By James Moules
A BRITISH Labour MP called on the labour movement to show solidarity with the people of Hong Kong following crackdowns on the region’s democracy by the Chinese government.
Mass protests erupted in Hong Kong in 2019 over a proposed bill that would allow from the region to the mainland – which quickly morphed into a wider resistance against Beijing’s policies regarding the region’s autonomy.
The Chinese government imposed the controversial National Security Bill upon Hong Kong is an assault on the freedom of the region guaranteed in the handover agreement from Britain.
Under the law, numerous pro-democracy protestors and activists have been arrested and faced trial, including 47 high profile figures known now as the Hong Kong 47.
There has also been increased vetting of candidates allowed to stand in elections in Hong Kong, under a system described as “patriots only.”
Speaking at a UK based rally on October 2, 2021, Labour MP for Nottingham East Nadia Whittome said: “The Chinese government’s imposition of the National Security Law was designed to crush dissent and stifle political freedom and that is exactly what is happening.
“Almost every leading activist in the democracy movement in Hong Kong – the Hong Kong 47 and many others – are on trial.
“And just on Thursday, we saw a group of 14 young people, including a 15-year-old, two 16-year-olds and an 18-year-old being brought to court for supporting the democracy movement.
“This is an attempt at criminalising a whole generation of young people.
“So we must highlight and condemn the fact lawmakers are being disqualified, the fact that activists are fleeing into exile, that protest is being criminalised and the police brutality and state repression by the Chinese government against Hong Kongers who are protesting for democracy.”
Among the activists who faced trial was Lee Cheuk-Yan, the General Secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions – Hong Kong’s main pro-democracy trade union bloc.
However, on October 3, 2021, the HKCTU disbanded following a decision by members amidst increasing political pressure.
A spokesperson for the Labour Movement Solidarity with Hong Kong UK said: “International solidarity cannot be terrorised out of existence, it must be increased.
“We will continue to support any trade unions persecuted in Hong Kong.”
At the rally, Whittome said: “We must demand that the trade unionists and activists who have been arrested for organising and standing in democratic primaries are released immediately and that their charges are dropped immediately, and we must call on our government to act.
“It’s not enough to open routes that they have already taken and they action that they have so far.”
She further added: “For me as a socialist, condemning the actions of the Chinese Communist Party is not controversial, because when we see a police officer beating up a worker, when we Muslims in concentration camps in China, and when we see millions of people denied basic democratic freedoms, we need to know which side we’re on.
“It’s not a People’s Republic if the people have no power over their government, and it’s not socialism if one million people are forced into slave labour concentration camps.
“Opposing tyranny and genocide does not mean endorsing US imperialism.”
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