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Amnesty International Says China Has Created ‘Human Rights Emergency’ in Hong Kong

Supporters of pro-democracy activists hold flashlights as a prison van carrying some of the 47 pro-democracy activists charged under the national security law arrives at Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre, in Hong Kong, March 4, 2021.

Amnesty International says China has created a “human rights emergency” in Hong Kong since imposing a strict national security law last year.

The human rights watchdog issued a lengthy report Wednesday on the effects of the law on the one-year anniversary of its approval by Beijing in response to the massive and sometimes violent anti-government protests in 2019.

Hundreds of people, many of them pro-democracy politicians and activists, have been arrested and jailed under the law, which targets anyone authorities suspected of carrying out terrorism, separatism, subversion of state power or collusion with foreign forces. Among those detained include media tycoon Jimmy Lai, whose company, Next Digital, was forced to shut down the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily last week after 500 police officers raided its headquarters, arrested several executives and froze millions of dollars of its assets.

In a lengthy report on the law’s impact on the city’s judicial system, based on court judgements, court hearing notes and interviews with activists, Amnesty concluded that the law has been used to “carry out a wide range of human rights violations.”

“In one year, the National Security Law has put Hong Kong on a rapid path to becoming a police state and created a human rights emergency for the people living there,” said Yamini Mishra, the Asia-Pacific regional director for the human rights watchdog,

Mishra also said the law “has infected every part of Hong Kong society and fomented a climate of fear that forces residents to think twice about what they say, what they tweet and how they live their lives."

“Ultimately, this sweeping and repressive legislation threatens to make the city a human rights wasteland increasingly resembling mainland China.”