Beijing, Oct 26 (EFE).- Hong Kong’s chief executive said Tuesday that “there is no way that one could prove” that human rights organizations such as Amnesty International as well as individuals leaving the city are doing so on account of the National Security Law.
On Monday, Amnesty announced that it will close its two offices in Hong Kong before the end of the year, “driven by Hong Kong’s national security law” imposed by Beijing in 2020.
“Different associations and various individuals have explained or justified their actions on the basis of the National Security Law, but there is no way that one could prove that this is exactly the reason for their taking of such a decision,” Carrie Lam said before the weekly Executive Council meeting in response to a reporter asking for comment on Amnesty’s decision.
“Under the Basic Law (the city’s mini-constitution) Article 27 the freedom of association, the freedom of assembly, the freedom of speech and so on, are being guaranteed. No organizations should be worried about their legitimate operations in Hong Kong, but it has to be done in accordance with the law,” Lam said.
“If there are individuals or organizations that have been using Hong Kong to spread news or to engage in activities that they are worried because these activities are sort of undermining the national security of Hong Kong, then of course they would need to be worried,” she added.
Amnesty said that its local branch in Hong Kong will cease operations on Oct. 31, while the regional office will close by the end of the year.
“This decision, made with a heavy heart, has been driven by Hong Kong’s national security law, which has made it effectively impossible for human rights organizations in Hong Kong to work freely and without fear of serious reprisals from the government,” Anjhula Mya Singh Bais, chair of Amnesty’s International Board, said in a statement on Monday.
According to local news website Hong Kong Free Press, around 50 civil society groups have disbanded this year, following the entry into force, on June 30, 2020, of the contentious law that includes penalties of up to life imprisonment for cases such as secession or collusion with foreign forces.
Investigations have been launched under the law against associations, including the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, which until its dissolution last month, organized Hong Kong’s annual vigil in memory of the Tiananmen Square crackdown in Beijing in 1989. EFE