The son of jailed Hong Kong civil rights activist Jimmy Lai will receive an honorary degree this weekend on behalf of his father at the Catholic University of America.
The 74-year-old media executive, who has been arrested several times during pro-democracy protests against the Chinese Communist Party, has been imprisoned since April 2021 under a new national security law accusing him of “colluding with foreign powers” .
His son, Sebastien Lai, said his father knew he would accept the award on his behalf Saturday morning at the ceremony in Washington, D.C.
“My dad had confidence in his friends and knew that people were asking for help. Dad called to stay and he was calm about the decision, but that doesn’t mean he accepts the lack of justice,” Sebastian Rai told Washington Times.
The decision to pay tribute to Jimmy Lai, whose Apple Daily was raided and shut down by Chinese officials last year, comes as state security forces detained Hong Kong’s retired Catholic archbishop, Cardinal Joseph Zen, this week.
Jimmy Lai’s close ally Cardinal Chen baptized him in 1997 during protests against China’s recent crackdown on free speech in the former British colony, a university press release said.