We’ve uncovered gross human rights violations in Hong Kong. The UK must act

Sarah Champion
© David Woolfall/CC BY 3.0

Hong Kong women are bravely speaking out about the abuses they have faced at the hands of their police. A new inquiry report published by the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on Hong Kong, for which I am vice-chair, reveals the human rights abuses that many have faced across the city. Two testimonies particularly stay with me.

A doctor, speaking to the APPG for the purpose of this inquiry on condition of anonymity, explained in her submission: “On 7th October 2019, a nine-month pregnant woman was arrested in Tuen Mun, and she requested to be sent to the hospital as she showed signs that she was in labour. The police first rejected it, and she was sent to the maternity ward of Tuen Mun hospital much later. While she was putting on a patient gown and preparing to be checked, a male officer entered the maternity ward despite an attempt by medical staff members to block his access.”

She went on to detail other shocking denials of dignity and basic healthcare in Hong Kong: “First aiders on the site revealed that the police have forbidden them from assessing wounded protesters. The first injured protester arrived at the hospital, which is a ten-minute walk from the site, one hour later. The last injured protester arrived at the hospital, which is a 30-minute drive from the site, five hours later.” Denying protesters the right to medical attention, and blocking the access that medical professionals should have to the injured, breaches numerous international human rights laws for which Hong Kong must be held accountable.

One humanitarian worker, also protected by anonymity, reported being detained while leaving a site of protest after attending to the injured. Despite displaying documents that proved her status, her hands were tied behind her back for more than four hours and she was made to sit on the ground for more than an hour. She was later detained for 28 hours without explanation in a seriously overcrowded police cell, simply for doing her job and attending to the injured.

Women like this brave doctor and humanitarian worker are speaking up. Many have come forward to become a central part of our APPG inquiry report and to give us a strong understanding of the abuses that many Hongkongers have been subjected to. We call upon parliament to seriously consider our recommendations, based on the gross human rights violations we have uncovered.

Hongkongers deserve to feel safe. As signatories with China to the joint declaration, the UK has a special responsibility to act – as well as the specific responsibility to the 33,733 UK nationals resident in the city. Thanks to those who have submitted evidence to our inquiry, we now have solid evidence of some of the atrocities that have occurred throughout Hong Kong. These experiences and corroborating testimonies cannot be ignored. It is time for the UK to act.

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