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The government’s Fugitive Offenders Ordinance (Amendment) Bill is so unreasonable and untenable that teachers cannot remain silent.
First, exchanges between teachers of local universities, secondary schools, primary schools, kindergartens and special schools and their Mainland counterparts are already very common. At the same time, there has been a sharp increase of Mainland study tours which have to be guided by teachers. People in Hong Kong generally lack confidence in the Mainland’s law enforcement and judicial system, where failures of justice, frame-ups and evidence-planting degenerating into political persecution are frequently heard of. Incidents involving the seizure of persons in Hong Kong to the Mainland have occurred in secret and outside the law. Once the amendment bill is passed and public authority is abused, the risk of local residents being extradited will increase tremendously.
Secondly, the government’s lies in proposing the amendment bill have been all but exposed. For example, the so-called “sympathy” or “compassion” for the Taiwan homicide case is in fact an exploitation of the victim and her family in order to speed up the passage of the bill. Released official records also belie the claim that there is a 20-year-plus loophole to be closed, showing even Mainland acknowledgement at the time that the real reason was the defective Mainland laws. The government and its supporters raise all sorts of unjustifiable claims and attempt to ride roughshod over the Legislative Council with a consultation period of only 20 days. This is no less than publicly hoodwinking Hong Kong citizens and insulting our intelligence.
Thirdly, although only acts considered as constituting an offence in both Hong Kong and the Mainland are extraditable, apart from criminal acts, laws relating to intellectual properties, the national anthem law that is being vetted, the legislation of Article 23 of the Basic Law that will sooner or later return, and the applications of national laws in Hong Kong which are in the hands of the NPC in accordance with Annex III of the Basic Law can all become openings for extradition. Limited to considerations on prima facie evidence, it will be difficult for Hong Kong courts to be the “gatekeepers”. A legal advisor of the Legislative Council has also expressed serious misgivings about the bill. Hence, if the bill is passed, all Hong Kong people will face hitherto non-existent risks of extradition.
Fourthly, the mission of education is to help students develop qualities in leading fruitful lives and building good societies, with corresponding attitudes and values. In teaching, educators need freedom of discussion with students in order to explore issues of truth, goodness and beauty as well as other values like democracy, justice and freedom. The bill suppresses freedom of discussion in teaching, educators will be wary of speech crimes, resulting in self-censorship and decline in learning and teaching quality.
On the whole, human rights are not yet respected in the Mainland, trials cannot be said to be fair, justice succumbs to politics and corruption is rampant. Once the bill is passed, Hong Kong will be in danger. Teachers cannot remain silent when justice is trampled. In order to protect our future generations not to face the risks of extradition to the Mainland, we strongly demand that the government withdraw the amendment bill. If the government insists on its course, we demand that all legislators veto the bill.
Progressive Teachers’ Alliance
Scholars’ Alliance for Academic Freedom
Progressive Scholars Group
HK Education Concern Group
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