Solidarity with LEE Cheuk Yan and Democratic Trade Unions in Hong Kong

The ITUC and the Council of Global Unions (CGU) stand firmly in solidarity with LEE Cheuk Yan, general secretary of the HKCTU. Lee was arrested on 28 February and 18 April 2020 and faces nine criminal charges for organising and taking part in unauthorised assemblies during the anti-extradition and democratic movement in 2019 and in 2020. His first trial starts on 16 February. More than 10,000 protesters in the democratic movement have been arrested since 2019 and prosecutions are on-going.

Despite year-long popular protests for democracy in Hong Kong, the Chinese authorities pushed through the adoption of the National Security Law (NSL), enacted by the Hong Kong government on 30 June 2020. The CGU condemns the NSL as it seriously undermines the One Country Two Systems principle and poses tangible threats to fundamental freedoms and organising legitimate trade union activities. The National Security Office set up by China is not bound by Hong Kong laws, and cases can be transferred to Chinese jurisdiction, bypassing the local judiciary.

Apart from postponing the Legislative Council election in September 2020, the PRC National People’s Congress imposed national security criteria to disqualify elected lawmakers in Hong Kong. This led to the removal of four lawmakers who were accused of seeking foreign interference to support democracy and freedom in Hong Kong. The legislative body is left with no opposition. Mass resignation of the remaining pro-democracy lawmakers followed in protest soon after.

On 6 January, three trade unionists who took part in the primary election of pro-democracy candidates held last year were arrested by the national security police for alleged subversion of state power. The ITUC and the ITF condemn the assault on fundamental rights and freedoms and demand the withdrawal of the charges against Carol Ng, chair of HKCTU and ex-leader of the British Airway cabin crew union, Winnie Yu; chair of the Hospital Authority Employees Alliance, LAU Hoi Man of the Hong Kong Allied Health Professionals and Nurse Association, and 50 other democratic activists in the mass arrest.

By now the vaguely defined national security crimes of “terrorism”, “secession”, “subversion of state power” and “collusions with foreign forces” have been vigorously used by the Chinese national security apparatus in Hong Kong to arbitrarily arrest one hundred democratic leaders, activists, students, media owners and lawyers and to impose surveillance, a freeze on properties and cyber censorship.

The NSL has created a chilling atmosphere under which there is no guarantee for unions to freely organise activities, participate in social dialogue on social and economic affairs, or express trade union opinions without fear and harassment. The New Union for Civil Servants has decided to disband itself as the government presses through the mandatory oath of allegiance on 180,000 civil servants to allow terminations based on vague national security criteria. Professional trade unions of teachers, healthcare workers, journalists and social workers denounce the academic censorships, teacher de-registrations, police derecognition of press union accreditations, prosecutions against journalists and social workers, and call for a stop to the encroachment on the professional conduct and rights of their members.

  • #SolidarityWithHKUnion
  • #WeLoveFreedominHK

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