Jimmy Lai’s courage in the wake of Navalny’s murder deserves even greater admiration

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assassination of Alexei Navalny is a stark reminder of the extremes dictators will go to in order to silence those who bravely oppose tyranny.

In China, publisher Jimmy Lai serves as a beacon of hope and courage against oppression.

Having known Jimmy since 1993 when I first interviewed him as a journalist, I have witnessed his foresight, valor, and integrity over the past three decades.

Despite being imprisoned for 1,155 days, mostly in solitary confinement, Lai lives as a free man, embodying the spirit of his friend Natan Sharansky who endured nine years in a Soviet prison.

Even in captivity, Lai finds freedom in activities such as prayer, reading, painting, and meditation, maintaining a sense of inner freedom.

He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Sen. Jeff Merkley and Rep. Chris Smith, bridging political divides to recognize his commitment to human rights.

Though facing serious charges in Hong Kong that could result in a life sentence, Lai’s advocacy for freedom and democracy through his newspaper Apple Daily demonstrates his unwavering dedication to these ideals.

Despite the challenges he faces, Lai’s trial has revealed no evidence of wrongdoing beyond his journalistic pursuits advocating for democratic values and opposing oppressive measures imposed by the Chinese government.

Lai’s quest for democracy and resistance against Chinese interference has seen him reach out to global leaders for support, a testament to his belief in Hong Kong’s autonomy and preservation of civil liberties.

Since Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, Hong Kong has faced escalating repression, leading to the crackdown on dissent and the erosion of freedoms once promised under Chinese rule.

Despite the challenges he faces, Lai remains an inspiring figure for those fighting for democracy not only in Hong Kong and China but around the world.

Mark L. Clifford is the president of the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation and a former director of Next Digital, publisher of Apple Daily.

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