Human Rights First: Cancel the Trial of Hong Kong Activists and Drop the Charges Against Them
WASHINGTON – The May 18 trial of 15 veteran pro-democracy activists arrested in Hong Kong in April should be canceled, and charges against the defendants dropped, said Human Rights First today.
“This is exactly the sort of case the U.S. government should be scrutinizing closely when it’s deciding its future relationship with Hong Kong,” said Brian Dooley, senior advisor at Human Rights First. “This is a huge test. The Hong Kong authorities will be waiting to see the international reaction to these prosecutions. It should be strong and unequivocal in its condemnation.”
The charges against the 15 include participating in, assisting in, and promoting, “unauthorized” assemblies last year. Those charged are all prominent in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement and include leading human rights lawyers Margaret Ng, Martin Lee and Albert Ho.
“By putting these people on trial, the Hong Kong authorities are inflaming an already volatile situation. The first anniversary of the massive pro-democracy marches is approaching,” said Dooley. “Hong Kong is recklessly and needlessly moving to stifle the voices of democracy.”
The city has been rocked by large-scale protests since June 2019 pushing for political and police reform. Human Rights First has been in Hong Kong regularly in 2019 and 2020 documenting the protests and attacks on activists.
In November 2019 President Donald Trump signed into law the Hong Kong Democracy and Human Rights Act, bipartisan legislation that allows the U.S. government to sanction officials considered to be harming human rights and freedom in Hong Kong.
“U.S. government officials should speak out clearly and publicly against these trials, send observers to the court if the defendants want that, and also make clear to Hong Kong’s government that there will be consequences for its relationship with Washington if it proceeds with this case,” said Dooley.