Joint Statement to Oppose Article 23

March 22, 2024

We, the undersigned organizations, firmly oppose the passage of the Safeguarding National Security Bill, commonly referred to as “Article 23,” set to be enforced in Hong Kong this Saturday, March 23. We condemn the Hong Kong S.A.R. government’s plan to dismantle Hong Kong’s autonomy under the guise of “national security,” which further exacerbates the existing crackdown on human rights.

Article 23’s vague and broad definitions of crimes adversely impact not only individuals facing political arrests and prosecutions, but also everyone else in Hong Kong. The law opens the door to further arbitrary arrests and detentions while escalating censorship, creating a global chilling effect.

Article 23 is designed to impact an unprecedentedly wide range of people. The law, for example, defines the crime of “espionage” as applicable to those who, “with intent to endanger national security,” obtain, collect, or possess information that is “directly or indirectly useful to an external force” (clause 41). It also broadly criminalizes acts with “seditious intention,” which includes an intention to bring anyone in Hong Kong “into hatred, contempt or disaffection” against the Chinese and Hong Kong governments, institutions or constitutional order. With such low thresholds for prosecutions, Article 23 could provide a pretext for even more politically-motivated prosecutions and convictions.

Article 23 exacerbates the persecution of political prisoners and compounds the existing human-rights violations under the National Security Law (N.S.L.). The new legislation reinforces a separate judicial process for political cases, which involves appointed national security police officers in addition to handpicked prosecutors and judges, and deprives suspects of important procedural protections that were once available under Hong Kong’s legal system. Political prisoners charged under the N.S.L. have already been routinely denied bail, subjected to months of pre-trial detention, and deprived of the right to a jury trial. The new law further undermines these procedural rights by allowing the police to not only extend the period of detention without charge from the current 48 hours to a further 14 days, but also limit suspects’ access to counsel.

In addition to those facing political persecution, international businesses and Hong Kongers not directly involved in politics will also feel the impact of Article 23, as the law intensifies existing censorship. Following the N.S.L., the Hong Kong government forced major media outlets, such as Stand News and Apple Daily, to shut down. With the passage of Article 23, investigative journalism and reporting on “sensitive” political issues – given the broad definitions of “state secrets” and “sedition” – become even riskier. Article 23’s chilling effect on the freedom of expression extends to the Hong Kong diaspora globally, as the new law applies to Hong Kong residents anywhere in the world. The law’s extraterritorial implications will undoubtedly set the stage for heightened transnational repression.

The S.A.R. government expedited the passage of Article 23 despite mounting international pressure to uphold human rights. The U.N. Human Rights Committee issued a list of recommendations in 2022, urging the S.A.R. government to prioritize human rights. During the Universal Periodic Review on China in January this year, eight U.N. member states also called on the People’s Republic of China to repeal or review the N.S.L. Despite these clear and urgent appeals, the S.A.R. government opted to expedite the passage of Article 23 – clearing all legislative hurdles within 50 days of the initial public consultation.

We call on governments around the world and the international community to:
1. Impose sanctions on Hong Kong and Chinese officials responsible for undermining the rule of

law in Hong Kong, particularly those involved in the passage of the two pieces of “national

security” legislation;
2. Review the status of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices globally, with an eye towards

shuttering their operations;
3. Offer asylum and other humanitarian pathways and provide temporary travel documents to Hong

Kong human-rights defenders, especially those who have been labeled by S.A.R. authorities as “absconders” and are likely to face passport cancellation in the near future.

Signatories:

