The well-known pro-democracy activist from Hong Kong Agnes Chow announced yesterday that he had left the territory to study in Canada and that he had no intention of returning to his country, two years after his release from prison, where he served a sentence for participating in organizing protests pro-democracy in 2019. In an Instagram post, the 27-year-old said she was taken to mainland China by the Hong Kong National Security Police and was asked to write letters of gratitude to the authorities in exchange for the return of her confiscated passport at the time of her arrest in 2020. In China, the activist was also reportedly taken to visit patriotic exhibitions and the headquarters of Chinese technology giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. The activist began her studies in Toronto last September. Based on an agreement previously signed with the police, Chow she was supposed to return to Hong Kong this month, but decided to stay in Canada for fear of being arrested again.
“I no longer want to be forced to do what I don't want to do, and I don't want to be forced to return to mainland China,” she wrote. “At this rate, even if I am safe, my body and mind will collapse.” Chow added that she will probably never go back to ad Hong Kong. The Hong Kong government today condemned Chow's decision in a statement, calling his behavior "irresponsible". “The police urge (Chow) to take a step back from the abyss,” says the statement, which also urges the activist “not to take a path of no return and bear the name of 'fugitive' for the rest of her life.” Chow was convicted along with fellow activists Joshua Wong and Ivan Lam for their involvement in the pro-democracy protest on June 21, 2019, in which young demonstrators besieged the city's police headquarters. Previously, Chow had been one of the very young leaders of the 2014 Umbrella Movement, which called for democratic change in the former British colony. Between 2019 and 2020, along with Wong and other members of the advocacy group Demosisto, she worked to draw international attention to the city's pro-democracy movement.