the “one country, two systems” framework, including freedom of speech and assembly.

The German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) told DW in an email that “the origin of a particular country or the membership of a particular ethnic group do not automatically lead to a certain form of protection.”

In a statement released on October 21, the Hong Kong government “expressed strong opposition to Germany’s move” to grant asylum to activists. It also said it “strongly objects to other jurisdictions harbouring criminals under different pretexts.”