Do Not Prosecute Peaceful Activists and Scholars

Target: Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngo, Chief Executive of Hong Kong

Goal: Do not prosecute or imprison activists and scholars for their participation in the Hong Kong’s Occupy movement.

Activists and academics in Hong Kong have been arrested and charged for their involvement in the so-called Umbrella Movement. Mobilizing more than one million citizens for protesting, the Umbrella Movement demanded electoral and other democratic reforms in Hong Kong. The movement is frequently taken as part of the wave launched worldwide by the Occupy movement, and it relied on non-violent methods of civil disobedience. It is evident that the arrest and subsequent prosecution of scholars and activists are in retaliation against their political views. Hong Kong state authorities are openly smashing the right to freedom of expression and the right to freedom of association, and those who uphold democratic values have the duty to stand up and fiercely oppose that.

The Umbrella Movement staged massive marches, large sit-ins and an inspiring 79-day occupation in Hong Kong’s central square. Their demand for universal suffrage is enshrined in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is a constitutional promise stipulated in the Basic Law of Hong Kong. However, nine activists, scholars, former student leaders, and legislators have been charged with “conspiracy to commit public nuisance,” “inciting others to commit public nuisance,” and “inciting people to incite others to commit public nuisance.” They are Professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting, Professor Chan Kin-man, Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, former student leaders Cheung Sau-yin and Chung Yiu-wah, lawmakers Tanya Chan and Shiu Ka Chun, Wong Ho-ming of the League of Social Democrats and Lee Wing-tat of the Hong Kong Democratic Party. If convicted, they might face up to 21 years in jail.

Hong Kong state authorities apparently intend to not only limit the debate and the expression within civil society but also eliminate political adversaries and hurt the capacity of opposition leaders. Arbitrary criminal prosecutions against peaceful academics and organizers always have chilling consequences for both international and local academia and the young generation of students. It is also the first step to disrespect the rights of citizens in general. Hong Kong might open the door to deeper authoritarianism and political intolerance. Sign the petition to show that you support peaceful scholars and activists, demand no prosecution or imprisonment, and request compliance with internationally recognized standards of a free and open society.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Cheng Yuet-ngo,

I urge you to drop all charges for scholars and activists recently arrested for their participation in the Umbrella Movement. This entirely peaceful movement was aligned with public outcry around the world and demanded electoral and other democratic reforms. Such reforms are enshrined in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights and stand as a constitutional promise stipulated in the Basic Law of Hong Kong. There was no reason, therefore, to arrest citizens who were just exercising their right to freedom of expression and association.

Arbitrary criminal prosecutions against peaceful academics and organizers always have chilling consequences for both international and local academia and the young generation of students. It is also the first step to disrespect the rights of citizens in general. It is extremely worrisome that Hong Kong might embark on a journey of authoritarianism. I demand that you divest from this path immediately.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Studio Incendo

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3 Comments

  1. One sign of a corrupt government – they arrest peaceful protesters.

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