By James Moules
AMNESTY International will close its two offices in Hong Kong by the end of 2021 because of the National Security Law, a spokesperson has announced.
The human rights organisation confirmed on October 25, 2021 that its local ‘section’ office in Hong Kong will close by the end of the same month, while its regional office will follow suit by the end of the year.
Amnesty cited mounting pressure imposed by the Hong Kong National Security Law as the main reason for the move.
Anjhula Mya Singh Bais, chair of Amnesty’s International Board, said: “This decision, made with a heavy heart, has been driven by Hong Kong’s national security law, which has made it effectively impossible for human rights organisations in Hong Kong to work freely and without fear of serious reprisals from the government.
“Hong Kong has long been an ideal regional base for international human rights organisations, but the recent targeting of local human rights and trade union groups signals an intensification of the authorities’ campaign to rid the city of all dissenting voices.
“It is increasingly difficult for us to keep operating in such an unstable environment.”
The Hong Kong National Security Law was implemented on June 30, 2020 – which Hong Kong democracy activists blasted as a wide-scale crackdown by Beijing on the autonomy and freedoms guaranteed to the region upon its handover to China.
The law was imposed amidst mass protests in Hong Kong against the growing influence of the Chinese Communist Party, which were triggered by a proposed bill that would have allowed extradition to the mainland.
Since the imposition of the National Security Law, several high profile Hong Kong democracy activists including billionaire Jimmy Lai and trade unionist Lee Cheuk-Yan have received jail sentences.
However, China claims that the law is there to ensure order in the region.
In the UK, Labour’s Stephen Kinnock, Shadow Minister for Asia, lamented the move, tweeting: “The fact that an organisation as esteemed as Amnesty International now feels that it has no choice but to close its Hong Kong office shows the depth to which the Chinese government will sink to crush liberty, democracy and human rights.”
Agnes Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International, said: “We are deeply indebted to Amnesty members and staff who over the last 40 years have worked tirelessly to protect human rights in and from Hong Kong.
“From successfully pushing for the full abolition of the death penalty in Hong Kong in 1993, to exposing evidence of excessive use of force by police during the 2019 mass protests, Amnesty in Hong Kong has shone a light on human rights violations in the darkest of days.”
The Chinese Embassy in London was contacted for comment.
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