Fourteen Hongkongers have received political asylum from Canada, according to a group advocating for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement in the country.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the New Hong Kong Cultural Club said that – since 2019 – it has helped over 40 protesters in self-imposed exile in Canada.
Close to 30 of them have received claimant status, meaning that their asylum applications are pending approval. “There are 14 of them who have successfully been granted as Canadian political refugees and will be able to apply for permanent [residency] right away,” the statement read.
According to annual statistics published by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, it received 12 asylum application referrals from individuals seeking protection from alleged persecution in Hong Kong in 2019, but the figure rose to 25 between January and June 2020. The country had previously granted asylum to two claimants from Hong Kong in 2013.
Some of the individuals the Cultural Club has assisted have found jobs or are pursuing studies, the group said. It estimated the number of people fleeing to Canada would have been higher, had the country not closed its borders to visitors since last April because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Canadian government is also due to announce its “Young Talent Scheme” in the coming months, which will come as “a lifeboat for the fleeing young Hongkongers,” the group said.
HKFP has reached out to the New Hong Kong Cultural Club and the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada for comment.