STATEMENT ON THE ARREST OF JOURNALISTS, TRADE UNIONISTS AND OTHER CITIZEN COURT OBSERVERS IN HONG KONG
The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China condemns the arrest of six individuals on suspicion of seditious intention to incite hatred, contempt or rebellion against the administration of justice in Hong Kong after applauding during the trial of Chow Hang-tung’s June Fourth memorial incitement case earlier this year.
The individuals arrested include the vice-chairman of the now disbanded Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (CTU), Leo Tang, and citizen journalist Siu Wan (Siew Yun-long). The sedition charges were made under Sections 9 and 10 of the Crimes Ordinance – colonial era laws that have been criticised by the UN Human Rights Committee and frequently used by the Hong Kong authorities to crack down on legitimate protest. The other individuals arrested were citizen observers at the courts who frequently witness political cases.
Not only are these charges wrong and to be condemned, but they also demonstrate how far the rule of law has deteriorated in Hong Kong. It is absurd that mere applause during a court case can be construed as a seditious act. The seditious intention charge has become the ‘pocket crime’ of the city, used as a blanket charge to crack down on all forms of dissent and political opposition in the city.
This case also adds to the severe pressure imposed on Hong Kong’s once-independent legal system. Should the case proceed, this would be the Hong Kong government’s first attempt to restrict court proceedings on the grounds of national security.
We call on our governments to hold the Chinese and Hong Kong authorities to account for these abuses. Chinese and Hong Kong Officials responsible for reneging on its promises to uphold Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy under international law must face targeted sanctions. We also reiterate our appeal for all overseas judges to withdraw from serving on Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal in this further undermining of the independence and integrity of Hong Kong’s legal system.