Hong Kong’s renewed democracy clamp-down sparks Labour movement calls for solidarity

By James Moules

CAMPAIGNERS have called on progressive-minded people to stand in solidarity with Hong Kong in the wake of the jailing of several high profile democracy activists.

At the start of December, Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam – three of the most prominent pro-democracy Hong Kong campaigners – were sentenced to jail for unauthorised assembly.

Their penalty comes amid months-long mass protests sparked by proposed legislation to allow extradition to mainland China – a move that pro-democracy camps feared would undermine the region’s judicial autonomy under the One Country, Two Systems agreement.

READ MORE: Simon Cheng talks democracy and freedom in Hong Kong

The bill was later withdrawn, but the protests continued. This was followed by a new national security law introduced in June 2020 which gave authorities in Beijing greater powers to crack down on protestors.

Pro-democracy activists fear that the national security law would severely curtail Hong Kong’s freedoms.

Redaction Politics contacted the Labour movement solidarity with Hong Kong (UK) about the sentencing.

Pete Radcliff, the movement’s convenor said: “It is, of course, an outrage. We call on the labour movement in this country and overseas to condemn it and demand action against the HK authorities and the CCP [Chinese Communist Party].

“We are raising as well the wider clamp-down also going on it Hong Kong since the jailing of Joshua, Agnes and Ivan with many other democrats and socialists arrested.”

Amid the security law implementation, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a plan to welcome as many as three million Hong Kongers to the country – with an eventual path to citizenship.

Speaking before the House of Commons on December 7, Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy said: “The arrest and sentencing of Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam sets a troubling precedent, and it is important that we send a united message in our opposition to attempts to erode the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong.”

The Sino-British Joint Declaration was signed in 1984, in which it was agreed that Hong Kong would be handed over from Britain to China in 1997 with autonomy promised to Hong Kong under One Country, Two Systems for 50 years.

READ MORE: Britain’s move to suspend military training for Hong Kong police ‘must serve as a turning point’

Responding to Nandy, Nigel Adams, the Minister of State for Asia, said: “It is crucial that the new national security law is not misused to silence critics or to stifle opposition.

“The freedom of the press is explicitly guaranteed in the Sino-British joint declaration and the Basic Law and is supposedly protected under article 4 of the national security law. There are indeed deeply worrying ongoing arrests of students, which are being used as a pretext to silence opposition.

“We always raise our concerns directly with Hong Kong and with the Chinese authorities; we urge them to uphold their international obligations.”

In a statement, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also said: “As three Hong Kong activists begin prison sentences, I urge the Hong Kong and Beijing authorities to bring an end to their campaign to stifle opposition.

“Prosecution decisions must be fair and impartial, and the rights and freedoms of people in Hong Kong must be upheld.”

Pete Radcliff continued: “We want to develop work with Labour Party organisations, trade unions and the growing Chinese-Hong Kong diaspora communities as well as with other migrant communities.

“The freedom of Hong Kong is highly dependent on developments in China. Unfortunately, there are some in the labour movement who peddle nonsense about the Chinese regime and make out that it is ‘progressive’. They deny the existence of the repression in Hong Kong and even of the Uyghur people.

“We have to educate against such drivel. Along with others, we will inform and campaign to support those bravely fighting for democracy and workers’ rights not only in Hong Kong but across China itself.”

Featured Image: Studio Incendo @Flickr

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