By jailing fearless Hong Kong pro-democracy campaigner Jimmy Lai (above) on charges of breaking its new national security law, the Communist Party of China intends to reinforce the new limits to the rule of law, dissent, and autonomy in the city, notes Oxford University Chancellor Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong. But imprisonment often ennobles fighters for democracy and bolsters support for their cause, he writes for Project Syndicate:
For the apparent crimes of principle and courage, and his refusal to surrender his beliefs, Lai has been targeted by a vengeful CPC with the collaboration of a few Hong Kong lickspittles whose reputations will forever be tarred by shame and infamy. But imprisonment often ennobles fighters for democracy and bolsters support for their cause: think of Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, or Václav Havel. And now think of Jimmy Lai, my man of the year.
The real reason for his incarceration, of course, is that keeping Mr. Lai in prison stifles his ongoing challenge to repression, adds George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington, D.C.’s Ethics and Public Policy Center and a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the Washington-based democracy assistance group.
In numerous interviews, Jimmy Lai has emphasized that his Catholic faith undergirds and sustains his commitment to human rights for all, even as the Xi Jinping regime tries to ruin his business and threatens his life. Has Jimmy Lai been encouraged by a public word of protest from the Vatican against his persecution since he became a prime target of China’s overlords? No, he writes for the journal First Things.
— Democracy Digest (@demdigest) December 17, 2020