OPEN LETTER: A gloomy 25th anniversary for Hong Kong

CSOs and Trade Unions call for the release of the imprisoned activists and the repeal of the national security law 

On July 1st, the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain,  John Lee, Hong Kong’s former secretary of security selected by Beijing has become the city’s new chief executive. The situation for human rights defenders, civil society organizations and trade unions and their leaders is expected to keep deteriorating. 

In this worrying context, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the Olof Palme International Center (OPIC) and SOLIDAR, together with APHEDA and SGS, have sent an open letter to the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell Fontellesasking to urge the Chinese and Hong Kong authorities to respect their international human obligations including human and labour standards and to 

  1. Immediately and unconditionally release all the arrested protesters who have exercised their rights to civil liberties in the 2019 protests, as well as all the trade unionists, journalists and human rights defenders arrested with national security charges. They include, inter alia, Chow Hang-tung, Albert Ho and the general secretary of HKCTU, Lee Cheuk-yan, who are charged with inciting subversion for leading the defunct Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movement in China which had been organising peaceful June-Fourth candle-light vigils in Hong Kong for the past 33 years.
  2. Repeal the NSL and withdraw any plans to introduce new legislations that are not compatible with international human rights treaties and labour standards including a domestic law on national security. 

Moreover, the letter urges 

  1. National Governments to report progress on the commitment to suspend any existing extradition agreements with China and Hong Kong, adopt lifeboat scheme for human rights activists in Hong Kong and the diaspora, and the cessation of the exports of sensitive equipment to Hong Kong.  
  2. The Council of the European Union to update its 2020 Conclusions on the situation in Hong Kong to cope with these rapid deteriorations, reflect in full the resolutions adopted by the European Parliament in 2021 and 2022, as well as the due diligence obligations of European companies operating in Hong Kong.

The ETUC, the ITUC, the OPIC and SOLIDAR, together with APHEDA and SGS, stand in firm solidarity with the trade unionists, human rights defenders, and pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong.   

Read the full Open Letter here

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