July 1st marks the 25th anniversary of the of the handover of Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China (PRC). This date was originally envisioned as the halfway point of 50 years of promised autonomy under the Sino-British Joint Declaration. Instead of looking forward to another 25 years of autonomy for Hong Kong, we have witnessed the dismantling of Hong Kong’s democratic institutions and the unprecedented pressures on the judiciary, the stifling of academic, cultural, and press freedoms, and the coerced disbandment of dozens of civil society groups and news outlets. These actions undermine fundamental freedoms and the rules-based order which serves to preserve global stability.
Today is the second anniversary of National Security Law, the aggressive implementation of which has eliminated any meaningful political opposition in Hong Kong and stifled dissent. As a result, today almost all of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy politicians are either in prison pending trial or in exile overseas. NGOs, trade unions and human rights organizations opposing the Government’s agenda have been forced to disband or leave, for fear of government reprisals. The PRC’s policies toward Hong Kong also have shaken the institutions, rules, and systems that had been the basis of international confidence in Hong Kong – which was the bedrock of its role as an economic hub.
We call on the PRC to act in accordance with the international obligations it willingly undertook. Ahead of the Chief Executive’s inauguration, we reiterate the importance that Hong Kong’s leadership respects the protected rights and freedoms of people in Hong Kong, as provided for in the Basic Law.