Amnesty International will be shutting down its offices in Hong Kong by the close of the year, the human rights group announced on Monday, citing concerns over the new national security law.
The group announced:
The local ‘section’ office will cease operations on 31 October while the regional office – which is part of Amnesty’s global International Secretariat – is due to close by the end of 2021. Regional operations will be moved to the organization’s other offices in the Asia-Pacific.
“This decision, made with a heavy heart, has been driven by Hong Kong’s national security law, which has made it effectively impossible for human rights organizations in Hong Kong to work freely and without fear of serious reprisals from the government,” said Anjhula Mya Singh Bais, chair of Amnesty’s International Board.
“Hong Kong has long been an ideal regional base for international civil society organizations, but the recent targeting of local human rights and trade union groups signals an intensification of the authorities’ campaign to rid the city of all dissenting voices. It is increasingly difficult for us to keep operating in such an unstable environment,” she added.
The group pointed to the new national security law put in place by the Chinese government as the reason for the closure. The group noted that the law “was enacted on 30 June 2020. It targets alleged acts of ‘secession’, ‘subversion of state power’, ‘terrorist activities’ and ‘collusion with foreign or external forces to endanger national security’.”
As The Daily Wire reported earlier this year, a man in Hong Kong was sentenced to nine years in prison in the first ruling under the new national security law.
During protests last year, Tong Ying-kit, a 24-year-old man, crashed a motorcycle into a group of police officers while holding a flag with the message, “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Times.”
“This overall term should sufficiently reflect the defendant’s culpability in the two offenses and the abhorrence of society, at the same time, achieving the deterrent effect required,” a group of three judges wrote in the ruling, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Tong “was sentenced to 6½ years in jail for inciting secession and eight years for terrorism, to be served partly consecutively and partly concurrently, resulting in a total of nine years’ imprisonment,” the Journal reported.
There was no jury for the trial and the judges were chosen by Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, due to the new controversial security law.
Bais recently discussed how the law has affected the region.
“The environment of repression and perpetual uncertainty created by the national security law makes it impossible to know what activities might lead to criminal sanctions. The law has repeatedly been used to target people who have upset the authorities for any number of reasons – from singing political songs to discussing human rights issues in the classroom,” she said.
“The pattern of raids, arrests and prosecutions against perceived opponents has highlighted how the vagueness of the law can be manipulated to build a case against whomsoever the authorities choose,” Bais added.
As reported by Reuters on Monday:
A Hong Kong Security Bureau spokesman said in response to a Reuters request for comment that “every person or organisation must abide by the laws of Hong Kong,” and that the security legislation “upholds human rights”.
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