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STATEMENT: Hong Kong Government Tries Satire With Claim it Respects Human Rights

Updated: Mar 12

March 11 2024 – Facing continuing international opposition to Hong Kong’s intensifying political crackdown, the government is turning to humour, promising that sweeping new national security legislation will “respect and protect human rights.” With hundreds of political prisoners locked in Hong Kong jails and many of the city’s activists enduring political show trials, Hong Kong continues to plummet in global freedom indexes. Meanwhile, Hong Kong authorities continue to lash out at real and imagined opponents at home and abroad.  

Hong Kong Police use tear gas against protestors in September 2019, Image Credit: Studio Incendo

Responding to the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong (CFHK) Foundation’s call for the U.S. to issue new sanctions on Hong Kong officials responsible for pushing through the so-called Article 23 national security legislation, Hong Kong authorities issued a retaliatory statement labelling the CFHK Foundation as an “anti-China group.” The government, using the claim that its national security laws apply globally, warned that CFHK Foundation staff could be prosecuted, accusing us of “collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security” under National Security Law Article 29.

Hong Kong officials rightly fear their plans to cement Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rule over the city are denting its global reputation and economic prospects. The Hong Kong government understands that it lacks public support. After all, this is a city where two million people, more than one-quarter of the population, repeatedly marched in anti-government protests in 2019. Thus the quick four-week public consultation period on the controversial bill and the attempt to pass it at lightning speed. 

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee cut short a trip to Beijing to push through the Article 23 bill. The legislation will further isolate Hong Kong. “China has crushed what had been one of its greatest assets,” notes the Washington Post. That has happened under Lee, a hard-line ex-deputy police commissioner who seems to have a penchant for drawing attention to himself.

Mark Clifford, President of the CFHK Foundation said: "We condemn the Hong Kong government’s ongoing violation of the territory’s international obligations under the Sino-British Declaration, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as its promises to the people of Hong Kong under the Basic Law.

"The CFHK Foundation reiterates its call for the U.S. and other free nations to respond to the passage of Article 23 legislation by issuing sanctions against complicit officials and immediately revoking the privileges and immunities provided to Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices," he went on.

The power-hungry regimes in Hong Kong and China are not qualified to define who is “anti-China.” Hundreds of political prisoners in Hong Kong jails have given up their liberty because they love Hong Kong and China too much and because they believe in free speech, free assembly and the other liberties of an open society.

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