  1. 29 Principles
  2. AfricaHongKongFrance (AHKF)
  3. Arizona for Hong Kong
  4. ARTICLE 19
  5. Asian Lawyers Network (ALN)
  6. Assembly of Citizens’ Representatives, Hong Kong
  7. Association of Cosmopolitan Culture Action Taichung
  8. Association of Hong Kongers in Western Australia
  9. Athenai Institue
  10. Aus-Hong Kong Connex Inc
  11. Australia Capital Hong Kong Association
  12. Australia Hong Kong Link
  13. Australia Tibet Council
  14. Australian and New Zealand Alliance for Victims of the Chinese Communist Regime
  15. Bay Area Friends of Tibet
  16. Befria Hongkong (Sweden)
  17. Birmingham HongKongers
  18. Blossom Community HK CIC
  19. Bonham Tree Aid CIC
  20. Bristol Hongkongers
  21. Britons in Hong Kong
  22. Campaign For Uyghurs
  23. Canada-Hong Kong Link
  24. Center For Uyghur Studies
  25. Chicago Solidarity with Hong Kong (CSHK)
  26. Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD)
  27. Coalition of Students Resisting China
  28. Committee For Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation
  29. Committee to Protect Journalists
  30. Czechs Support Tibet
  31. Democracy for Hong Kong (D4HK)
  32. Dialogue China
  1. European Belarus Foundation
  2. European Values Center for Security Policy
  3. Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.
  4. Finnish Hongkongers
  5. Flow HK
  6. Formosan Association for Human Rights
  7. Frankfurt Stands With Hong Kong
  8. Free Tibet
  9. Free Uyghur Now
  10. Freedom House
  11. Freiheit für Hongkong e.V. (FfHK)
  12. Friends of Hong Kong (Calgary)
  13. Fundacíon Para la Libertad de Nicaragua
  14. Germany Stands with Hong Kong
  15. Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities
  16. Grupo de Apoio ao Tibete – Portugal
  17. HKersUnited
  18. Hong Kong Aid
  19. Hong Kong Affairs Association of Berkeley
  20. Hong Kong Committee in Norway
  21. Hong Kong Democracy Council
  22. Hongkonger Community Center (HKCC Brisbane)
  23. Hongkonger in Deutschland e.V.
  24. Hongkongers in Britain (HKB)
  25. HongKongers in Leeds
  26. Hong Kongers in San Diego
  27. Hong Kongers in San Francisco Bay Area
  28. Hong Kong Forum, Los Angeles
  29. Hong Kong International Alliance Brisbane (HKIA Brisbane)
  30. Hong Kong Media Overseas (HKMO)
  31. Hong Kong Outlanders in Taiwan
  32. Hong Kong Scots
  33. Hong Kong Social Action Movements in Boston
  34. Hong Kong Student Advocacy Group – NYU
  35. Hong Kong Watch
  36. Human Rights in China
  37. Human Rights Network for Tibet and Taiwan (HRNTT)
  38. Humanitarian China
  39. Humanosh USA
  40. India Tibet Friendship Society NAGPUR
  41. Internationale Gesellschaft für Menschenrechte (IGFM)
  42. International Tibet Network
  43. Khmer Movement for Democracy
  44. KONGcentric
  1. Lady Liberty Hong Kong (LLHK)
  2. Lamp of Liberty
  3. Le Comité pour la Liberté à Hong-Kong
  4. Liberté au Tibet (France)
  5. Lion Rock Café (New York)
  6. Manchester Stands With Hong Kong
  7. McMaster Stands With Hong Kong
  8. New School for Democracy (NSD Taiwan)
  9. New Yorkers Supporting Hong Kong (NY4HK)
  10. North America Taiwanese Professors’ Association (NATPA)
  11. Northern California Hong Kong Club
  12. North East Hongkongers Club – U.K.
  13. Norwegian Tibet Committee
  14. Nottingham Stands With Hong Kong
  15. NYC852HKER
  16. Ontario Hong Kong Youth Action
  17. PMGI [Peace Media & Good Governance Institute]
  18. Power to Hongkongers
  19. Reading UK Stands with HK
  20. Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
  21. Santa Barbara Friends of Tibet
  22. Scottish Hongkongers
  23. SEArious For HKG (Seattle)
  24. South Sudan Democratic Alliance (SSDA)
  25. Southampton Hongkongers
  26. Stand with HK@JPN
  27. Students for a Free Tibet International
  28. Students for a Free Tibet – Boston
  29. Students for a Free Tibet- India
  30. Students for a Free Tibet – Japan
  31. Students for a Free Tibet – Middletown High School
  32. Students for a Free Tibet – Minnesota
  33. Students for a Free Tibet – New York/New Jersey
  34. Students for a Free Tibet -Toronto
  35. Students for Hong Kong
  36. Sutton Hong Kong Culture & Art Society
  37. Swedish Tibet Committee
  38. Swiss Tibetan Friendship Association
  39. Taiwan Association for Human Rights
  40. Taiwan East Turkestan Association (TETA)
  41. Taiwan Forever Association
  42. Taiwan Hong Kong Association
  43. Taiwan Labour Front
  44. Taiwan Youth Association for Transitional Justice and Kiōng-Seng
  1. Taiwanese Association In Japan
  2. Texans Supporting Hong Kong (TX4HK)
  3. Tibet Initiative Deutschland e.V.
  4. Tibet Justice Center
  5. Tibet Solidarity
  6. Tibet Support Group Ireland
  7. Tibet Support Committee, Denmark
  8. Tibetan Youth Association in Europe (TYAE)
  9. Uniting HongKongers (Australia)
  10. Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO)
  11. US Hongkongers Club
  12. Uyghur Academy International
  13. Uyghur American Association
  14. Uyghur Center for Human Rights and Democracy
  15. Uyghur Human Rights Project
  16. Vancouver Activists of Hong Kong (VAHK)
  17. Vancouver Hong Kong Forum Society
  18. Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement (VSSDM)
  19. Victoria Hongkongers Association (Australia)
  20. Washingtonians Supporting Hong Kong (DC4HK)
  21. We The Hongkongers
  22. Winnipeg Hong Kong Concern
  23. World Federation of Taiwanese Associations
  24. World Liberty Congress
  25. World Uyghur Congress

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Joint Statement to Oppose Article 23

March 22, 2024 We, the undersigned organizations, firmly oppose the passage of the Safeguarding National Security Bill, commonly referred to as “Article 23,” set to be enforced in