Amnesty closing offices in Hong Kong over national security law

Amnesty closing offices in Hong Kong over national security law
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Amnesty International will close its Hong Kong office after a security law in China rendered it "effectively impossible" for the group to complete its work without risking retaliation. 

The international human rights group will close its local office at the end of the month and its regional office in the area at the end of 2021, according to a statement published Monday.

Amnesty noted that its closures come as at least 35 other groups have also stopped operations since China's national security law took effect in June 2020. 

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"This decision, made with a heavy heart, has been driven by Hong Kong’s national security law, which has made it effectively impossible for human rights organizations in Hong Kong to work freely and without fear of serious reprisals,” Anjhula Mya Singh Bais, the chair of Amnesty’s international board, said in the statement about the decision.

China's national security law was aimed at combating “terrorist activities” and “collusion with foreign or external forces to endanger national security,” among other issues. However, the law's loose definition of “national security” has been used to suppress freedom of expression and assembly in the country, Amnesty said. 

"The environment of repression and perpetual uncertainty created by the national security law makes it impossible to know what activities might lead to criminal sanctions," Singh Bais added in Monday's statement.

She also noted that the law has been used to prevent people "from singing political songs" and "discussing human rights issues in the classroom."

In June 2021, Amnesty published a report about the "rapid deterioration of human rights in Hong Kong" a year after the national security law went into effect.

“There are difficult days ahead for human rights in Hong Kong, but Amnesty International will continue to stand with the people of Hong Kong," Amnesty International's Secretary General Agnes Callamard said in the statement. "We will fight for their rights to be respected and we will be vigilant in our scrutiny of those who abuse them."