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Hong Kong

    September 20, 2019

    A new Amnesty International field investigation has documented an alarming pattern of the Hong Kong Police Force deploying reckless and indiscriminate tactics, including while arresting people at protests, as well as exclusive evidence of torture and other ill-treatment in detention.

    After interviewing nearly two dozen arrested persons and gathering corroborating evidence and testimonies from lawyers, health workers and others, the organization is demanding a prompt and independent investigation into the violations, which appear to have escalated in severity since the mass protests began in June. 

    “The Hong Kong police’s heavy-handed crowd-control response on the streets has been livestreamed for the world to see. Much less visible is the plethora of police abuses against protesters that take place out of sight,” said Nicholas Bequelin, East Asia Director at Amnesty International.

    September 18, 2019

    This summer, university and high school students in Hong Kong took to the streets in huge numbers. Braving arrest, tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets, they have marched day after day to claim their rights.

    On 4 September, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced her government’s formal withdrawal of the Extradition Bill that had sparked the protests. But this was only one of the “five demands” that have propelled the movement.

    Protesters also want the government to retract its characterization of protests as “riots”; an independent investigation into use of force by police; and the unconditional release of everyone arrested in the context of protests. They also want political reform to ensure genuine universal suffrage - the ability to choose Hong Kong’s leaders themselves - as set under the city’s mini-Constitution, the Basic Law.

    Here three students tell Amnesty International why they’re not backing down now.

    Joey

    September 04, 2019

    Responding to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s announcement of an official withdrawal of the Extradition Law Amendment Bill, Man-Kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, said: 

    “While the formal withdrawal of this dangerous bill, at long last, is welcome, this announcement cannot change the fact that the Hong Kong authorities have chosen to suppress protests in a grossly unlawful way that has seriously damaged the people’s trust and sense of legitimacy of the government.  

    "A thorough and independent investigation into unnecessary and excessive use of force by police at protests is now needed more than ever. We continue to call on all governments to suspend transfers of less lethal ‘crowd control’ equipment to Hong Kong until a full investigation is carried out and adequate safeguards are put in place. 

    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 26, 2019

    ©Rainbow Ng

    DOWNLOAD PDF OF UA 191 HONG KONG HERE

    On 10 June 2019, lawmaker Tanya Chan was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment for using a loudspeaker to urge participants to join the 2014 Hong Kong pro-democracy Umbrella Movement protest. Tanya Chan is one of nine protest leaders who have been convicted of vague and ambiguous “public nuisance” related charges, four of which were sentenced to imprisonment. Their conviction and sentencing set a dangerous precedent, paving the way for the Hong Kong government to use vague and ambiguous charges for blanket prosecution and imprisonment of peaceful protesters.

    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.

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