US Department of State report | HK gov’t actions had a ‘chilling effect’ on political protest

The US Department of State 2017 Human Rights Report also covered developments more broadly across China, including on the mainland, the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and in the Hong Kong SAR.

The Department expressed concern over what it deemed the “most significant human rights issues” in the Hong Kong SAR, which were the Central Government’s encroachment on local autonomy and “government actions that had a chilling effect on political protest and the exercise of free speech.”

In regards to the latter, the report provided the examples of prosecutions against protestors – particularly those were who active in the 2014 Umbrella Movement – and lawsuits used by the government to disqualify opposition lawmakers who advocated for greater democratic representation or full independence from China.

The report also raised concerns about the disappearances of individuals in Hong Kong, citing media reports that suggest they were abducted by agents of the mainland.

Meanwhile, in China, the most significant human rights issues included the “arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of life and executions without due process; extralegal measures such as forced disappearances, including extraterritorial ones; [and] torture and coerced confessions of prisoners.”

The US Department of State also acknowledged that journalists, lawyers, dissidents and activists were harassed and detained by the state, all the while censorship and control of public discourse was on the rise.

As for the Tibet Autonomous Region, which is included under its own sub-heading in the report, the Department highlighted the fact that ethnic Chinese (Han people) CCP members “held the overwhelming majority of top party, government, police, and military positions in the TAR and other Tibetan areas.”

It said that the most significant human rights issues included disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture of political prisoners by government authorities, as well as the government curtailment of the freedoms of speech, religion, association, assembly and movement.

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