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Joint Letter to President Biden on Jimmy Lai's 1000th day in Hong Kong prison


Joint Letter to President Biden on Jimmy Lai's 1000th day in Hong Kong prison
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September 25, 2023


President Joseph Biden The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

We, the undersigned international human rights groups, urge you to take immediate actions in response to the case of independent publisher Jimmy Lai, who will have been in prison in Hong Kong for 1,000 days on September 26, 2023.

Lai was wrongfully detained on December 31, 2020, on charges under the Beijing-imposed National Security Law (NSL). In addition to his current jail sentence for spurious fraud charges, Lai served a 20-month prison sentence for peacefully protesting in 2019 and 2020. After multiple delays to the start of his NSL trial, Lai’s trial is now due to begin on December 18.

Jimmy Lai is a 75-year-old husband, father, and entrepreneur who founded Apple Daily, a Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper forcibly shut by the Hong Kong government in 2021 after 500 police officers raided its offices and froze its bank accounts for supporting protests calling for greater democracy in the city and for condemning the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). As the leader of the free world, we implore you to defend the democratic way of life and press freedom in Hong Kong by urging the Hong Kong government to immediately and unconditionally release Jimmy Lai.

Since Beijing imposed the NSL in Hong Kong on June 30, 2020, it has been broadly and arbitrarily applied in arresting 264 individuals for national security crimes, including Jimmy Lai. In court cases to date, the government boasts a 100% conviction rate. The wide scope of NSL-related targeting of academics, media outlets, and civil society organizations has negatively affected millions of Hong Kongers, and the UN Human Rights Committee has recommended that the government take “concrete steps” to repeal the NSL and “in the meantime, refrain from applying it.”

To mark Jimmy Lai’s 1,000th day in prison, we urge you to call for the immediate and unconditional release for Jimmy Lai and all the political prisoners in Hong Kong, both publicly and directly in diplomatic engagements with your Chinese counterparts. It is vital that you advocate for their fair treatment and release.

We are calling on you to take the following three actions:

1) The U.S. government must hold Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee as well as Hong Kong and Chinese officials to account for the unjust imprisonment of Jimmy Lai and other political prisoners in Hong Kong.

2) The U.S. must ensure that the U.S.-sanctioned John Lee and other Hong Kong officials are not invited to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in San Francisco this November.


3) Finally, the U.S. should leverage its sanction authorities under the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, Hong Kong Autonomy Act, and Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act to issue sanctions against the Hong Kong and Chinese officials responsible for deteriorating conditions in Hong Kong. This includes the judges and prosecutors who have abused Hong Kong’s legal system to undermine the city’s freedoms.

It is time for the United States to stand up to Beijing for violating the “one country, two systems” agreement, the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984, and the very values we hold dear. China should not be allowed to unilaterally tear up an international agreement with no repercussions. It is essential for the U.S. to broaden multilateral cooperation among our allies on Hong Kong, including the United Kingdom, European Union, Japan, and Australia. The Chinese government must not have the final say.

We urge you to speak up against the unjust imprisonment of Jimmy Lai in Hong Kong to safeguard freedom from further destruction by the CCP. We are confident that your actions will make a significant impact for Jimmy Lai, other political prisoners, and the preservation of freedom in Hong Kong.

Sincerely,

Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation, on behalf of a coalition of 67 organizations.

Names of organizations in alphabetical order:


1. ARTICLE 19

2. Aus-Hong Kong Connex

3. Bay Area Friends of Tibet

4. Birmingham HongKongers

5. Blasian March

6. Bonham Tree Aid

7. Bristol Hongkongers

8. Campaign For Uyghurs

9. Cardiff Hongkonger group

10. China Against the Death Penalty

11. Chinese Human Rights Defenders

12. Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation

13. Committee to Protect Journalists

14. EXE.HKers Action

15. Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong

16. Filipino American Human Rights Alliance

17. Finnish Hongkongers

18. France Tibet

19. Freiheit für Hongkong e.V.

20. Germany Stands with Hong Kong

21. Grupo de Apoio so Tibete - Portugal

22. HKersUnited

23. Hong Kong Affairs Association of Berkeley

24. Hong Kong Aid

25. Hong Kong Community Focus CIC

26. Hong Kong Democracy Council

27. Hong Kong Forum, Los Angeles

28. Hong Kong Professional Network

29. Hong Kong Social Action Movements in Boston

30. Hong Kong Watch

31. Hong Kongers in San Diego

32. Hong Kongers in San Francisco Bay Area

33. Hongkonger in Brighton CIC

34. Hongkongers in Britain

35. HongKongers in Leeds

36. Human Rights in China

37. Humanitarian China

38. Institute For China’s Democratic Transition

39. International Tibet Network

40. Lamp of Liberty

41. McMaster Stands With Hong Kong

42. North East Hongkongers Club (UK)

43. Northern California Hong Kong Club

44. NY4HK - New Yorkers Supporting Hong Kong

45. Philly4HK

46. Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights

47. Re-Water CIC

48. Reading UK Stands with Hong Kong

49. Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

50. Salford HongKongers

51. Santa Barbara Friends of Tibet

52. Scottish Hongkongers

53. SEArious for HKG

54. Southampton HongKongers

55. Students For Hong Kong

(Students4HK)

56. Sutton Hong Kong Culture & Arts Society

57. Swedish Tibet Committee

58. The Hong Kong Scots

59. The Norwegian Tibet Committee

60. The Tibet Support Committee, Denmark

61. Tibet Action Institute

62. TX4HK - Texans Supporting Hong Kong

63. US HongKongers Club

64. Uyghur Human Rights Project

65. Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation

66. Visual Artists Guild

67. We The Hongkongers


Cc:

Hon. Secretary of State Antony Blinken

Congressional-Executive Commission on China

Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

House Committee on Foreign Affairs


For further inquiry or follow-up, please contact Frances Hui of the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation via email frances.hui@thecfhk.org.

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