EU High Representative calls for opposition activists to be released following crackdown in Hong Kong
On 6 January 2021, authorities in Hong Kong arrested more than 50 pro-democracy activists and lawmakers organising primary elections to select opposition candidates for the next legislative elections. The arrests were made pursuant to the controversial National Security Law imposed by the Chinese Government last year. However that Law is deemed not to be in conformity with China’s international commitments under the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 or with the Hong Kong Basic Law by the Council of the EU.
The authorities in Hong Kong have described the arrests as targeting a subversive operation of people suspected of overthrowing the city’s government, as reported by the BBC.
In August, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, had called for the Legislative Council elections (already postponed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic) to be conducted in a free and democratic environment, with full respect for the civil and political rights of the opposition.
In a more recent, and his latest statement, the High Representative calls for the immediate release of those who have been arrested and calls for the respect of the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle. He recalls that the arrests penalise political activity that should be entirely legitimate in any political system that respects basic democratic principles, and that the National Security Law is indeed being used to stifle political pluralism in Hong Kong.
Read the full declaration here.