An Open Letter to the People of the United Kingdom

Dear Friends,

Hongkongers and the British people have over a century of close relationship, and today we Hongkongers are calling for your help.

After 150 years of British rule, Hong Kong was handed over to China in 1997 under an international treaty, the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The treaty, signed by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the Chinese government, stated that Britain would give away Hong Kong under the condition that Hong Kong’s way of life would remain unchanged for 50 years. We, Hongkongers,were assured by the British and Chinese governments that our city would retain a high degree of autonomy and that our rights and freedoms would be protected during this period under the Declaration.

Since the handover, China has repeatedly breached the Joint Declaration. Hong Kongers’ fundamental freedoms are under attack. Our media outlets have been co-opted, the promised universal suffrage denied, democratically-elected legislators disqualified, peaceful activists jailed, judicial independence eroded, and dissidents 'disappeared’ in Hong Kong without a record of crossing the Hong Kong border but then reappeared in China for show trials. Most recently, an extradition bill was introduced to legalise such alleged abductions. Millions have marched peacefully against the bill only to be met with excessive force from the police.

Beijing officials even deny the validity of the Declaration, dismissing it as a “historical document” with “no practical significance”. Our institutions are crumbling, our rights threatened, our freedom curtailed. And we are terrified.

As signatory of the Declaration, the UK has the right—along with a historical duty and moral obligation—to ensure the fulfilment of this legally-binding international treaty. It is also in the UK’s national interest for the world to know that it would honour its commitments and expects others to do the same.

We are calling for support from all those in the United Kingdom and around the world to stand with the ordinary people of Hong Kong. If you are in the UK, please write to your MPs and urge them to support the following requests:

I. Imposing sanctions on those responsible for or complicit in suppressing human rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Sino-British Joint Declaration; and

II. Committing to protect human rights, freedom of expression and Hong Kong’s democratisation in any post-Brexit agreements with China and Hong Kong.

Hong Kong needs you. Please stand with us.