Hong Kong Leaders Move to Enact Article 23, An Instrument of Persecution
HONG KONG (FDI) — Four months after announcing the enactment of Article 23 — the controversial law that would grant the Hong Kong government broad powers for monitoring, arresting and imprisoning those deemed a threat by the Mainland government — Hong Kong’s leaders have unveiled the actual legal language of Article 23 for the first time.(Related News)
According to a Feb. 13 New York Times article, Hong Kong leaders have handed the proposed law over to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council and urged the Council to “pass it swiftly.”
On February 15, approximately one hundred Falun Gong practitioners peacefully appealed outside the Legislative Council, calling on the Council and the Government to stop the enactment of the malevolent law under Article 23 of the Basic Law.
In an open statement they issued at the same day, Hong Kong practitioners emphasized that Article 23 legislation is the extension of the policy of genocide Jiang Zemin’s regime has taken towards Falun Gong on Mainland China.
Below is the complete text of the Open Statement:
Let’s Defend Basic Human Rights and Stop the Malevolent Law From Harming Hong Kong
Open Statement: 2003/2/15
Hong Kong Falun Gong practitioners deeply regret the Tung Administration’s decision to legislate Article 23 in spite of strong objection raised by various groups. We are further saddened by the Administration’s complete lack of sincerity and sense of responsibility to the people of Hong Kong and the well being of the territory.
During the so-called consultation period, on key issues such as the proscription mechanism and emergency police powers, authorities either dismissed legitimate concerns or gave casual verbal assurances just to quell public dissatisfaction. The Secretary for Security even openly made discriminatory remarks on certain groups of Hong Kong residents, apparently forgetting that these people are also part of the community the Administration is obligated to serve.
Furthermore, a statement issued by the Hong Kong Association of Falun Dafa condemning the legislation of Article 23 was astonishingly classified as “unidentified” as neither for nor against the legislation. Quite a few other groups opposing the legislation had the same disturbing experience. It is sad enough that the Administration doesn’t genuinely care about the people; it is even worse when the authorities distort public opinions outright.
Although the Administration made a few minor concessions, we agree with many observers that those changes were done with the intention to split up and disintegrate people opposing the legislation. The sinister nature of the legislation remains unchanged as the draft bill retains provisions that would eventually destroy the rule of law and the “one country two systems.”
We wish to reiterate that enacting Article 23 is wrong in principle. Article 23 was added to the draft Basic Law on the insistence of authorities in Beijing in the wake of Tiananmen Massacre. What it aimed to achieve was the effective control of Hong Kong by the totalitarian regime in Mainland instead of genuine peace and harmony of the nation.
The provisions of the draft bill retain the much criticized proscription mechanism. This mechanism that connects Hong Kong to the Mainland definition of “National Security” actually goes beyond what Article 23 calls for. The proscription mechanism would provide a legal venue for the Mainland government to extend its control into Hong Kong over groups unpleasant to the regime. This mechanism is like providing the repressive leaders in Mainland a remote control–with a push of the button the regime will be able suppress those dissident groups at will via the SAR Government.
According to the draft bill, one of the criteria for the banning is that the Hong Kong organization has to be “subordinate” to the proscribed organization. This essentially allows the SAR government to investigate a group–from finance to operation–even when the local group has done nothing wrong. The current administration already vowed to closely monitor Hong Kong Falun Gong about a year ago. This proscription mechanism would make those investigations of a harassing nature even more convenient for the administration.
In addition, when a law-abiding local group is being openly investigated in connection to “national security” under the proscription mechanism, members of the public would naturally refrain from associating with the group out of fear. Even if the group is eventually cleared and proscription is not necessary, the freedom of association is already destroyed. This would also be chillingly consistent with what Secretary for Security said roughly a year ago about restricting the growth of Falun Gong in Hong Kong. In fact, this could be used to restrict the growth of any dissident groups by alienating them from the community.
Jiang Zemin, the leader of the repressive regime, was sued overseas for committing genocide against Falun Gong practitioners in Mainland. The legislation of Article 23 will pave the way for the extension of the genocide into Hong Kong. We absolutely do not wish to see the Hong Kong SAR government serving as an accomplice in such a heinous crime.
However, the draft provisions state that Secretary for Security will be given the power to determine whether the proscription is necessary, and that the open decree issued by Mainland regime would be taken as no further evidence needed. The current administration has repeatedly shown its willingness to please Beijing at the expense of Hong Kong people. It is the same administration that gave the irresponsible and libelous remarks concerning Falun Gong. It is obvious that such a biased administration is incapable of making sound and independent judgments on issues involving Mainland.
Since the handover, there has been steady and significant erosion of civil liberties in Hong Kong. Over the course of time, the Administration has reserved greater and greater discretion to itself as well. From another perspective, the introduction of Article 23 legislation also reflects years of influence the dictatorship in Beijing has managed to extend to Hong Kong through various means. If we don’t resolutely stop the government from legislating the evil law of Article 23, the influence of Beijing will completely take over the rule of law in Hong Kong. Then, the legislation of Article 23 will indeed be the beginning of the end for Hong Kong as a free society ruled by law.
It is our unshirkable historic responsibility to stand up to defend our innate human rights and stop the evil law from destroying Hong Kong.
Hong Kong Falun Gong Practitioners
Contacts: Sharon Xu +852-9263-4150, Sophie Xiao +852-9108-2057