Religious leaders, dignitaries call on Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to stop police brutality

Published 02 January 2020  |  
(Photo: REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha)
People hold up signs and a mobile phone as they gather at West Kowloon Law Courts Building to show their support to 96 anti-government protesters who were arrested days ago in Hong Kong, China, October 2, 2019.

With fresh protests ringing in the new year in Hong Kong, parliamentarians, dignitaries and faith leaders have urged Chief Executive Carrie Lam to act on police brutality.

In an open letter signed by 40 leaders from 18 countries, the leaders express "grave concerns at the recent escalation of police brutality over the Christmas period".

An independent inquiry into police brutality is one of the demands of the pro-democracy protesters.

The letter has been signed by former Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali, President of the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences Cardinal Charles Muang Bo, former head of the All India Catholic Union Dr John Dayal, ex Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, previous Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow, Lord Alton of Liverpool, and the EU's Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief Jan Figel.

The letter urges Lam to use her authority and responsibility to "seek genuine ways forward out of this crisis by addressing the grievances of Hong Kong people, bringing the Hong Kong Police Force under control, ensuring accountability and an end to impunity".

It also asks that she begin a process of democratic political reform following December's district council elections, which saw an unprecedented turnout and pro-democracy candidates sweep the board.

"Hong Kong is a great world city, a major international financial and trading centre, and an important gateway to China and the rest of Asia. It would be a tragedy if it loses this role and gains a reputation for repression," the letter reads.

"Failure to seize this opportunity will result in further human suffering, fear, violence and instability and the tragic decline of your great city.

"It may also result in even more vocal calls for targeted Magnitsky sanctions against officials in Hong Kong directly or indirectly responsible for human rights violations.

"It is our hope that you choose a path of constructive and meaningful reform which makes reconciliation and healing possible."

Last month, former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams joined with Lord Singh of Wimbledon, chairman of Finsbury Park Mosque Mohammed Kozbar, and the head of Humanists UK Andrew Copson, among others, in calling on Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab to uphold Britain's responsibilities Sino-British Joint Declaration.

"We are leaders and members of religious and freedom of belief organisations and we stand collectively with Hong Kong," they write.

"We strive to uphold human rights, individual liberty, protection from violence and the rule of law: the fundamental principles that Hongkongers face losing in their fight for freedom. We stand with them and urge you to do the same.

"The UK government has so far stood back and hoped the crisis in Hong Kong will simply resolve itself. But hoping is not good enough.

"We need this government to take concrete action, rather than just 'speaking up' for the people of Hong Kong who are suffering during this unrest."

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