Controversial “security law”: Amnesty closes offices in Hong Kong

Status: 25.10.2021 10:29 a.m.

Amnesty International is closing its Hong Kong offices. The human rights organization justified the move with the so-called “security law” passed by China. This made the work on site impossible.

In response to the controversial Hong Kong “security law”, the human rights organization Amnesty International is withdrawing from the Chinese Special Administrative Region. Both Amnesty offices should close by the end of the year, a statement said.

“The environment of repression and constant uncertainty created by the national security law makes it impossible to know which activities could lead to criminal sanctions,” said CEO Anjhula Mya Singh Bais. The spectrum of such activities extends “from singing political songs to discussing human rights issues in the classroom”.

Unions and activist groups disbanded

Amnesty made the decision “with a heavy heart”. The recent attacks on local human rights and trade union groups showed the authorities intensified efforts to rid the city of all dissenting voices, the statement said. At least 35 groups have disbanded since the law came into force, including some of the city’s largest trade unions and activist groups.

The human rights organization has two offices in Hong Kong: a local membership office that focuses on human rights in the city and a regional office that conducts research, advocacy and campaigning and is part of Amnesty’s international secretariat. The local office is slated to close on October 31, according to the organization, while the regional office is slated to close by the end of 2021.

Crackdown on government critics

The former British colony of Hong Kong was handed over to the People’s Republic of China 24 years ago. In a legally binding treaty, China’s government had actually guaranteed the city extensive autonomy rights for 50 years. In recent years, however, the communist leadership has increasingly weakened the autonomous rights of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

The influence of China finally culminated in the enactment of the so-called security law, which came into force in July 2020. It allows the authorities to crack down on any activity that they believe threatens China’s national security. More than 150 people have so far been arrested on the basis of the “security law”, including journalists, students and former MPs.

With information from Steffen Wurzel, ARD-Studio Shanghai

Pressure from China: Amnesty International closes Hong Kong office

Steffen Wurzel, ARD Shanghai, 25.10.2021 · 09:06

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