The Freedom Lecture: Nathan Law on Hong Kong

On the fight for democracy

Sophie Rutenfrans
Nathan Law, activist, former student leader and politician from Hong Kong will hold the 34th Freedom Lecture. He was one of the student leaders during the 79-day umbrella movement. After the protests, Law ended up in jail for several months. In 2020, Law left for London and began his self-exile. Since then, he speaks to governments around the world to get support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement and to raise awareness for the protection of freedom and democracy around the world.

Nathan Law analyzes the way in which freedom is more and more restricted in Hong Kong, and how those tactics aren’t bound to national borders. Democracy, human rights and freedom (of press) are under pressure more and more around the world. Authoritarian regimes are gradually taking power. Step by step, fundamental rights and civil liberties are shortened.

About the Speaker
Recently, Law published the book The Struggle for Freedom with Evan Fowler. Their message: beware of authoritarian regimes that take power by stealth. Subtly, institutions of the democratic rule of law are undermined and dismantled. With strict laws, citizens are cunningly silenced and, above all, made to fear the government. Time Magazine included him in the list of 100 most influential people of that year, and he was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Freedom Lecture
Freedom is something that we in the Netherlands often take for granted. Four times a year, De Balie invites someone who knows from personal experience what it means not to be free. We want to share their stories, spread their message, and learn from their struggle. In the series, De Balie has welcomed freedom fighters like Egyptian writer and activist Nawal el Saadawi, Ugandan LGBT activist Frank Mugisha, and Hungarian journalist Veronika Munk.

The Freedom Lecture is made possible by Stichting Democratie en Media en vfonds.

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Nathan Law
Nathan LawActivist & politician
Ties DamsResearch Fellow at the Clingendael Institute. His research focuses on China’s geopolitical strategy and European responses to it.
Thijs ReutenMEP for the Dutch PvdA in the S&D Group since April 2021. He served for eight years as district alderman in Amsterdam and worked as political advisor to Frans Timmermans during his mandate as Minister for European Affairs. Currently he is member of the Foreign affairs and Civil Liberties committees of the European Parliament.