Hong Kong: Absurd cash bounties on overseas activists designed to sow fear worldwide © Getty Images

Hong Kong: Absurd cash bounties on overseas activists designed to sow fear worldwide

Responding to the Hong Kong police placing bounties of HK$1m (US$128,000) on five overseas pro-democracy activists, as well as arresting in Hong Kong four persons accused of assisting exiled activists targeted in a previous round of bounties, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Greater China, Sarah Brooks said:

“This is further confirmation that the Hong Kong authorities’ systematic dismantling of human rights has officially gone global. The brazen tactic of placing ‘Wild West’-style bounties on activists’ heads seems to be emerging as a method of choice to silence dissent.

These bounties not only threaten the liberty and safety of the activists targeted; they also have far-reaching consequences on other activists who are now left feeling increasingly uncertain about their security, whether in Hong Kong or overseas. The bounties only compound the already existing climate of fear.

Sarah Brooks, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Greater China

“The placement of a bounty under the guise of national security charges is an act of intimidation that transcends borders and aims to silence dissent everywhere. The Hong Kong authorities must withdraw these absurd and dangerous bounties immediately and release all those accused of assisting exiled activists.

“Amnesty International calls on host countries of the overseas activists targeted by the Hong Kong government to effectively protect their rights, including by preventing, investigating, punishing, and providing redress for human rights abuses they may experience. They must protect them against long-arm persecution by the Hong Kong authorities for simply exercising their human rights.”

Background on bounties

Hong Kong police today announced they are offering rewards of HK$1m (US$128,000) for information leading to the capture of five individuals based overseas.

The five – Simon Cheng, Frances Hui, Joey Siu, Johnny Fok and Tony Choi – are accused of “inciting secession” and “collusion with foreign forces” under the National Security Law, a crime that can carry a sentence of life in prison.

It means there are now bounties on a total of 13 “fugitives” wanted in Hong Kong national security cases. On 3 July, authorities put bounties of HK$1m on eight others: activists Nathan Law, Anna Kwok and Finn Lau, former lawmakers Dennis Kwok and Ted Hui, lawyer and legal scholar Kevin Yam, unionist Mung Siu-tat, and online commentator Yuan Gong-yi.

The eight, all of whom are in self-imposed exile in either the USA, the UK or Australia, are also accused of “colluding with foreign forces”. Two of the 13 targets are citizens in the countries where they now reside – Kevin Yam in Australia and Joey Siu in the USA.

National security police today also arrested four people in Hong Kong on suspicion of providing financial assistance to Ted Hui and Nathan Law through an online crowdfunding platform.

Since Hong Kong’s National Security Law came into effect in June 2020, the human rights situation in the city has deteriorated dramatically, with the freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association among the rights under sustained attack.

The Hong Kong authorities equate international exchange that they do not approve of as “collusion with foreign forces”. Police label benign day-to-day interaction between activists and foreign actors as acts that can potentially endanger national security.

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