On 18 August 2019, about 1.7 million Hong Kong citizens gathered in parks and street to protest against police brutality and to demand for democratic reforms. The protestors were not deterred by the rains on that fateful day; rather, the Hong Kong streets were filled with colourful umbrellas as they marched to express their demands peacefully. With no major clashes between the protestors and the police, the media and the people around the world watched the march declared it as a peaceful assembly.
However, on 16 April 2021, a Hong Kong court ruled that Brother Lee Cheuk Yan, General Secretary of the HKCTU, who organised and participated in the demonstrations on 18 August as well as on 31 August 2019, was sentenced to 18 months in prison. The judgement is clearly a political prosecution aimed at suppressing Hong Kong people’s freedom of expression and assembly and at silencing the critics of the Hong Kong government.
Shoya Yoshida, General Secretary of ITUC-Asia Pacific, said, “The conviction and sentencing of Brother Lee Cheuk Yan and other pro-democracy activists are a manifestation of the collapse of Hong Kong’s democratic system and the rise of a tyrannical government that infringes on internationally recognised human rights. This is unacceptable.”
The ITUC-Asia Pacific strongly condemns the way the Hong Kong national security law quashes the democracy of Hong Kong. It is time for the international trade union movement to stand up and walk with the Hong Kong people in their continuing resistance against political suppression and their relentless fight for democracy.