A human rights group based in the United Kingdom has pledged not to remain silent after the government of Hong Kong demanded that he shut down his website and accused him of endangering the national security of China.
While China heavily restricts the internet on the mainland, Hong Kong generally does not censor the web, allowing residents to access sites and content that could be critical of China. Beijing.
However, Monday’s announcement means that Hong Kong Watch is the first overseas advocacy group to confirm that it is under attack under a sweeping national security law that Beijing imposed to crack down on dissent in the territory in mid-2020. 2020.
“By threatening a UK-based NGO with financial sanctions and jail time for simply reporting on the human rights situation in Hong Kong, this letter exemplifies why Hong Kong’s national security law is so dangerous,” he said. the group’s chief executive, Benedict Rogers.
Rogers, who was banned from visiting Hong Kong in 2017, added: “We will not be silenced by an authoritarian security apparatus that, through a mix of senseless brutality and ineptitude, has triggered rapid mass migration out of the city and closed civil society”.
Hong Kong’s security bureau accused the group of “colluding with foreign forces to endanger national security,” according to an email sent on March 10 that Hong Kong Watch published in full on its website Monday.
The crime, one of four main offenses under the security law, carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
“Criminal investigation reveals that ‘Hong Kong Watch’ has engaged in… pressuring foreign countries to impose sanctions or blockades” against China and Hong Kong, the security bureau said in its email.
Hong Kong police demand website shutdown
The police chief of Hong Kong it also sent out a notice the same day demanding that the group remove all posts from its website.
“Failure to do so will result in further action being taken… without notice,” the email warned.
Hong Kong police said on Monday they are not commenting on specific cases, but added that the public can continue to use the internet “legally”.
Founded in 2017, Hong Kong Watch monitors “threats to Hong Kong’s basic freedoms, rule of law and autonomy.”
The national security law is one of many seismic political and legal changes seen in Hong Kong in recent years as China reshapes the former British colony in its own authoritarian image.
Hong Kong Watch has the support of several politicians in the United Kingdom, including Hong Kong’s last colonial-era governor, Chris Patten.
Since last month, the rights group’s website has not been accessible in the territory without the use of a virtual private network (VPN).
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