Statement: Withdrawal of the extradition bill is "far too little, far too late". Hong Kong Watch urges the government to meet other demands to resolve the crisis
The announcement by Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam that she will propose the withdrawal of the controversial extradition bill is welcome but is "far too little, far too late", Hong Kong Watch said today.
Hong Kong Police brutality and arbitrary arrests of peaceful demonstrators have reached a severe and shocking level, leading to increasing concerns that Hong Kong is in grave danger of becoming a police state. This has led some critics of the Hong Kong government to suggest that an extradition bill has become unnecessary, because the Hong Kong Police is carrying out the Chinese Communist Party regime's campaign of repression on its behalf.
For Hong Kong to heal, recover and resolve the crisis, Hong Kong Watch urges:
1. The Hong Kong government to announce a full, immediate, independent inquiry into police brutality with enforcement powers for dismissal and prosecution of those officers who used disproportionate force and carried out acts of brutal violence
2. The Hong Kong government to immediately release all peaceful protesters currently in detention and end the Hong Kong Police's campaign of completely disproportionate use of force and extreme violence and brutality
3. The Hong Kong government should recognise that the key problem at the heart of the crisis is no longer the extradition bill, but the current political system as a whole and the lack of trust and sense of disenfranchisement on the part of Hong Kong people. The Hong Kong government should announce a package of democratic political reforms including full universal suffrage for all Legislative Council searts in the 2020 election and full universal suffrage for the Chief Executive election in 2022.
Benedict Rogers, co-founder and Chair of Hong Kong Watch, called on the international community, and in particular the British government, to act urgently to resolve the crisis and defend Hong Kong's freedoms and human rights. "The incredible courage and determination of Hong Kong people to fight for their rights and freedom has been witnessed by the world, and inspired us all. Hong Kong is now the new frontline in the battle between freedom and tyranny, and Hong Kong people look to the international community, and especially the United Kingdom, to put pressure on the government of the People's Republic of China to respect Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy promised in the Sino British Joint Declaration, and on the government of Hong Kong to respond constructively to the demands of Hong Kong people. Only then can Hong Kong have a chance healing and moving forward. Britain has a particular legal and moral responsibility to speak out, and we therefore urge the United Kingdom to lead, working with allies to call for these steps to be implemented."