Hong Kong Election Observation Project – Statement on the Mass Arrests of Organizers and Participants of Pan-Democratic 35+ Civil Voting

Up until 12nn on January 6, 2021, no less than 52 citizens associated with the Democratic 35+ Civil Voting (also known as the pan-democrats primary) in July 2020 were arrested on suspicion of violating Hong Kong’s National Security Law (HKNSL).

Dr. Chung Kim-wah, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (HKPORI) which provided technical support for the primary, stated in an interview this morning that the sole purpose of the Civil Voting was for the internal coordination between pan-democratic candidates before the Legislative Council Election originally scheduled for early September 2020, HKPORI’s only role was operational.

The Election Observation Project (HKEOP) would like to emphasize that the right to free and fair elections has long been held by Hong Kong people as one of the core values and must be respected. In point of fact, such electoral rights are embedded in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Basic Law and supported by a wide range of legal instruments. Article 26 of the Basic Law states “Permanent residents of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall have the right to vote and the right to stand for election in accordance with law”; while Article 39 stipulates that “The provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and international labour conventions as applied to Hong Kong shall remain in force and shall be implemented through the laws of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.” Moreover, Article 4 of the HKNSL clearly states that “Human rights shall be respected and protected in safeguarding national security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The rights and freedoms, including the freedoms of speech, of the press, of publication, of association, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration, which the residents of the Region enjoy under the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as applied to Hong Kong, shall be protected in accordance with the law.”

HKEOP is of the view that the mass arrests this morning further curtail the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong’s civil society, academic institutions and ordinary citizens, this could only serve to deepen the crisis of governance that has plagued the city. Any blatant abuse of powers by the authorities under the HKNSL to silence dissent should be strongly condemned.

6 January 2021

 

Download our Statement (pdf file, Chinese + English)