Issue/What we do
The Hong Kong Special Administration Should Immediately Stop Suppression of Democracy and Human Rights, and Guarantee Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Civil Society Oraganizations[i]
Republic of Korea
August 8, 2019
The umbrellas of Hong Kong opened again.
The protests that began on 31 March 2019 demanding the withdrawal of ‘Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation Amendment Bill(Extradition Bill)’ in Hong Kong are continuing until today. The protests started with 12,000 people but have expanded to more than 1 million as of June in 2019. Though Carrie Lam, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, announced the tentative suspension of the amendment on 15 June, more people are joining the protest demanding complete withdrawal of the extradition bill and the resignation of the Chief Executive. While the Hong Kong Special Administration began a violent crackdown on the protesters, the central government of China has ‘warned’ its armed intervention. Freedom of expression and peaceful assembly of Hong Kong citizens is being seriously violated. We, 92 South Korean NGOs, are expressing our grave concerns on indiscriminate and violent crackdown on peaceful protesters in Hong Kong and express our solidarity to Hong Kong people’s persistent resistance for democracy and human rights.
The extradition amendment bill, of which the Hong Kong citizens are calling for the complete withdrawal, enables the extradition of criminals to China, Taiwan and Macau, which have not signed extradition agreement with Hong Kong. While the current extradition bill makes it mandatory to go through the deliberation of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong to extradite criminals, the amendment bill allows the court to make decisions just through a review of documents without interrogation process if the Chief Executive decides to do so. Under the situation that the involvement and pressure of China are increasing, Hong Kong people are concerned that the bill, if passed, will threaten the safety of human rights activists, journalists and NGO activists in Hong Kong and jeopardize Hong Kong’s autonomy. Given that there are not enough safeguards to protect the human rights of Hong Kong citizens, and that the Chief Executive of Hong Kong is elected by a pro-government electoral college and receive a final appointment from the Chinese government, the Hong Kong citizens’ call that the extradition amendment bill should be completely withdrawn is fair. Also, Hong Kong citizens’ protests are an expression of their strong desire for democracy and human rights. It reflects social and economic deprivation of Hong Kong people and the reality that Hong Kong’s autonomy is not guaranteed.
However, the Hong Kong Special Administration is pushing ahead with a harsh crackdown and indiscriminate arrests, labeling the protests as illegal. Police fired rubber bullets and “straight tear gas” at the protesters, leaving dozens of injured and arresting about 500 people so far since last June. The administration even indicted 44 participants of the protest which was held on 28 July, on a charge of rioting. The excessive response of the police is a clear violation of <the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials>, freedom of peaceful assembly and association as specified in ‘the Basic Law’, which is the constitution of Hong Kong, as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In addition, on 29 July, the central government of China also labeled Hong Kong protests as ‘violent’ and ‘illegal’, strongly criticizing the protesters for “any act that harms the sovereignty and security of the country is unacceptable,” and even forewarned the possibility of deploying the People’s Liberation Army. The actual armed intervention of China would result in unpredictable incidents, and it could be recorded as another history of oppression on democracy. It should never happen.
Despite the harsh crackdown of the Hong Kong Administration and the ‘warning’ of China, the resistance of Hong Kong citizens is spreading to all levels of society. On 5 August, half a million people participated in a general strike, and simultaneous protests continued late into the night. We fully support the desire of Hong Kong citizens to protect democracy and human rights, and stress that freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly and association should be guaranteed under any circumstances. In addition, we urge the Hong Kong government to stop the indiscriminate arrests of protesters and withdraw the indictment. We stand in solidarity with Hong Kong citizens’ peaceful and persistent resistance for democracy and human rights.
[i] This statement is endorsed by 92 South Korean NGOs: 416JakartaCandlelights; 80 million’s movement for one korea; Activists group for Human Rights ‘BARAM’; Asan YMCA; Asian Dignity Initiative; Bucheon YMCA; Buddhist Human Rights Committee; Catholic Human Rights Committee; Catholic Justice Implementation National Union; CHANG: Korea Human Rights Research Center; Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice; Citizens Opening the World for Welfare; Civil Society Organizations Network in Korea; Committee to Support Imprisoned Workers; Daegu Women’s Association; Dasan Human Rights Center; Disability and Human Rights in Action; Friends of Asia; Goyang YMCA; Gwang-Ju Human Rights Center Hwal JJak; Human Rights Education Center ‘Deul’; Human Rights Education Onda; Human Rights Movement Space ‘Hwal’; Imagination for International Solidarity; Incheon Human Rights Film Festival; International Conference for Peace in East Asia; Jeju Dark Tours; Jeju Peace Human rights Center; Jeju peace human rights institute WHAT; Jeonju YMCA;Jeonnam Maeul Network; Jesuit Research Center for Advocacy and Solidarity; Jungnang hope solidarity; KFEM Dangjin; Korea Federation for Environmental Movements; Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center; Korea Women’s Hot Line; Korea YMCA; Korean Coalition for Abolishment of Insecurity Employment; Korean Confederation of Trade Unions; Korean Federation for Environmental Movement of Yesan Hongseong (KFEM Yesan Hongseong); Korean Gay Men’s Human Rights Group ‘Chingusai’; Korean House for International Solidarity; Korean New Zealanders for a Better future; Korean People’s Solidarity Against Poverty; Korean Progressive Network ‘Jinbonet’; Korean Women Workers Association; Korean Women’s Association United; Kyunggi Women’s Associations United; Life & Safety Network; Migrants center FRIENDS; MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society International Solidarity Committee; Namum Munhwa; National Solidarity against Sexual Exploitation of Women; National YWCA of KOREA; OFM; Paju YMCA; Palestine Peace & Solidarity in South Korea; PEACEMOMO; People & Commune; People’s Initiative for Development Alternatives; People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy; PINKS: SOLIDARITY FOR SEXUAL MINORITY CULTURES & HUMAN RIGHTS; Pohang Women’s association; QUV; Solidarity of University and Youth Queer Societies in Korea; Rainbow Action Against Sexual-Minority Discrimination; RAVE; Restorative Justice Korea; Sarangbang Group for Human Rights; Seosan-Taean Federation for Environmental Movements; Seoul Human Rights Film Festival; Society of international solidarity in Justice party; Solidarity against Disability Discrimination; Solidarity for Another World; Solidarity for LGBT Human Rights of Korea; Solidarity for Worker’s Health; Study Group for East Asia Social Movement; Supporters for the Health And Rights of People in the Semiconductor industry; Suwon Women’s Association; The April 9 Unification & Peace Foundation; The Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice; The Korean Catholic Women’s Community for a New World; The National Council of Churches in Korea Human Rights Center; The National Council of Churches in Korea International Committee; Women Making Peace; Women with Disabilities Empathy; Womenlink; Won Buddhism Human Rights Committee; Yeosu YMCA; Youth -lrights Center.