We are a group of Hong Kongers who call Halifax home. Located 12,500 kilometres from Halifax, the city of Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of China. Ruled under the constitutional principle “one country, two systems,” Hong Kong is entitled to a high degree of autonomy and freedom. However, today, such autonomy and freedom are under attack, sparking and fueling over 3 months of ongoing protests around the city. We would like an opportunity to share our story, and hope to earn your solidarity and support.
Democracy, the rule of law, and human rights are core values of Hong Kong. These values are protected under the Hong Kong Basic Law, which Beijing promised to uphold until 2047 under the Sino-British Joint Declaration. However, all three core values are currently being eroded by the Central Government of China and the Hong Kong Government. Against such super power, Hong Kongers have nowhere else to turn for help but the global community.
The ongoing erosion of the rule of law in Hong Kong is clearly illustrated by the severe and ongoing police brutality since June 12, 2019. One of many examples is the Prince Edward Station incident on 31 August, where the police were seen indiscriminately attacking civilians with batons and pepper spray without justification. In addition, the San Uk Ling Holding Centre — a detention facility located away from urban areas and near the border of China — saw arrested protesters subject to unethical treatments. Many were denied timely legal counsel before making their statements, while others with serious injuries were denied timely medical assistance.
Throughout this movement, more than 1,400 people have been arrested, with the youngest being just 12 years old. As the due process and habeas corpus are routinely ignored by the police, the people of Hong Kong are increasingly distrustful of the authorities. Therefore, we demand to establish an independent inquiry committee in order to fairly and transparently investigate police handling of the protests, and to restore justice. This will not be the first time Hong Kong has such committee investigating the police or a major civil movement. In 1973, the Sir Alastair Blair-Kerr report prompted the creation of the anti-corruption task force that was to be independent from the Hong Kong Police Force.
Human rights including the freedom of expression and the freedom of assembly are guaranteed by the Basic Law, the mini constitution of Hong Kong. Yet, Hong Kongers both in and outside Hong Kong are experiencing a fear never experienced before. In Hong Kong, some fear the constant surveillance via street light pole cameras, cameras on public transport, and facial recognition cameras by the police. There is also fear of political persecution, cyberattacks, job loss due to political views, and personal safety, some of which extend beyond the borders of Hong Kong and China. These are all new types of fear people are confronting day to day. It is also important to note that most protests in Hong Kong have been peaceful with three major protests exceeding a million people seeking for the five demands (listed below). Yet, the government repeatedly ignored people’s voices and evaded the five demands, causing frustrations and fueling anger. As such, some have resorted to increasingly pugnacious means to press their case.
The last core value is democracy. Hong Kong still lacks universal suffrage that allows people to choose the Chief Executive and the Legislative Council entirely. Currently, only an electoral committee of 1,200 people handpicked by Beijing can vote in the Chief Executive election, trampling the dignity and dreams of 7.5 million Hong Kongers. The promise of universal suffrage, codified in both the basic law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration, is broken. And the relentless fight for the broken promise only seems to result in more repression, highlighting the incompatibility between the totalitarian regime and the pursuit of freedom and autonomy.
With all three core values of Hong Kong being critically damaged, we call for the global community to stand with those in Hong Kong at the frontline fighting for a world order that upholds human rights and dignity. There will be a global event on the weekend of the 28th for the world community to show solidarity with Hong Kong. In Halifax, we will hold a human chain event this Saturday (September 28th) at 2 pm outside the Halifax Public Garden (Junction of Spring Garden Road and South Park Street). Please join us!
Last but not least, our five demands since June are listed below:
1. A full withdrawal of the extradition bill.
2. Retraction of the characterisation of the June 12th protest as a “riot”.
3. Amnesty for all arrested protesters.
4. The appointment of an independent inquiry committee to investigate police brutality and the movement.
5. The Resignation of Carrie Lam and implementation of dual universal suffrage for the Legislative Council and the Chief Executive elections.
Halifax-Hong Kong Link