Brussels (Brussels Morning) Global rights watchdog Amnesty International announced on Monday that it will be shutting down its Hong Kong offices due to the Chinese province’s new National Security Law, which, it argues, poses a threat to its staff.
AI Board Chair Anjhula Mya Singh Bais said the decision to close the two offices was made with a heavy heart, but that it was necessary after the introduction of the Beijing-imposed national security law.
“It has made it effectively impossible for human rights organisations in Hong Kong to work freely and without fear of serious reprisals from the government”, Singh Bais said. The group has been present in the city for more than 40 years, having both a local office and a regional office in the former British colony.
The departure of Amnesty marks a new low point in the recent deterioration of human rights in the city so far. The new National Security Law was imposed by mainland China after citizens held anti-government protests in 2019, opposing a proposed law that would facilitate easy extradition of suspects from the city to the mainland.
In the subsequent crackdown on dissenting voices, the city outlawed anything the Communist Party could interpret as secession, subversion, collusion with foreign forces and terrorism – including journalists’ contacts with foreign diplomats and organisations.
The law has since been used to outlaw peaceful protest, to prosecute more than 70 prominent pro-democracy activists, to shut down the city’s most outspoken pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily and to arrest its editors.
Dozens of other, lower-profile rights and civil society groups have disbanded in the city, hoping to evade a national security investigation, many having been labelled as “subversive” by Chinese state media. In many cases, the law has even been applied retroactively to acts committed before it came into power.