HONG KONG: Immediately release four pro-democracy activists

Press release
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Geneva-Hong Kong-Paris, August 30, 2019 - Hong Kong authorities must immediately and unconditionally release four pro-democracy activists and cease all acts of harassment against all human rights defenders in the Special Administrative Region (SAR), the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (an FIDH-OMCT partnership) and Human Rights in China (HRIC) urged today.

“Unwilling to address the legitimate grievances of large segments of Hong Kong’s society, the authorities have now escalated the repression of dissent by arresting prominent pro-democracy activists. These arrests are likely to exacerbate tensions and show the Hong Kong government’s lack of sincerity in its calls for dialogue with protesters.”

Adilur Rahman Khan, FIDH Vice-President

In the night of August 29, 2019, authorities arrested Mr. Andy Chan, the leader of the banned pro-independence Hong Kong National Party, at Hong Kong International Airport while he was trying to board a flight to Japan. Police said Mr. Chan was arrested for allegedly rioting and assaulting a police officer during a demonstration on July 13, 2019.

On the morning of August 30, 2019, police arrested Mr. Joshua Wong, pro-democracy activist and Secretary-General of the political party Demosisto, while he was on his way to the South Horizons metro station. Mr. Wong was taken into custody at the Wan Chai police headquarters and detained for allegedly inciting, organising, and participating in a protest at Wan Chai police headquarters on June 21, 2019. Mr. Wong had been released from prison on June 17, 2019, after serving a two-month prison sentence in connection with his participation in the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement.

Also on the morning of August 30, 2019, authorities arrested Ms. Agnes Chow, Demosisto member and pro-democracy activist, at her home in Tai Po. Ms. Chow was arrested in connection with the above-mentioned protest at Wan Chai police headquarters on June 21, 2019.

On the afternoon of August 30, 2019, police arrested Ms. Althea Suen, a former president of the University of Hong Kong’s student union, after she turned herself in at the Wan Chai police headquarters, accompanied by her lawyer. Police sought to arrest Ms. Suen at her home the previous night but she was not at home at the time. Ms. Suen was arrested in relation to the storming of the Legislative Council (LegCo) building during a demonstration on July 1, 2019.

“We condemn the seemingly coordinated arrest of four prominent pro-democracy figures, which is a blatant attempt to silence and intimidate human rights defenders in Hong Kong. Authorities must immediately release them and refrain from undertaking similar acts against all individuals who conduct peaceful and legitimate human rights activities.”

Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General

“The targeted arrest of key activists on the eve of a crucial demonstration planned for August 31 highlights what Carrie Lam means by rule of law - that is, use of the criminal process as a weapon to intimidate, chill, and punish Hong Kong citizens exercising their fundamental rights. The international community must condemn this trend of politicised detentions and arrests in violation of the international obligations of the Hong Kong government"

Sharon Hom, HRIC Executive Director

Sustained, large-scale, and predominantly peaceful protests have been held in Hong Kong since 12 June 2019. Demonstrators initially called for the withdrawal of a proposed extradition bill that was inconsistent with international human rights standards. After the excessive use of force by police during the June 12 protest and the refusal by Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam to formally withdraw the extradition bill, protesters have continued to stage demonstration at various locations across the SAR. In addition to the full withdrawal of the extradition bill, demonstrators have also called for: 1) an amnesty for all arrested protesters; 2) the withdrawal of the charges of “rioting” against protesters; 3) the launch of independent investigation into all allegations of excessive use of force by police against protesters; and 4) universal suffrage.

For more information, please contact:
• FIDH: +33 1 43 55 25 18
• OMCT: Iolanda Jaquemet +41 79 539 41 06 / Email: ij@omct.org; Delphine Reculeau: +41 22 809 49 39 / Email: dr@omct.org

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