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HK pro-democracy movement dominates Oslo Freedom Forum in Taiwan

2019-09-14  English News
Photo courtesy of CNA
Photo courtesy of CNA
Taipei, Sept. 13 (CNA) Hong Kong singer-activist Denise Ho and Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement dominated the 2019 Oslo Freedom Forum-Taiwan on Friday, turning the gathering of international human rights advocates into a support session for Hong Kong people's fight for democracy.

The Oslo Freedom Forum (OFF) is a flagship event organized by the New York-based Human Rights Foundation (HRF) that takes place each year in Norway to promote human rights and democracy globally and support struggles against authoritarianism.

The gathering in Taipei was a satellite event of the OFF under the theme "unite."

As millions of Hong Kong people have been fighting for democracy on the streets in the past three months, Hong Kong issues became the spotlight of the forum in Taiwan, the second such gathering after its inaugural meeting in 2018.

Ho said Hong Kongers have put themselves on the front line of a battle against tyranny and she felt happy that they have been able to endure a long struggle against China's huge machinery through creativity, resilience and the use of technology.

She stressed that the "one country, two systems" formula applied to Hong Kong by China is doomed to fail under Chinese leader Xi Jinping's authoritarian regime and urged the Taiwanese people to protect their hard-earned freedom and human rights.

In the session, Ho played a music video called "Glory to Hong Kong" that was composed anonymously in support of pro-democracy protests and waved a "Lennon Wall flag" that was designed by Chinese dissident artist Badiucao as a symbol of Hong Kong people's resistance against authoritarianism.

Her passionate speech drew bursts of applause from the audience.

Meanwhile, Taiwan lawmaker Freddy Lim called on Taiwanese people to support Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement, because "speaking out for Hong Kong is tantamount to speaking out for ourselves."

Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, an education reform activist from Thailand, and Yeonmi Park, a North Korean defector, also expressed support for Hong Kong people after telling their own struggles under Thailand's military junta and North Korea's tyranny, respectively.

Pointing out the adverse effects of authoritarianism, Thor Halvorssen, chief executive officer of the HRF, said 96 percent of the world's refugees came from an authoritarian state and 25 of the 30 poorest countries in the world are ruled by an authoritarian government.

Halvorssen slammed China's authoritarian government for advancing their economy with unfair practices and using the money earned from these practices to detract from democracy.

He urged the public to speak up and pressure Beijing against committing further wrong doings.

The forum was attended by many other activists, artists, technologists and journalists, including Taiwan's Minister without Portfolio responsible for digital technology Audrey Tang, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Esther Htusan and information warfare specialist Molly McKew, among others.

Turkish NBA player Enes Canter, who was targeted by his government for criticizing his president and supporting the Gulen movement, shared his story and struggle against the Turkish government's persecutions through live streaming.