An anti-government protester reacts as police fire tear gas during a march billed as a global "emergency call" for autonomy, in Hong Kong on November 2, 2019. (REUTERS file)
An anti-government protester reacts as police fire tear gas during a march billed as a global "emergency call" for autonomy, in Hong Kong on November 2, 2019. (REUTERS file)

Canada grants asylum to several Hong Kong activists: Support group

According to a statement posted by the New Hong Kong Cultural Club, this makes Canada the “very first country” to accept those who claimed refugee status because of their protests against the law. This was first reported by the daily, the Globe and Mail.
By Anirudh Bhattacharyya , edited by Vinod Janardhanan
UPDATED ON JAN 14, 2021 02:58 PM IST

Several Hong Kong activists who protested the controversial security law imposed by Beijing have been granted asylum in Canada, according to a support group.

According to a statement posted by the New Hong Kong Cultural Club (NHKCC), this makes Canada the “very first country” to accept those who claimed refugee status because of their protests against the law. This was first reported by the Globe and Mail daily.

The NHKCC Canada also claimed that while 14 have been granted political refugee status, nearly another 30 had received claimant status, meaning their cases for asylum will be heard by the Immigration and Refugee Board or IRB.

News of granting such asylum came even as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government faced criticism over allowing the visit of the husband and two children of a Huawei executive who is under house arrest in Vancouver.

Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of the Chinese telecommunications firm, was arrested in December 2018, precipitating retaliation from Beijing which detained two Canadians, including a former diplomat, in what Trudeau has described was a act of “hostage diplomacy.”

Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor remain in captivity in China but it now appears that Canada may have been permitted consular access to them in return for agreeing to the visit by Meng’s husband Liu Xiaozong in October, followed by their children joining them in December last year.

Opposition MP Raquel Dancho said: “The Liberals rolled out the red carpet and granted a special travel exemption for the Huawei CFO’s family to reunite in time for the holidays. This is an insult to the millions of Canadians who were told by this government not to visit loved ones.”

Rob Oliphant, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, accepted that there was anger over the decision at granting special exemption of Meng’s family. “Do I understand Canadians’ outrage? Absolutely?” he said during a debate on the network CTV, but added this was a decision taken by officials at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

While the decision could not have been taken without the knowledge of the country’s top political leaders, given the sensitive nature of the case, multiple media outlets said the PMO has refused to comment on whether Trudeau was aware of this allowance being given to Meng’s family.

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