British-based advocacy group Friends of Hong Kong revealed that besides student activist Tony Chung, four others including one American citizen approached the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong for political asylum on Tuesday.
Chung was arrested outside the consulate on Tuesday. The 19-year-old was charged in court with secession and denied bail on Thursday morning.
Friends of Hong Kong, which has assisted Chung in his asylum bid, criticized the U.S. Consulate for turning the young activists away. Wary of losing freedom, the five hoped to obtain political protection from the U.S. through alternative means.
While acknowledging it is rare for the U.S. to grant political protection to Chinese activists, the group argued that Chung has long been a high-profile activist. It cited Fang Lizhi, a Chinese dissident who succeeded in requesting protection from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing after the June 4th Tiananmen Square massacre.
Chung was among the first political figures arrested under the national security law, even though he had disbanded the pro-independence group Studentlocalism before the new legislation took effect. He also had his DNA sample taken during police custody in July.
Among the five was a 20-year-old American citizen, who spoke to Voice of America under the alias Wong. He claimed that five activists entered the consulate on Tuesday but were told they would not be offered any protection. They departed after leaving their contact details.
Wong was born in San Jose in California and raised in Hong Kong. Both of his parents are Hong Kong citizens. Supposedly a third-year student at the Hang Seng University of Hong Kong, he was charged with protest-related crimes and was expected to stand trial on Tuesday.
Wong said the group has been tailed by national security officers. After Chung was apprehended in the morning, they were only able to enter the consulate at 5 p.m. the same day.
He sought help as an American citizen, but was told by the consulate staff that they could not offer any help in terms of protection. The activists are now living in a safe house.
Wong fears for his personal safety, but dares not reveal too much to his family in worries that they would be harassed by the authorities. “Hong Kong is my home. So in the protests, I tried to defend my home,” said the 20-year-old.
According to Friends of Hong Kong, the consulate was aware that the five would be approaching on Tuesday. The group urged the Hong Kong government and international community to listen to the voices of young people like Chung. It also vowed to continue its assistance to Hong Kong protesters.
Apple Daily has sought comment from the U.S. consulate, but has not yet received a response.
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