After local riot police engaged in fierce clashes with pro-democracy protesters at Hong Kong’s international airport on Tuesday, the European Union and the United Nations both called for the Chinese Communist Party to show restraint in its reaction to the crisis.
“It is now more vital than ever to engage in a political process of broad-based and inclusive dialogue, involving all key stakeholders,” said the EU in its official statement.
“The rights of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and the right to participate in public affairs are expressly recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which is incorporated in the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.
The pro-democracy protests began in June after the Chinese government proposed a controversial bill that would have allowed the Communist Party to extradite individuals from Hong Kong to the mainland – a violation of the civil rights that the residents of Hong Kong were guaranteed under the “one country, two systems” agreement that was put in place once China took control of the territory from the United Kingdom in 1997.
Most of Hong Kong’s 8 million residents feared that the new bill would be used by the region’s Beijing appointed authorities to target political enemies, who would later be handed over to security service agents in mainland China where the Communist Party tightly controls the courts.
The UK, which counted Cantonese-speaking Hong Kong as one of the British Empire’s most politically and economically important colonies from 1841-1997, has called for an independent investigation into the protests, condemned violence and emphasised the right to peaceful protest.