For people who wants to peacefully assemble and express their voice, Hong Kong is not the right place. According too the latest report by Amnesty International, that right of citizens is under threat there and is an indication that the human rights situation is worsening in Hong Kong.
A hard line against protesters and activists were taken by the government, said the agency in its annual report that reviewed the human rights situation in the city last year.
“In the past year, the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression have both been dealt blows in Hong Kong,” the report said.
Three student leaders of the Occupy movement in the city were jailed last August on charges of storming into government headquarters. Even though the three students were initially given community serviced orders or suspended jail terms, the city authorities had demanded stricter penalties against them.
Two of the students have successfully appealed against the jailing order earlier this month.
There was a marked difference in the actions of the government in human rights cases now in comparison to the past, said Mabel Au Mei-po, Amnesty International Hong Kong director.
“The human rights situation in Hong Kong is deteriorating and getting less and less ideal … In previous years, protesters were not usually prosecuted, or even if they were convicted, they would have been given community service – not to the point where they would be jailed,” she said.
“The government is sending a clear message to the public that if they go out onto the streets, their behaviour could land them in jail. This might make them become afraid to come out to express their ideas and opinions.”
The charges of public nuisance that were brought against another nine people, including Occupy founders Benny Tai Yiu-ting, Dr Chan Kin-man and Reverend Chu Yiu-ming were also criticized and questions by Au. These people were a part what were “largely peaceful” protests in 2014.
Hong Kong government was also criticized by the UN Human Rights Committee which said that the authorities had been unsuccessful in meeting international human rights laws, pointed out the report and added that the wrongful application of the city’s Public Order Ordinance had led to that criticism.
In 2017, many of the world leaders which includes Chinese president Xi Jinping did not adhere to human rights expectations, the organization said in another report which dealt with the human rights situation in 159 countries.
“The feeble response to crimes against humanity and war crimes from Myanmar to Syria underscored the lack of leadership on human rights. Crimes against humanity and war crimes have gone unaddressed, sending a dangerous signal to abusers that anything goes,” said Roseann Rife, East Asia research director at Amnesty.
“The concern we have about China stepping in is the model that they’re talking about focuses on economics and development and completely leaves human rights out of the equation,” Rife said.
“China’s authoritarian model includes silencing human rights defenders who remain under attack in China in 2017.”
(Adapted from SCMP.com)