Tuesday, 20 November, after the ruling by the High Court of Hong Kong barring Demosisto Secretary Joshua Wong from embarking on a trip to Italy and other European countries where he was due to hold parliamentary hearings and meetings, Joshua Wong was interviewed telephonically by Laura Harth for Radio Radicale.
Joshua, on Tuesday, the High Court of Hong Kong decided not to grant you authorization to travel to Europe, where you had a series of institutional appointments planned. We also invited you to Italy to testify before the Italian Parliament at the end of next week. How do you read this decision?
I am totally disappointed with the Court decision. By depriving me of my freedom of movement, the Court has imposed on me an extra punishment before I was convicted guilty. The Court decided that it is not necessary for me to be present in person at Parliamentary hearings and meetings. I think this is truly ridiculous. At the same time, the Court thinks I present a risk of seeking political asylum. I think this allegation is horrible. I have explained to the press that Hong Kong is my home, and I am not giving up on Hong Kong despite the hardship and difficulties.
Moreover, this decision comes after a refusal from the Tribunal to decide on your travel authorization on Friday, November 8. Why was the Tribunal so reluctant to decide and do you view it as linked to the decision made by Laura Aron not to allow you, as the sole candidate, to partake in the district council elections planned for November 24?
Ironically, the same judge allowed my travel to Taiwan, Germany and the US in September. But the same judge refused to grant travel two months later, citing that testimony and hearing in Rome, Brussels, London, Berlin and Paris are not important, which is a double standard. Following this Court decision, it is clear now that I am deprived of the right to the election, of the freedom of movement, the freedom of assembly, and the freedom of speech that we believe will be eroded and censored by the government as in previous experience. So, in conclusion, district political participation is guaranteed in the constitution, but now however no longer applicable to me. But, no matter what happens, I do not want to speculate on the political decision of the Court in denying my travel application. But it is clear that the judiciary is under huge pressure since the political crisis from Beijing.
In fact, after a victory at the High Court for the protesters regarding the unconstitutionality of the Face Mask Ban, Beijing legislators now issued a statement saying the Hong Kong High Court is not qualified to decide on the constitutionality of Hong Kong’s city legislation. Is this another clear violation of the “one Country, two systems” paradigm?
The Court is now under pressure following the National People’s Congress Standing Committees’ criticism of the Court’s rejection of the anti-mask law. It is crystal clear that ‘one country, two systems’ is on the brink of collapse now. Concerted efforts are necessary to help Hong Kong.
The protests in Hong Kong have been going on for six months now, with growingly violent struggles between protesters and the Hong Kong police. Where do you see the movement going in the coming weeks and what do you expect Beijing’s actions to be in the near future?
Noting that China has interefered on many things already. Beijing claims they have the ultimate authority to interpret the law, the interference has been going on since a long time. The current political crisis is also heavily influenced by China’s PLA troops, not only are they ready to be deployed; they have actually deployed soldiers with an excuse to clear the barricades in the streets. It is important to voice to the global community any attempt of China’s aggressive behavior, and use international pressure. But, I am quite disappointed to read of Italy’s Foreign Minister’s indifference in responding to the humanitarian crisis in Hong Kong. He said, while in China, “we don’t want to meddle in other people’s issues”. That is a typical ‘not in my backyard mentality’. Looking into China’s socio-economic aggression in many Belt and Road countries, I think Italy should take a more active role to recognize what is happening in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. I would like to say and emphasize that we would like to explain and continue to explain the urgent situation to the Members of the Italian Parliament and urge them to support Hong Kong. And I hope that they can show their disagreement to the statement made by Italy’s Foreign Minister who in Shanghai spoke of a position of non-interference with regards to Hong Kong, as did the Chinese ambassador. And I think, Western governments should recognize that Hong Kong people are just humbly asking and expressing our political demands. We are just asking for free elections, which is a fundamental right enjoyed by people in Italy since the last century.
We agree and yesterday, the Nonviolent Radical Party Transnational Transparty presented an urgent resolution to members of the Italian parliament in support of Hong Kong. How important is this international support for all of you in Hong Kong and what would you ask legislators in Italy to do?
Hong Kong people are asking for free elections and stopping police brutality. They are blaming and depicting us as ones asking for independence is pure tactics, as the Beijing government seeks to silence our voice. Italy should stay alert to the reliance on China’s economic interests. There is no free lunch in the world. Condemning the hard line crackdown in Hong Kong is not enough. Europe and especially Italy should reconsider their economic ties with such an authoritarian regime that never played by the rules. Beijing signed the Universal Declaration on Human Rights of the United Nations, but Beijing broke their promise for more than 48 years. And similar legislative initiatives like the US Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act or the Global Magnitsky Act should be adopted also in Italy to stop further human rights violations. The Hong Kong police vehicles and other weapons used against the people of Hong Kong should be banned from export to Hong Kong. And I hope people in Italy can stand with Hong Kong people’s fight for freedom.