The logo of Next Media and Apple Daily are seen on their headquarters in Hong Kong (Source: AFP)

The Human Rights Foundation (HRF), in collaboration with the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong (CFHK), sent a joint letter to United States Congress urging them to impose sanctions upon Hong Kong individuals and Chinese government officials involved in the raids and closure of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy newspaper, Apple Daily.

The letter was co-signed by eight civil s society organizations and sent to the Commissioners of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC).

Since 1997, under the “one country, two systems” framework, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has progressively eroded Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms. Since the implementation of the national security law two years ago, the CCP has severely undermined basic civil liberties in Hong Kong.

The regime has systematically engaged in arbitrary arrests of pro-democracy activists, journalists, and opposition leaders, closure of independent media platforms, censorship of education and the internet, and politically-motivated trials riddled with due process violations.

In August 2020 and June 2021, the Hong Kong Police Force raided the offices of Apple Daily, a leading pro-democracy newspaper in Hong Kong. The raids included the arrest of several top executive staff members and the forced seizure of journalists’ electronic devices.

After the second raid, the government froze millions of the publication’s assets, ultimately forcing Apple Daily to close its operations in June 2021.

“The Apple Daily raids are a stark reminder of the Hong Kong government’s disregard for press freedom, accountability, and civil liberties,” said HRF Senior Strategy and Research Associate Jenny Wang. “The United States government must continue taking appropriate actions to stand with democracy and human rights in Hong Kong. We applaud the government’s use of sanctions thus far and encourage keeping the pressure on those involved in curtailing freedoms. The United States and the global community must show the CCP that we will not tolerate its repression in Hong Kong.”

The co-signatories of the joint letter, including HRF and CFHK, urge Congress to support the use of tools such as Executive Order 13936 — known as “The President’s Executive Order on Hong Kong Normalization” — to impose sanctions on those involved in the Apple Daily raids.

While sanctions are just one tool in a broader foreign policy strategy, they are imperative in promoting accountability for those who repress freedoms. As Beijing’s grip tightens on Hong Kong, the international community must stand against the CCP and its shameless disregard for human rights.

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