We, the undersigned organisations, strongly condemn the increasing intimidation of civil society organisations (CSOs) in Hong Kong by the authorities and pro-government media. We urge the Hong Kong SAR government to stop arresting, detaining, and prosecuting CSO activists who rightly exercise their civic and democratic rights. We also urge pro-government media to stop smearing and accusing CSOs in Hong Kong with groundless reports.
Since the introduction of the National Security Law in Hong Kong in June 2020, the world has been witnessing shrinking civic space in Hong Kong. Many pro-democratic figures have been arrested and jailed for their peaceful protests. Worse still, many Hong Kong CSOs, which contributed to making Hong Kong into one of the most diverse, open and free cities in the world, are also under intensive pressure. In the face of such pressure and intimidation, an increasing number of CSOs defending human, civic and labour rights are being forced to stop their operation. Amongst many, the Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC) has announced to disband after being falsely accused by a pro-government newspaper of channelling foreign subversion funding to Hong Kong. The AMRC is nothing but a globally respected regional labour organisation that has been working with numerous grassroots labour organisations in Asia since 1968 to promote and advance labour rights across Asia. For all grassroots labour organisations in Asia, the end of the AMRC’s operation in Hong Kong is a great loss.
Hong Kong’s trade unions have also been attacked. The Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union (HKPTU), the largest professional’s union in Hong Kong with over 90,000 members, was forced to disband in August 2021 after being accused of “poisoning the next generation” and being “cancer of the society” by a number of pro-government media within the week. Furthermore, the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Union (HKCTU), the largest independent union federation in Hong Kong, has also become a major target of this smear campaign and intimidation. After many years of service for the dignity of local workers and justice for Hong Kong citizens, the HKCTU was described as the “black hand behind the 2019 anti-extradition bill movement” and a “foreign agent who sponsored the subversion actions”. We are now informed that the HKCTU is likely to disband soon after months of intimidation.
All these are not only a great loss for Hong Kong workers and citizens but also significant damage to all of us in Asia who work to build democratic and independent labour movements for the welfare of ordinary workers. With this joint statement, we stand in solidarity with the AMRC to join its journey to firmer workers’ solidarity across Asia. We also stand in solidarity with the Hong Kong labour movement in their struggle for more equal and democratic Hong Kong. In particular, we stand together with the HKCTU which has been facing formidable challenges in its labour organising works in the past few years. We believe that, as a trade unionist in Hong Kong rightly remarked, trade unions and labour organisations in Hong Kong may disappear – however, workers’ struggle will never.