“To uproot ourselves like this is definitely not easy. But things got uglier last year, the government was really driving us away,” said the businesswoman and mother of two young children who didn’t give her family name because she feared repercussions for speaking out against the Chinese government. “Everything we value – freedom of speech, fair elections, liberties – has been eroded. It’s no longer the Hong Kong we knew, it’s no longer somewhere we can call home.”

Cindy, who landed in London last week, is one of thousands of Hong Kongers fleeing their hometown since Beijing imposed a draconian national security law on the territory last summer.

Some are leaving because they fear punishment for supporting pro-democracy protests. But many others, like her, say China’s encroachment on their way of life and civil liberties has become unbearable, and they want to seek a better future for their children abroad. Most say they don’t plan to ever go back.