The HAEA public health union is particularly in the crosshairs of the authorities. It was set up at the end of 2019 in the wake of the democracy mobilisations. It quickly brought together nearly a quarter of the sector’s staff and has become one of the authorities’ pet peeves :
– HAEA organised a five-day renewable strike in early February 2020, which was partially successful and forced the government to finally take some measures to deal with the beginning of the Covid epidemic.
HAEA also criticised a vaccine manufactured in mainland China and an anti-Covid web application.
HAEA is fully committed to the struggle for democracy. HAEA Chair Winnie Yu has been charged with undermining state security and faces a sentence of up to life imprisonment for her attempt to run for office. Her trial, and that of 46 co-accused, is due to begin on 23 September. In the meantime, she spent nearly seven months in custody before being granted bail on 28 July with draconian conditions.
The government is currently conducting a thorough investigation into HAEA, which could lead to her disappearance.
Also in the health sector, five leaders of the General Union of Speech Therapists were arrested on charges of undermining state security. They are accused of having published children’s comics that the authorities believe incite hatred towards the government. In addition, the union will cease to be recognised by the state as of 13 October. In this context, three other professional organisations in the health sector have announced their self-dissolution.
This frontal attack by the authorities also affects other professional sectors such as education, where two professional organisations have recently dissolved themselves. Among them, the huge HKPTU union to which 90% of Hong Kong teachers belonged.
Several associations, coalitions and political parties that had been structuring political and social life for years have also dissolved.
As for the HKCTU, its president Carol Ng and its general secretary Lee Cheuk-yan have both been behind bars for months, and a process of scuttling the HKCTU has been put in place.
Hong Kong trade unionists and other democracy fighters need the solidarity of trade unionists around the world more than ever.