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Hong Kong

    September 03, 2019

    In response to the latest clashes between police and protesters in Hong Kong on Saturday night – which included police storming the platform of Prince Edward metro station and beating people on a train - Man-kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, said:

    “Violence directed at police on Saturday is no excuse for officers to go on the rampage elsewhere. The horrifying scenes at Prince Edward metro station, which saw terrified bystanders caught up in the melee, fell far short of international policing standards.

    “Video footage shows police stormed the train carriage and used batons to repeatedly beat people posing no threat whatsoever. Pepper spray was used in a carriage where people had no means to retreat, while medics were barred from entering the station. It is also alarming that a police officer appeared to aim a sponge grenade launcher at close range to those inside the train. Such unlawful police tactics continue to inflame rather than deescalate the situation.

    August 30, 2019

    Responding to the arrests in Hong Kong of prominent pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow on Friday morning and independence activist Andy Chan on Thursday night, Man-kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, said:

    “The ludicrous dawn swoops by police to arrest Agnes Chow and Joshua Wong are an outrageous assault on the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. 

    “This past week, we have seen scare tactics straight out of Beijing’s playbook: pro-democracy protest organizers attacked by thugs, prominent activists arrested after being snatched from their homes and streets, and a major rally planned for Saturday banned.

    “The authorities must end this concerted attack on the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly. It is vital that the authorities send a clear message that people in Hong Kong can still enjoy these rights irrespective of their political beliefs.” 

    Background 

    August 23, 2019

     

    Alex Neve is the Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada

    The conflict between the people Hong Kong and their government has become increasingly alarming to watch. While no one wants to imagine an ongoing human rights crisis, there is already cause for grave concern. Amnesty International has repeatedly documented police abuses against protesters, including unlawful use of tear gas and rubber bullets. As hundreds of thousands of protesters continue to flood the streets, the world watches and wonders if various frightening and violent scenarios are forthcoming. Might Hong Kong conduct mass arrests? Might China intervene and take repressive action? Will refugees begin to flee from Hong Kong?

    If so, will Canada be ready to step up and offer safety? We very much need to prepare.

    August 18, 2019

    In response to another march this afternoon where hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets, Man-Kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong said:

    “The people of Hong Kong have once again demonstrated their resolve by taking part in a peaceful demonstration against a proposed extradition bill.

    “We saw how failure in political leadership inflamed tensions between protesters and the police in the past few months. The Hong Kong government must immediately withdraw the extradition law amendments, ensure the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and allow an independent investigation into the use of force by Hong Kong police against protesters.”

    Spokespeople are available in English and Cantonese. Please contact Lucy Scholey, Media Relations, Amnesty International Canada (English branch), 613-744-7667 ext. 236 lscholey@amnesty.ca

    August 12, 2019

    In response to police operations on Aug 11, where rounds of tear gas and rubber bullets were fired, Man-Kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong said: 

    “Hong Kong police have once again used tear gas and rubber bullets in a way that have fallen short of international standards. Firing at retreating protesters in confined areas where they had little time to leave goes against the purported objective of dispersing a crowd.” 

    According to media reports, one protester suffered from a ruptured eye in Tsim Sha Tsui after being shot by what appeared to be a bean bag projectile from the police. Police fired multiple rounds of tear gas and pepper ball projectiles were fired within a short range inside a train station in Kwai Fong and Taikoo against protesters, sometimes aiming at their heads and upper bodies.  

    July 31, 2019

    In response to 44 people in Hong Kong being charged with “rioting” in connection to protests over the weekend, Man-kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, said:

    “By using such vague charges against pro-democracy protesters, the Hong Kong authorities seem intent on sending a chilling warning to anyone considering taking part in future protests.

    “While there was violence over the weekend, the definitions of illegal assembly and rioting under Hong Kong law are so broad they fall far short of international standards. It is highly questionable that individuals facing these sweeping charges would have a fair chance of defending themselves at trial.

    “With these ambiguous charges combined with the repeated use of excessive force by police and the outright banning of some protests, the authorities are showing a flagrant disregard to the right to peaceful assembly.

    “Many people in Hong Kong will today be questioning why charges have been swiftly brought against pro-democracy protesters yet no one involved in the vicious beatings at Yuen Leung station more than a week ago has so far been charged.

    July 09, 2019

    Responding to remarks by Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Tuesday that the controversial Extradition Bill is “dead” and that there would be no high-level independent investigation into the recent policing of protests, Man-kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, said:

    “Carrie Lam’s refusal to acknowledge the consequences of the fatal flaws of the Extradition Bill continues to inflame the situation in Hong Kong. It is long overdue for her to give an unequivocal commitment that the Extradition Bill, which poses a real threat to human rights, will be withdrawn for good.

    “The excessive use of force by police on 12 June was a violation of international law and standards. To be fair to everyone involved, there must be an independent, impartial, effective and prompt investigation into the actions by police on 12 June. Anything else, including an IPCC enquiry that falls short of what is needed, will not help to establish truth and accountability and regain public trust. Police officers responsible, including senior officers in command on 12 June, must face justice.”

    Notes to editors

    June 21, 2019
    Amnesty International examined incidents of unnecessary and excessive use of force during 12 June protest Restraint urged in policing of upcoming protests Police must be held to account for unlawful use of force

    Hong Kong police must end the unlawful use of force against peaceful protesters who have once again taken to the streets on Friday, Amnesty International said, as it published details of verified instances of unnecessary and excessive use of force by police on 12 June.

