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CLD Statement on arrests of Pro Democracy legislators and advocates dated 26 April 2020

April 26, 2020 5:09 PM

Hongkong Martin Lee arrested April 2020On 18th April 2020, 15 of Hong Kong's most respected pro-democracy politicians and advocates were arrested on charges that they participated in organising unlawful assemblies on 18th August, 1st October and 20th October last year.

We note that the peaceful demonstration that took place on 18th August 2019 was attended by an estimated 1.7 million people,

These arrests are the latest in a recent spate of attacks on the opposition instigated by the Hong Kong administration. In late February this year, senior supporters of the pro-democracy movement were also arrested for taking part in an allegedly unauthorised demonstration on 31st 2019. This was subsequently followed by the arrests of more than a hundred people on various charges ranging from unauthorised assemblies to obstructing justice.

We believe that these recent arrests, undertaken in the midst of the global health pandemic, are a calculated and direct attack on the fundamental freedoms of speech and assembly, which the Hong Kong administration pledged to uphold under one country two systems. They are also an abrogation of the international rules based order, a breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, the cornerstone of Hong Kong's Constitution enshrined in the Basic Law.

We also note with deep concern recent reports of increased pressure on the judiciary of Hong Kong especially with calls by Chinese government's Liaison Office in Hong Kong for the application of a national security law in Hong Kong.

Furthermore, Chinese Government's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office has also criticised pro-democracy legislators for filibustering and accusing them of breaching their Legislative Council Oath. This has led to the Hong Kong Bar Association suggesting that this could amount to a breach of Article 22 of the Basic Law which states that "No department of the Central People's Government and no province, autonomous region or municipality directly under the Central Government may interfere in affairs which the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region administers on its own in accordance with this Law."

In the wake of the ongoing health and political crises, we implore the Hong Kong administration to be proactive and constructive in its approach, resist authoritarian influence, and to regain the trust of the Hong Kong people. Only through the legitimate elections of the Legislative Council (not arbitrary arrests) can the Hong Kong administration bring back peace and economic stability to Hong Kong.

The 15 people arrested are not the enemy within but are potential dialogue partners for rebuilding a post Covid19 world.

Finally, we hope and expect any arrests and judicial processes will be conducted in a fair and transparent manner.

The above statement adopted by the executive of Chinese Liberal Democrats draws upon like statements made by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and by Liberal International, FNF, CALD and ALDE Party, both on 18 April 2020, as well as the letter from Members of the European Parliament to the Chief Executive of HK dated 20th April 2020.