7.02.2020
We Condemn China’s Crackdown on Civic Space in Hong Kong

(July 2, 2020, Washington D.C.) - Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights strongly condemns the draconian national security law imposed by China to crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and those who express dissent against the Chinese government and Communist Party. The law severely curtails civic space in Hong Kong, and strips the people of their rights to freedom of expression, of assembly, and of association, and the right to a fair trial. It threatens life imprisonment for new, vaguely defined offenses such as “subversion of state power” and “foreign collusion” and the possibility of extradition to mainland China, prolonged arbitrary detention, and secret trials without a jury. 

“Yesterday, the people of Hong Kong saw the immediate and wholesale erosion of their fundamental human rights by the Chinese government, and the world saw the beginning of its brutal implementation, with a 15-year-old girl waving an independence flag among those arrested,” said Kerry Kennedy, President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “We are especially concerned by the devastating impact this law will have on human rights defenders, journalists, civil society organizations, opposition members, and others who advocate for the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong.” 

In the hours since its implementation, residents of Hong Kong have deleted their social media accounts out of fear, activists have stepped down from organizations that may be considered “subversive” under the law, several opposition political parties have disbanded, and for the first time in 23 years, protesters were denied permission to gather to mark the anniversary of the handover to Chinese rule. As the law also grants China unprecedented powers to interfere in Hong Kong, surveil residents, and prosecute foreigners who have criticized the government, it erases the protections for civic space in the city and represents the end of the autonomy Hong Kong had enjoyed for the past 23 years since the handover from British rule.  

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights joins the calls by several United Nations independent human rights experts and civil society organizations to the UN Human Rights Council and its member States to take decisive actions toward China’s human rights practices, including through the establishment of an independent mechanism to closely monitor the human rights situation in Hong Kong and other regions.