New Westminster cross-party group launched to promote democracy in Hong Kong
Tuesday, November 5, 2019 6:00 PM
A cross-party group of MPs in the UK has today launched a new group to promote democracy and challenge human rights abuses in Hong Kong. The move marks a strengthening of UK political scrutiny of events in Hong Kong which have seen five months of brutal crackdowns on pro-democracy protesters. (1)
In a historic and unprecedented move to demonstrate solidarity between the British Parliament and the people of Hong Kong, the new All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hong Kong has been established, placing real focus on the Special Administrative Region (SAR) for the first time outside the existing China APPG.
The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hong Kong has held its inaugural meeting in Parliament and will be chaired by the former Leader of the Green Party, Baroness (Natalie) Bennett and the former Cabinet Minister Alistair Carmichael MP, the Chief Whip of the Liberal Democrats.
Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle said:
“We have to stand with Hong Kong. There have been five months of bloody crackdowns on human rights, and just in the last few days we have seen election candidates violently attacked and abused by the police and pro-Beijing groups. Britain needs to stand firm and consider targeted sanctions against those who perpetuate abuses.”
The purpose of the group is “to promote democracy and the rule of law, and to defend human rights in Hong Kong, to share information about Hong Kong, and to nurture relations between the United Kingdom and the people of Hong Kong.”
The news comes in response to recent events including several assaults on election candidates who were peacefully assembling in Hong Kong ahead of planned local elections on November 24th, alongside indiscriminate attacks on citizens.
A letter from the Chinese Embassy sent to members of Parliament recently effectively dismissed the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which promises to uphold freedoms in Hong Kong, saying that it is not an “agreement” despite the fact the international treaty is registered with the United Nations.
“The reason why China discussed these with the UK and included them in the Joint Declaration is purely out of consideration for China-UK friendship and the long-term prosperity and stability in Hong Kong. They are not China’s commitments or obligations to the UK, still less agreements between the two governments.” the letter states.
Lord Alton of Liverpool, a human rights campaigner and a member of the UK House of Lords, said:
“Despite attempts to intimidate not just protesters, but even Parliamentarians we will work across party lines and with our international allies to stand up to the bully. We need the Foreign Secretary to demonstrate international leadership, making it clear that China in breach of the Sino British Declaration on Hong Kong, and speaking out for the rights of the British National Overseas passport holders in Hong Kong. Hong Kong citizens are legitimately seeking the universal suffrage promised to them under the handover agreement between the UK and China.”
A spokesperson for Stand with Hong Kong, an NGO which sent a group of observers to the launch of the APPG, said:
“We are very grateful to politicians across the world for supporting the struggle for democracy in Hong Kong, following global protests by citizens in 47 countries. I hope the UK Government will listen to these calls and consider what concrete pressure can be put on the Chinese authorities to stop the continued slide into violent authoritarianism and ensure free and fair elections.”
- Officers of the APPG on Hong Kong:
Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle (Green)
Rt Hon Alistair Carmichael MP (Lib Dem)
Lord Alton of Liverpool (Crossbench)
Lord Gordon of Strathblane (Labour)
Lord Shinkwin (Conservative)
Bob Seely MP (Conservative)
Steve Double MP (Conservative)
Nigel Evans MP (Conservative)
Andrew Bowie MP (Conservative)
Geraint Davies MP (Labour)
Due to the dissolution of Parliament for the general election, and the consequent suspension of the work of All-Party Parliamentary Groups, those present agreed that they would operate separately during the election period as the Parliamentary Friends of Hong Kong.