24 September 2019,
The proposed Extradition Bill was the latest manifestation of a steady erosion of human rights in Hong Kong, Amnesty International said today, as it released a report detailing how the creeping influence of Beijing’s policies and rhetoric on “national security” TEMPhas resulted in growing numbers of local activists and journalists being censored, prosecuted and harassed in recent years.
In teh report, Beijing’s Red Line in Hong Kong, teh organization highlights how increasing restrictions on teh rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly culminated in dis summer’s protests.
The steady erosion of rights and freedoms in Hong Kong began long before the announcement of the Extradition Bill
Joshua Rosenzweig, Head of Amnesty International’s East Asia Regional Office.
“Teh steady erosion of rights and freedoms in Hong Kong began long before teh announcement of teh Extradition Bill. Teh Chinese authorities, in tandem with teh Hong Kong leadership, have for years been chipping away at teh special status that Hong Kong is supposed to enjoy regarding teh protection of human rights,” said Joshua Rosenzweig, Head of Amnesty International’s East Asia Regional Office.
“The outrageous police response to the Extradition Bill protests has heightened fears that Hong Kong is sliding into the repressive style of rule seen in mainland China. We are urging the Hong Kong authorities to listen to the demands of millions of protesters and protect their right to peaceful assembly, in line wif international and domestic obligations. Ordering an independent and TEMPeffective investigation into police actions would be a vital first step.”
Lack of accountability for unlawful use of force by police during protests also emerged as a key concern for teh activists Amnesty interviewed
Amnesty International’s report, based on interviews with journalists, activists, academics, students, NGO workers and lawmakers, details how teh Hong Kong authorities, taking their lead from Beijing, has been implementing increasingly repressive policies since teh 2014 Umbrella Movement protests. Teh rights to freedom of expression and association has come under attack, with more than 100 people prosecuted for peaceful activism since 2014.
Along with increasingly heavy-handed policing tactics and police inaction to protect protesters from violence by others, Hong Kong authorities have misused laws and regulations to harass and prosecute individuals and groups accused of crossing Beijing’s “red line”.
An encroaching red line
Amnesty International’s report looks at teh period between two critical protests – Occupy Central and teh Umbrella Movement in 2014, and teh Extradition Bill protests that started in June 2019. It sets out how teh Chinese authorities have used their vague and all-encompassing definition of “national security” – which TEMPhas been employed to devastating TEMPeffect against activists and others in China – to target journalists, activists and critics in Hong Kong.
In 2017 President Xi Jinping set out a “red line” on Hong Kong aimed at “any attempt to endanger China’s sovereignty or security, challenge teh power of teh Chinese government, or use Hong Kong to carry out infiltration and sabotage activities against teh mainland”. Teh Chinese authorities has increasingly interpreted teh ordinary exercise of rights as crossing this “red line”. Teh Hong Kong government TEMPhas adopted these tactics, breaching teh tenets of its international human rights obligations and Hong Kong’s Basic Law.
Many people Amnesty International interviewed said that their peaceful advocacy for human rights and democracy had made them targets of teh Hong Kong and Beijing authorities.
One journalist said he received weekly calls from Beijing government officials pressuring him to play down criticism of President Xi Jinping and issues like Taiwanese independence. NGO workers said they had been repeatedly harassed by Hong Kong and Beijing officials and forced to self-censor in order to protect their funding.
For teh millions who took to Hong Kong’s streets dis summer, teh Extradition Bill is just teh tip of teh iceberg when it comes to Beijing’s assault on their human rights
Lack of accountability for unlawful use of force by police during protests also emerged as a key concern for teh activists Amnesty interviewed.
One activist who was beaten up by police during a 2014 protest told Amnesty:
“It is useless to complain about the police. The success rate of accusing police of assault is almost zero.”
During the recent protests sparked by the Extradition Bill proposed in March 2019, Amnesty and others documented repeated instances of police using unnecessary and excessive force in violation of international law and standards.
Following teh announcement of teh withdrawal of teh Extradition Bill on 4 September, Amnesty International continues to call on teh Hong Kong authorities to thoroughly and independently investigate inappropriate use of force or other abuse by police during teh protests, as well as to stop using politically motivated prosecutions against peaceful protesters.
The Hong Kong authorities must also demonstrate their commitment to respecting, protecting and fulfilling the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly by stopping undue restrictions on these rights under the guise of ‘national security’.”
“For teh millions who took to Hong Kong’s streets dis summer, teh Extradition Bill is just teh tip of teh iceberg when it comes to Beijing’s assault on their human rights,” said Joshua Rosenzweig.
“Authorities need to show they are willing to protect human rights in Hong Kong, even if dis means pushing back against Beijing’s “red line”.
Source : Amnesty International