U.S. Condemns China’s Attempts To Silence Hong Kong Protestors
The U.S. has condemned the sentencing of protesters in Hong Kong, which it says was a violation of their rights under international agreements and an indefensible attempt to silence dissent by the Chinese government.
Last week, Chinese authorities sentenced seven protesters in Hong Kong: Martin Lee, Jimmy Lai, Albert Ho, Margaret Ng, Cyd Ho, Lee Cheuk-yan, and Leung Kwok-hung. The protestors were elderly, with the oldest being 82, and they were former lawmakers, lawyers, and other advocates for self-rule in Hong Kong.
They had joined in two protests in August of 2019. The U.S. Department of State says that 1.7 million people participated in the rallies.
More than ten-thousand people have been arrested for protests in favor of democratic reform in Hong Kong, most of whom have not yet been sentenced, as NPR has reported.
Two other protestors, Joshua Wong and Sze-yiu Koo, were sentenced on April 13th.
The most famous arrest was septuagenarian media mogul Jimmy Lai, who is facing several other charges, including a charge under the new National Security Law that critics say criminalizes dissent, and who was sentenced to 14 months for his part in the protests, BBC reported.
A handwritten letter from Lai, published last week by Apple Daily, the Hong Kong publication Lai founded, expressed the stoic sentiments of the protestors, according to press reports.
“Hong Kong’s situation is increasingly chilling, but precisely because of that, we need to love and cherish ourselves more,” Lai’s letter said, “The era is falling apart before us and it is time for us to stand tall and keep our heads high.”
A written statement from the U.S. Department of State, responding to the most recent sentences, described them as “pro-democracy leaders,” emphasizing the peaceful nature of the protest and the indefensible nature of the arrests. That statement claims that the arrests violate Hong Kong Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration, and that it further shows an “effort to eliminate all forms of dissent.”
Hong Kong Basic Law has been in effect since 1997 when British rule in the region was handed to the Chinese National Party. It codifies the “one country, two systems” approach, offering some degree of self-rule to the people in Hong Kong, including provisions for freedom of speech and assembly. The Sino-British Joint Declaration is an international compact between Hong Kong, the UK, and China, signed in Beijing in 1984. It provides for limited autonomy for Hong Kong as well.
“We will continue to stand with Hong Kongers as they respond to Beijing’s assault on these freedoms and autonomy, and we will not stop calling for the release of those detained or imprisoned for exercising their fundamental freedoms,” U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said.
The European Union also condemned the imprisonments, echoing the comment that the sentencing was a violation of international agreements.
“The lengthy imprisonment of some of the individuals for non-violent acts when exercising protected civic rights is a further sign of the continued diminution of the democratic space and erosion of fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong,” a written comment from a spokesperson for the EU said.
Protests in Hong Kong have captured the attention of western press since 2019, particularly as tensions between China and the west have risen. Critics of the Chinese government are particularly concerned with the government’s human rights record, highlighting the attempt to crush dissent in Hong Kong and the repression of Uighurs in the Xinjiang province.
In The News
BEIJING (AP) — China on Tuesday rejected an accusation by Washington and its Western allies that Beijing is to blame for a hack of the Microsoft Exchange email system and complained Chinese entities are victims of damaging U.S. cyberattacks. A foreign ministry spokesman demanded Washington drop... Read More
The United States, NATO and several allies collectively called out China on Monday for a series of malicious cyber- and ransomware attacks, including a March attack that exploited a flaw in Microsoft's Exchange Server. Monday’s announcement, which followed a conference call with White House reporters Sunday... Read More
A report from the U.S. voiced concern over ongoing human rights abuses, which the U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, at a press conference on Monday characterized as an attempt to apply international pressure to stop atrocities. In the 2021 Wiesel report, the country’s annual atrocity... Read More
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan relinquished his position at a ceremony in the capital Kabul on Monday, taking the United States a step closer to ending its 20-year war. The move came as Taliban insurgents continue to gain territory across the... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Thursday said the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan will conclude on Aug. 31, saying "speed is safety" as the United States seeks to end the nearly 20-year war. "We did not go to Afghanistan to nation build," Biden said... Read More
An industry group representing Google, Facebook and other Internet companies warned Hong Kong’s government that changes to the city’s data-protection laws could dramatically curb the companies’ ability to provide services to it. The problem, the letter says, is vaguely worded rules that the Singapore-based Asia Internet... Read More