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"I am not allowed to end the year quietly and peacefully"

For me it was the first peaceful Christmas in three years.

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"I am not allowed to end the year quietly and peacefully"

For me it was the first peaceful Christmas in three years. This time there was no bad news, no one I knew was arrested and I had a few days off. It felt unreal. I was prepared for terrible things to happen, like last year and the year before.

The peace should not last long. On December 27, the 38th session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress began in Beijing. A number of motions were considered at this meeting. Among them was a request from the Hong Kong SAR government to interpret the national security law.

The Hong Kong government wants to prevent Jimmy Lai - a Hong Kong media entrepreneur and founder of the now defunct democratic tabloid "Apple Daily" - from being represented in court by British lawyer Tim Owen.

The Hong Kong government had delayed and ultimately rejected Owen's application for an extension of his work visa. Jimmy Lai has been in prison since December 2020 on charges of violating the National Security Law. Now the Hong Kong government has asked Beijing's highest legislative body to clarify the extent to which foreign lawyers can be involved in cases related to the national security law. The latest action massively undermines Hong Kong's legal independence and affects the country's autonomy even more than it already does.

The case of Jimmy Lai is a clear example of how the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary have been eroded in Hong Kong since the passage of the National Security Law. So I'm not allowed to end the year quietly and peacefully. It is with a heavy heart that I write these lines, and I am terrified of what the interpretation means for my friends' negotiations and what lies ahead in the year ahead. I would like foreign governments to at least follow the progress of cases, send representatives into courtrooms, and show political prisoners that the world has not forgotten them.

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