    Experts in policing and digital verification examined in detail footage of 14 incidents of apparent police violence. All verified incidents were filmed during the 12 June protest, which saw tens of thousands of people take part in a largely peaceful demonstration against the Hong Kong government’s proposed extradition bill.

    June 12, 2019

    In response to the use of force against largely peaceful protestors by Hong Kong police, who used tear gas, guns firing bean bags and rubber bullets, batons and pepper spray to disperse a demonstration against the extradition bill in central Hong Kong on Wednesday, Man-Kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, commented:

    “The ugly scenes of police using tear gas and pepper spray against overwhelmingly peaceful protesters is a violation of international law. Police have a duty to maintain public order, but in doing so they may use force only when strictly necessary. Hong Kong’s police have today failed to live up to this standard.

    “The police have taken advantage of the violent acts of a small minority as a pretext to use excessive force against the vast majority of peaceful protesters.

    “Tear gas and projectiles like rubber bullets are notoriously inaccurate and indiscriminate and can result in serious injury and even death. They should only ever be used in a targeted response to specific acts of violence and never to disperse peaceful protesters.

    April 24, 2019

    Four leaders of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Umbrella Movement protests jailed today for their role in the 2014 peaceful protests must be immediately and unconditionally set free and have their convictions overturned, Amnesty International said.

    The pro-democracy activists were given jail terms ranging from eight to 16 months in prison at West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts.

    Among the eight protesters sentenced were the co-founders of the “Occupy Central” campaign – legal scholar Professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting and sociologist Professor Chan Kin-man, who each received 16 months’ imprisonment. The other two activists jailed are political party leader Raphael Wong and lawmaker Shiu Ka-chun, each sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment.

    February 28, 2019

    The Hong Kong authorities must not return two sisters to Saudi Arabia where their lives would be in grave danger, Amnesty International said.

    The women, who are aged 18 and 20 and are known as Reem and Rawan, fled Saudi Arabia after suffering repeated beatings by male family members and being treated “like slaves”. They arrived in Hong Kong last September when trying to reach Australia. They were blocked from continuing their journey by Saudi consular agents at Hong Kong International Airport. The sisters subsequently learned that their passports had been revoked, making it impossible for them to extend their visas to remain in Hong Kong.

    The sisters have been allowed to stay in Hong Kong as “tolerated” overstayers. That period of toleration is set to expire on 28 February. Hong Kong authorities could extend the period of toleration, which would allow the women to explore third country resettlement options.

    August 27, 2018

    In response to reports that two members of Hong Kong pro-democracy party Demosistō were detained and interrogated by Chinese state security officials when visiting mainland China in separate incidents in March and August 2018, Joyce Chiang, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, commented:

    “This is a chilling attempt by state security officials in mainland China to silence Hong Kong activists and stop them from participating in civil society organizations. Individuals should not have to live in fear of being detained and tortured when visiting mainland China simply for peacefully exercising their rights in Hong Kong.

    “The Hong Kong authorities now need to show they are prepared to defend Hong Kong’s freedom of expression and freedom of association in the face of pressure from the mainland government, including for those who are critical of the government. The Hong Kong government must be unequivocal in calling for an investigation into these serious allegations. Any failure to do so would lead to the further erosion of the rights to freedom of expression and association in Hong Kong.”

    Background

    July 04, 2018

    In response to the ruling by Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal upholding as unlawful the government’s refusal to issue a dependant visa to a woman in a same-sex civil partnership, Jan Wetzel, Senior Legal Advisor at Amnesty International, said: 

    “This judgment is a milestone for Hong Kong and a watershed moment for the rights of LGBTI people across Asia. It recognizes that same-sex couples legally married or in civil partnerships overseas should be able to live with their partners in the same way as opposite-sex couples.

    “The Court of Final Appeal has sent a clear message that the government must respect the right to equality in its policies, including when it comes to immigration. 

    "The government must now follow up and end the discrimination same-sex couples face in all walks of life. It must also swiftly introduce comprehensive legislation against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status. No one should experience discrimination because of who they are, or who they love.” 

    Background

    February 22, 2018
    Amnesty International publishes State of the World’s Human Rights report for 2017 to 2018 “Last year our world was immersed in crises, with prominent leaders offering us a nightmarish vision of a society blinded by hatred and fear. This emboldened those who promote bigotry, but it inspired far more people to campaign for a more hopeful future,” says Salil Shetty, head of Amnesty International

    The world is reaping the terrifying consequences of hate-filled rhetoric that threatens to normalize massive discrimination against marginalized groups, Amnesty International warned today as it launched its annual assessment of human rights.

    Nevertheless, the organization found that a growing movement of both first-time and seasoned activists campaigning for social justice provides real hope of reversing the slide towards oppression.

    The report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, covers 159 countries and delivers the most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights in the world today.

    February 06, 2018

    In response to Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal overturning the jail sentences for three prominent pro-democracy activists, Mabel Au, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, commented:

    “The Court of Final Appeal has today corrected an injustice. The government’s vengeful pursuit of harsher sentences led to the trio being jailed and it is right this has now been overturned.

    “All politically motivated prosecutions aimed at silencing those promoting democracy in Hong Kong must be dropped. The government’s unyielding stance is having a chilling effect on the human rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.”

    Background

    In August 2017, Hong Kong’s Court of Appeal handed Joshua Wong, Alex Chow and Nathan Law between six and eight months in prison for their roles in a demonstration that helped spark the city’s 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement. The trio were released on bail in October and November 2017 pending their appeal.

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