HONG KONG HUMAN RIGHTS MONITOR

Room 603, Car Po Commercial Building, 18 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, Hong Kong

Chairperson: Rev Chu Yiu Ming   Deputy Chairpersons: Philip J. Dykes, S.C., Q.C. & Raymond Tsui   Secretary: Ip Tan Ching   Treasurer: Lai Wing Yiu
Founder members
: Johannes Chan   John Kamm   Phillip Ross   Ho Hei Wah   Andrew Byrnes   Charles Mok   Paul Harris   Christine Loh   Dr Stephen Ng
Director:  Law Yuk Kai      Research Officer:  Zorian Wong      Administrative Coordinator:  Kit Chan
 

For Immediate Release

International Day of Tolerance

 

(Hong Kong -- 16 November 2001)

Today is the United Nations designated International Day of Tolerance.  It is marked today by a press conference by the Falun Gong followers in protest against the police harassment of their demonstration outside the Liaison Office. The harassment includes deploying their officers in buildings in the neighbourhood for the first time looking for opponents to the demonstration.  The Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor urges the SAR Government to practice and promote tolerance in Hong Kong. 

 

A principal characteristic of a responsible government is one that is itself tolerant and fosters tolerance and protects its residents from prejudice and bias.  In a society with deep-rooted discrimination against racial minority groups, mainland immigrants, migrant workers and homosexuals, to name but a few, the SAR government plays an even more important role in protecting them from any kind of discrimination.

 

"Hong Kong witnessed a decline in tolerance in its public authorities as compared to those immediately preceding the Handover," said Law Yuk-kai, Director of Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor.  "In many cases, the authorities fanned discrimination against certain sectors, like the right of abode claimants, Falun Gong followers and certain activist groups.  Public power was used to institute propaganda and adopt measures to infringe the rights of these 'unwelcome people'."

 

The police have a key role to play.  Falun Gong followers were forced to demonstrate out of sight and hearings of Chinese leaders visiting Hong Kong.  Their peaceful demonstrations outside the Liaison Office of the Chinese Government faced frequent harassment.  Followers demonstrating at a place hitherto designated as a demonstration area have been required to leave.  Staging a protest on part of a wide pavement leaving ample room for demonstration was treated as obstruction while the police putting up barricades to block protestors was not a problem.  The latest measures by them is sending officers around in the neighbourhood trying to find opponents, probably as excuse to interfere with their protest there.  Even the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department used a Public Health regulation to stop them from posting banner or even displaying of handheld banners in front of the Liaison Office.  It is a violation of the basic right of freedom of assembly and freedom of expression guaranteed by the Basic Law and Bill of Rights.  The labeling of the Falun Gong spiritual movement as an "evil cult" without any legal basis by the Chief Executive and the Secretary for Security is a totally unjustified attack on the faith of their followers.  Such propaganda has also demonstrated to the general public that this group is not welcome.  It confirmed that the government has singled out demonstrators with political considerations.

 

The Court of Final Appeal's ruling in favour of the right of abode claimants in January 1999 triggered the government propaganda machinery to fan discrimination against Mainlanders.  The Chief Executive succeeded in creating an atmosphere hostile to mainlanders making him easier to seek Beijing's support to overturn the Court's  ruling and deprived the claimants' right of abode.

 

Racial minority groups have played and continue to play a major role in making Hong Kong a success.  However, the government ignores the racial minority and refuses to even provide the minimal protection by passing legislation to prohibit racial discrimination. The Government's mother tongue policy is in singular form (not mother tongues) without regard to the multicultural character of our metropolitan community.  If Hong Kong is to present itself to the world as an open, vibrant and tolerant society it must protect and care for all of its residents.

 

Hong Kong Human Right Monitor calls on the SAR Government to stop their political intolerance.  The Government should also endeavour to promote and encourage respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sexual orientation, political affiliation or religious belief and thereby foster tolerance in the SAR.

 

 Enquiry:  2811 4488 or  97883394       LAW Yuk Kai, director (總幹事 羅沃啟)