Hong Kong police question family of Elmer Yuen amid plan for parliament-in-exile

Yuen's ex-wife, son and daughter are taken in for questioning by national security police, reports say.
By Amelia Loi for RFA Mandarin and Simon Lee for RFA Cantonese
Hong Kong police question family of Elmer Yuen amid plan for parliament-in-exile Democracy activist Elmer Yuen holds a news conference on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023, in London to campaign for a Hong Kong parliament-in-exile to be returned by democratic votes of Hong Kongers around the world. Credit: Stone
Photo: RFA

Hong Kong police on Thursday took the family members of U.S.-based businessman and democracy activist Elmer Yuen for questioning, in the latest in a series of moves targeting the relatives of eight prominent overseas activists wanted under a draconian national security law, local media reported.

Police took away Yuen's ex-wife Yuen Stephanie Downs and their daughter Yuen Mi-shu and son Yuen Mi-man, the Ming Pao newspaper reported, while government broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong cited police sources as saying Yuen's ex-wife, son and daughter had been hauled in for questioning.

"According to sources, officers were seeking information on whether they remained in touch with Yuen or have any financial dealings with him," RTHK reported.

The raids came after police raided the homes of three other Yuen family members on July 24, taking them away for questioning on suspicion of "assisting fugitives in continuing to engage in acts that endanger national security."

Police have also launched similar actions against the family members of two other exiled pro-democracy activists who, like Yuen, are on a wanted list of eight prominent overseas activists with bounties on their heads.

Thursday's move came two days after Yuen held a news conference in London to campaign for a Hong Kong parliament-in-exile to be returned by democratic votes of Hong Kongers around the world.

Speaking in London on Tuesday, Yuen said he wouldn't be deterred by the police action against his relatives.

"Freedom for Hong Kong is more important than my personal wealth, freedom, or the freedom and safety of my family," he said. "I would say that the future of Hong Kong is more important than me and my family." 

"I know I am taking risks, but there is a price to be paid, and that is a price that we should be paying," he said.

In August 2022 Yuen told Radio Free Asia that China's state security police had tried to get him to shelve the parliament plan, warning that his activism could bring down repercussions on his family.

Appeal to exiles

But Yuen said he expects around one million voters to turn out in worldwide online elections for the parliament, which he hopes will choose among 50-100 candidates to form the first Hong Kong Parliament in exile.

He said it's time for the people of Hong Kong, many of whom have left the city amid an ongoing crackdown on dissent, to stand up and take responsibility for their own fate.

"We used to leave it all up to the British, and let them handle everything as long as we could do business, and we would pay our taxes," he said. 

"Then it was handed over to the Chinese Communist Party to implement the Basic Law [intended to protect the city's rights and freedoms] while we just sat back and watched," he said. "That was a very problematic approach."

"Now, we're going to set up our own parliament in a way that suits us, and we will be our own masters," Yuen said, adding that the parliament would likely be physically located in London, but carry out its business in online meetings.

Yuen cited Ukraine's response to the Russian invasion as an example of taking responsibility for one's own fate while still campaigning for help from the international community.

Simon Cheng, who founded the group Hongkongers in Britain, said he believes the parliamentary process would be the best way to engage Hong Kongers around the world.

"Democratic voting is the best way to connect with Hong Kong people, because this is a core part of Hong Kong people's identity," he said.

Cheng said the parliament would give the people of Hong Kong an international voice, and a platform from which to respond to the actions of the Hong Kong government.

A preparatory committee is currently in the process of consulting with Hong Kongers around the world on how best to run the parliament and its electoral system, with an election committee due to be formed later this month, according to the news conference.

Translated by Luisetta Mudie.


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