NGO' strongest opposition to Article 23 legislation

Non-government organizations'
strongest opposition to Article 23 legislation

19 September 2002 


We, a group of non-government organizations representing the interests of women, workers, underprivileged, community, people of different religions and ethnic minorities have come together to express our strongest opposition to the government's decision to enact laws under Article 23 of Basic Law which prohibits subversion, secession, treason and sedition against the Central Government. Instead of using Article 23 to suppress the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong people, the SAR government should strengthen the protection of Hong Kong people's human rights as set out in the International Covenants of Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenants of Economic, Social and Culture Rights.


We are deeply concerned that through enacting such legislation, the SAR government would introduce into Hong Kong the mainland practice of using "national security" as a pretext to silence different opinions, suppress the development of our civil society and deprive Hong Kong people of their basic human rights protection. Our deepest worry is that Article 23 legislation would criminalise free speech. This would be a heavy blow to the freedom of the press and freedom of expression. We strongly condemn any such attempts!


Restrictions, as set out in Article 23, on activities of non-government organizations and their connections with foreign organizations, are unacceptable. Any such restrictions on the autonomy and peaceful activities of NGOs violate the freedom of association and the freedom of speech, both of which are basic human rights. They would narrow the space for people to participate in public affairs and protection of their own rights through NGOs. We believe legislation under Article 23 would create a "white terror". Its chilling effects would damage the healthy development of civil society and divergence in opinions. It poses a serious threat to the freedoms of thought, belief, the press, speech, cultural creativity, information, academic pursuit, assembly, etc. and therefore would fundamentally alter the essence of Hong Kong society.


We find the SAR government's secret discussions with the Central People's Government on legislation under Article 23 before consulting Hong Kong people problematic and disturbing. We deeply regret that such an approach goes against the principle of what is stated in Article 23 of Basic Law that the Hong Kong SAR shall enact such laws "on its own". It also violates of the principle "high degree of autonomy".


We believe there are sufficient laws to address any violence that is potentially harmful to public interest and poses immediate dangers to the community. There is no need to pass any laws under Article 23 to suppress people's rights. We reiterate our strongest opposition to such legislation.


We will fight on together to end such draconian legislation!





Amnesty International Hong Kong Section
April Fifth Action Group
Asia Monitor Resource Center
Asian Human Rights Commission
Association for the Advancement of Feminism
China Labour Bulletin
Christians for Hong Kong Society
Citizens Party
The Frontier
Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China
Hong Kong Catholic Commission for Labour Affairs
Hong Kong Christian Industrial Committee
Hong Kong Christian Institute
Hong Kong Confederation Trade Unions
Hong Kong Human Rights Commission
Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor
Hong Kong Journalists Association
Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union
Hong Kong Women Christian Council
Human Rights In China Hong Kong Office
Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese
Neighbourhood and Workers Service Centre
Rainbow Action
Rainbow Fellowship
Rainbow of Hong Kong
Social Action Workshop
Society for Community Organization
Student Christian Movement of Hong Kong
Unison Hong Kong for Ethnic Equality