Hong Kong Protests

Hong Kong Protests
© 2019 AP Photo/Vincent Yu

Prior to Hong Kong’s transfer to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, people in the territory were promised that rights and freedoms would be ensured under Hong Kong and international law. Over the next two decades, people used peaceful means to press for these rights, but the Hong Kong and Beijing governments have repeatedly backtracked.  In February 2019, Hong Kong authorities proposed legal revisions allowing criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China, where due process rights are routinely violated. This prompted massive, largely peaceful protests starting in June. While authorities scrapped the revisions, they have ignored other demands, including for an investigation into excessive use of force by the police, while imposing new restrictions on expression and assembly.

Numbers Tell the Story of Hong Kong’s Human Rights

Protesters gather during a rally against the police's use of tear gas in Hong Kong, December 6, 2019. © 2019 AP Photo/Vincent Thian

The highs and lows of the Hang Seng index. Real estate prices. The cost of new cellphones. In the past, it was these sorts of numbers that some people in Hong Kong noticed.

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China: Respect Rights of Hong Kong Protesters

The Chinese government should respect the fundamental rights of Hong Kong’s people rather than target nongovernmental organizations, Human Rights Watch said today. A Chinese official threatened to impose unspecified “sanctions” against Human Rights Watch and several US-based pro-democracy organizations, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency on December 2, 2019.

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Hong Kong: Prominent Activist Barred from Elections

Hong Kong democratic activist Joshua Wong speaks to the media in Hong Kong on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. Wong announced plans to contest local elections and warns that any attempt to disqualify him will only spur more support for monthslong pro-democracy protests. © 2019 AP Photo/Kin Cheung

The Hong Kong Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC) should immediately reverse its decision to disqualify the candidacy of Joshua Wong, a prominent pro-democracy activist, for upcoming district council elections, Human Rights Watch said today. On October 29, 2019, the EAC notified Wong that his candidacy for the November 24 elections was invalid.

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Hong Kong: Police Rejecting Protest Applications

The Hong Kong police on October 18, 2019 rejected the Civil Human Rights Front’s application to march against the government’s mask ban on Sunday, October 20. Maya Wang, senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch, said:

“The Hong Kong police are increasingly rejecting protest applications, even from groups with a track record of organizing peaceful protests. People are left with the choice of either staying home and keeping their opinions to themselves, or attending an unauthorized protest and risking police violence, arrest, and imprisonment. Rather than protecting public safety, the police’s intention seems to be to dissuade people from publicly expressing their views.”

There’s a way to fix the Hong Kong crisis

Protesters react from tear gas during a demonstration on China's National Day, under Lion Rock Hill, in Wong Tai Sin, Hong Kong, China October 1, 2019.  © 2019 Reuters/Tyrone Siu

“If the police fired tear gas, I’d throw it right back,” a relative told me, as a recent protest in Hong Kong was about to start. That sentiment was startling, given that this protester is 80 years old.

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For NBA's Quandary over China, Stand with Human Rights

The NBA has long portrayed itself as standing up for human rights, whether dismissing the Los Angeles Clippers’ owner for racist statements or moving the All-Star Game from Charlotte after North Carolina took a stand against allowing transgender people to use the bathroom associated with their identity. NBA stars have taken up such varied causes as gun control, police abuse and Trump’s hateful rhetoric. The success of the league itself is a tribute to diversity and globalism. But the NBA now faces a test of its principles when access to the massive Chinese market is at issue.

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Hong Kong: Face Mask Ban Violates Assembly Rights

People protest the enactment of the anti-mask law in Hong Kong, October 4, 2019. © 2019 Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images

The Hong Kong government’s broad ban on protesters wearing face masks is a disproportionate restriction on peaceful assembly rights, Human Rights Watch said today. Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the government had invoked emergency powers “to de-escalate the situation and to end the violence.”

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China: Release Supporters of Hong Kong Protests

Chinese authorities should immediately release activists detained in China for peacefully voicing support for the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, Human Rights Watch said today. Authorities should also cease harassing activists, students, and their families for sharing protest-related information on social media, and allow mainland Chinese to participate in peaceful protests in Hong Kong.

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Hong Kong Leader’s ‘Listening Mode’ Isn’t Enough

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam yesterday spent more than two hours facing angry questions and condemnations from people at a “community dialogue session,” organized after four months of massive street protests. This effort to show she really is in “listening mode,” as she claimed yesterday in a New York Times opinion piece, is perhaps an improvement on her recent practice of ignoring popular views, but it’s not clear if such sessions will lead to any change.

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Hong Kong: Activists Apparently Arrested for Supporting Free Expression

Hong Kong authorities arrested pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow, and others today on suspicion of taking part in and inciting others to take part in an unauthorized assembly on June 21. Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, said:

“The Hong Kong activists were apparently arrested for supporting freedoms of assembly and expression – which are rights, not crimes. These are authoritarian tactics that the Chinese government has long deployed in the mainland, but they didn’t use to happen in Hong Kong. The current realities are nothing more than a spectacular failure of governance on the parts of China and Hong Kong authorities.”