Hong Kong Watch announces establishment of Memorial Lecture in honour of Lord Ashdown
Hong Kong Watch is delighted to announce the establishment of the Paddy Ashdown Memorial Lecture on Hong Kong, in honour of the former leader of the Liberal Democrats and Patron of Hong Kong Watch, Lord Ashdown, who died on 22 December 2018.
With the agreement and support of Lord Ashdown’s family, Hong Kong Watch decided to establish this annual lecture as a way of remembering Paddy Ashdown’s life-long love of Hong Kong and profound commitment to democracy, human rights, the rule of law and autonomy for Hong Kong.
The lecture will take place in the Houses of Parliament in London each year, and details of the inaugural lecture to be held later this year will be announced soon. The guest speaker invited to deliver the lecture each year will be chosen by the trustees of Hong Kong Watch. The speaker will be either a distinguished politician or activist from Hong Kong who has shown particular courage and commitment in the struggle for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and autonomy for the city; or a British or international politician or activist who has shown particular dedication in supporting the protection of ‘one country, two systems’ and Hong Kong’s way of life.
Lord Ashdown’s love for Hong Kong stemmed from three years spent there learning Mandarin Chinese from 1967-1970, when he qualified as an interpreter. He returned several times, notably in 1989 when he marched in the streets with protestors following the Tiananmen massacre, and he consistently fought for the right of abode of Hong British National Overseas (BNO) passport holders. In his final years, he spoke out vocally in support of imprisoned activists and protestors.
Benedict Rogers, co-founder and Chair of Hong Kong Watch, said: “The establishment of an annual lecture in memory of Paddy Ashdown has two purposes. Firstly, to honour and remember the extraordinary life and example of one of Britain’s most inspiring political leaders who devoted the final years of his life to redoubling his support for the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong people in his role as a founding Patron of Hong Kong Watch. And secondly, it will provide a platform for activists and politicians, whether from Hong Kong or those working in support of Hong Kong, to further shine a light on the threats to Hong Kong’s freedoms and our responsibility to defend them, a cause about which Paddy was so passionate. We believe that in providing such a platform to advocate for Hong Kong, we are building on Paddy’s legacy and honouring him in a way he would wish. We are delighted that Paddy’s family are so supportive of this idea, and we look forward to announcing details of the Inaugural Paddy Ashdown Memorial Lecture in due course.”