Amnesty leaves Hong Kong: no wonder


Status: 25.10.2021 2:19 p.m.

The human rights organization Amnesty International is leaving Hong Kong. No wonder: Anyone who is politically active in China’s Special Administrative Region must fear repression and imprisonment.

A comment by Steffen Wurzel, ARD-Studio Shanghai

No one in Hong Kong was seriously surprised that Amnesty International was pulling out of the city. The fact that the human rights organization is leaving the Special Administrative Region fits into the picture: In the past year and a half, China’s state and party leadership has increased the pressure on Hong Kong’s civil society to such an extent that “business as usual” is simply out of the question.

Working for freedom of expression has become impossible

In the former British colony, openly campaigning for something that was previously taken for granted there – freedom of expression and the press, for example, the right to demonstrate or the rule of law – has not been possible since July last year at the latest. Since then, China’s so-called National Security Protection Act has been in force in Hong Kong. State and party leader Xi Jinping has imposed this law from above on the city, which is actually governed by autonomy.

Since then, it has ensured in Hong Kong that potentially anything can be criminalized that could even begin to endanger the dictatorship of the Communist Party. The Chinese Communist Party has consistently used the law to wind down large parts of Hong Kong’s civil society.

No more open discourse

The previous political opposition in parliament and in the municipal councils of the Special Administrative Region was de facto eliminated. Free trade unions and associations, which commemorated the many crimes in the 72-year history of the People’s Republic, had to disband. Public commemoration of the crackdown on the Chinese democracy movement of 1989 is now also forbidden in Hong Kong.

Professors have been fired at universities, and open discourse at schools and universities is no longer possible. Textbooks were exchanged, critical art dismantled. Countless Hong Kong people who have campaigned for democracy, the rule of law and human rights in the city in recent years have left their homes and are living in exile. Many more are in jail.

China doesn’t care about the Basic Law

All of this despite the fact that Hong Kong has freedom of expression and the rule of law on paper. But China’s communist leadership does not care what is in the constitution of the city that is actually governed by autonomy. Even the binding international treaty that Great Britain negotiated with China before the transfer of the former colony in 1997 is no longer worth anything from the point of view of those in power in Beijing.

So it’s no wonder that Amnesty International, the world’s most prominent human rights organization, has to withdraw from Hong Kong. In the city, which used to be so proud of its independence and its civil liberties, no one who is politically active is safe from persecution, repression and prison.

Editorial note

Comments generally reflect the opinion of the respective author and not that of the editors.

Comment: Amnesty leaves Hong Kong – signs of the end of autonomy

Steffen Wurzel, ARD Shanghai, 25.10.2021 · 13:26

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