‘Say No’ to Anti-subversion Laws in Hong Kong!

Also see NEW UPDATE ON CAMPAIGN February 2003

On December 15, 2002, China Labour Bulletin joined some 20-30,000 protestors in Hong Kong crying out our opposition to the enactment of anti-subversion laws. The mass demonstration was a culmination of the concerted efforts spearheaded by the Civil Human Rights Front, a coalition of more than 40 local and regional non-government organisations of which CLB is a member.

The Front was formed in September soon after the release of the consultation paper on implementing Article 23 of the Basic Law, which states that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR)

“[S]hall enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the Central People's Government, or theft of state secrets, to prohibit foreign political organizations or bodies from conducting political activities in the Region, and to prohibit political organizations or bodies of the Region from establishing ties with foreign political organizations or bodies.”

The consultation paper has drawn severe opposition at home and abroad because of its potential threats to political and civil rights (see http://www.article23.org.hk), particularly in view of concrete cases of political repression in mainland China in the name of “national security”. The government’s refusal to provide a detailed draft in the form of a white bill for further public consultation has drawn intense criticism from the public.

Making references to labour activists in China who have been imprisoned on subversive charges for exercising fundamental workers’ rights, CLB has presented to the Hong Kong government our statement against the enactment of Article 23 and its implications on our work that seeks to promote the independent trade union movement in China.

The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions has also expressed their opposition:

“The Proposals on Article 23 will in effect become a political tool to silent all forms of government opposition including trade unions and workers opposition to government anti-workers and anti-trade union rights policies,” HKCTU says. (Full statement)

In solidarity with its affiliates in Hong Kong, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions denounced the anti-human rights draft law in its Executive Board statement on November 28, 2002. Citing HKCTU General Secretary, Lee Cheuk Yan, in the Executive Meeting, it says,

"Article 23 of the new law would allow the Chinese government to ban any Hong Kong organisation deemed to be 'affiliated' to a mainland organisation classified as a threat to national security. Given that independent trade unions are categorized in this way in mainland China, this law threatens the very existence of free trade unionism in Hong Kong." (Full statement)

‘Consultation’ will come to an end on December 24, and the Hong Kong government is still aiming to push through the enactment by mid-2003 with no plan to offer a detailed draft version of the proposed laws.

CLB calls for the international trade union movement to stand in solidarity with the workers in Hong Kong and China against the enactment of anti-subversion laws which will undermine the freedom of association and international workers’ solidarity in the name of ‘protecting national security’.

We have no deadlines for our struggle. Send your statements to ceo@ceo.gov.hk

China Labour Bulletin


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