06/17/2020, 16.33
HONG KONG – CHINA
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Security law threatens Hong Kong's freedoms, says open letter by 86 world groups

by Paul Wang

The letter, addressed to the president of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, was signed by many NGO and Christian groups from the United States, Australia, and Norway. Prominent pro-Beijing individuals defend it and threaten to use it retroactively. Hong Kong’s extradition bill could be reintroduced, despite its rejection by Hong Kong people last year.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Some 86 groups from all around the world have signed an open letter addressed to the president of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) asking that it drop plans to impose a national security law on Hong Kong.

The long letter addressed to Li Zhansu is dated 16 June. It is signed by many NGOs, like Human Rights in China and Amnesty International, as well as other human rights groups in Australia, the United States, Norway, not to mention various Christian humanitarian organisations.

According to the petitioners, the proposed law before the NPC threatens “the basic rights and freedoms of the people in Hong Kong.” It seeks to ban “splittism, subversion, terrorism,” and the activities of “foreign and overseas intervention in Hong Kong affairs”.

These crimes are however defined so vaguely in China that they could be applied to any organisation that has peaceful links with overseas. At the same time, the emphasis on "national security" could “justify restrictions on rights and freedoms” and “repressive practices against” the population, like in mainland China.

China’s notion of national security is so broad that “that peaceful activists, human rights lawyers, scholars, ethnic minorities, journalists, and netizens, are detained”.

Although the text of the bill is not yet public, the petitioners are already very concerned about the comments of some pro-Beijing leaders in Hong Kong.

Standing Committee member Tam Yiu-chung has already suggested that those who oppose the national security legislation should be disqualified from Hong Kong’s Legislative Council.

The deputy director of the Standing Committee’s Hong Kong Basic Law Committee, Elsie Leung, “has not ruled out” that the law may even be retroactive, thus becoming a tool for Beijing’s vendetta against pro-democracy activists.

Tam Yiu-chung went further, saying that the security law could be used to extradite Hong Kong residents for trial in mainland China.

A year ago, the Hong Kong government introduced an extradition bill, but massive grassroots protests of up to more than two million people forced it back down.

The opposition to the law was justified precisely because of profound flaws in China’s judicial system, which does not guarantee basic human rights.

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