While the world is still dealing with the global coronavirus pandemic, the Chinese government has stepped up its actions against opposition in Hong Kong in direct violation of international human rights law.  The BSA condemns police violence against peaceful protesters, the arbitrary detention of pro-democracy leaders in Hong Kong and the National Security Bill passed today by China’s National People’s Congress.

We are all familiar with the escalating crisis. Between June and November 2019, millions of Hong Kongers took part in peaceful demonstrations, thousands of protesters were arrested and hundreds gravely injured. In October 2019, a police officer shot at point blank range and critically injured an 18-year-old student. In November 2019, the police besieged Chinese University and Polytechnic University, where many students had taken refuge. Early reports indicated that 3000 canisters of tear gas and 3,300 rubber bullets were fired during the siege and at least 1,000 arrests were made, including first aiders who attempted to treat injured students.

In the midst of lockdown, on 18 April 2020, 15 high-profile politicians, lawyers and activists were arrested for their part in “organising and taking part in unlawful assemblies”. China’s growing impatience reached a new high today, 28 May 2020, with China’s National People’s Congress by-passing the legislative process in Hong Kong to endorse a new National Security Law for Hong Kong. This bans any expressions of opposition against the Chinese Communist Party or the Hong Kong government. This puts an end to the rule of law in Hong Kong, and to the civil rights we all hold dear: freedom of speech, press and assembly. We oppose these actions in the strongest possible terms.

Susan Halford, President of the British Sociological Association
Sin Yi Cheung, member of the British Sociological Association, Cardiff University