The ongoing protests in Hong Kong have caught the world’s attention. In August, pro-democracy protesters organised Hong Kong’s first general strike in half a century. For more than four months, millions of demonstrators, led largely by students and young people, have risked arrest and persecution in their defence of democracy and rule of law in Hong Kong.
The situation is serious and concerning. Two weeks ago, in the context of the Chinese Communist Party’s commemoration, on 1 October 2019, of the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, fresh clashes between protesters and police resulted in hundreds wounded, some severely. On 4 October 2019, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Chief Executive Carrie Lam invoked the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, the first time since 1967 this has been done. More protests are expected.
Given the risks of escalating tension and violence, the EPP calls on all parties involved to exercise restraint and work together to find a peaceful solution to the current impasse. The Chinese state authorities, in particular, have a responsibility to ensure that the basic human freedoms of assembly, expression and association are protected as stipulated in the Sino-British Declaration and the Hong Kong Basic Law. Peaceful protesters should never suffer violence or political persecution at the hands of police, security forces or criminal gangs. At stake is the safety and livelihood of potentially millions of people.
The EPP welcomes the HKSAR’s commitment to withdraw, as announced by Chief Executive Lam on 4 September 2019, the April 2019 bill entitled the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation, which would subject criminal suspects in Hong Kong to rendition to mainland China, including potentially for political reasons or without full protection of their human rights.
The EPP calls on Chief Executive Lam and the HKSAR to follow through on their September commitment to investigate police conduct vis-à-vis protesters. This investigation, in keeping with good faith, must be independent and immediate.
The EPP also calls on the HKSAR to honour its 28 September 2019 commitment to ‘take forward constitutional development’ within a framework of dialogue, legality, peace, mutual trust and consensus. The local election on 24 November 2019 must be free and fair; no candidate for councillor should be barred for political reasons.
Commitment to fundamental values will always guide EPP policy. We reiterate our core belief, as expressed in our 2012 platform, that ‘’Freedom is inherent’’ in human nature and our commitment, as expressed in our 2019 campaign manifesto, to the principles of democracy, human rights, human dignity, freedom and responsibility, equality between men and women, solidarity, rule of law, justice, pluralism and tolerance.