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Home / Press Release / Human Rights First Alarmed at Sweeping Arrests of Veteran Activists in Hong Kong
April 18, 2020

Human Rights First Alarmed at Sweeping Arrests of Veteran Activists in Hong Kong

WASHINGTON - Human Rights First condemned today's arrests of 15 veteran pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, including leading legal figures Margaret Ng, Martin Lee and Albert Ho.

“We know that human rights lawyers are often at the top of the list when authoritarian regimes round up peaceful dissidents and attack the rule of law,” said Human Rights First's Brian Dooley. “Arresting leading pro-democracy figures is a provocative, reckless move by the authorities, likely to inflame an already highly volatile situation. The Trump administration should immediately and vigorously enforce the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.”

Leading human rights lawyer Albert Ho described to Human Rights First in September 2019 a pattern of Hong Kong police brutality which led to "serious bodily injuries to many protestors, including bone fractures and head injuries with bleeding." In October 2019, Margaret Ng and Martin Lee were jointly awarded the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Award for their lifelong defense of freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

The arrests are believed to be related to pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong in August and October 2019. The city has been rocked by large-scale protests since June 2019 pushing for political and police reform.

In November 2019 President Donald Trump signed into law the Hong Kong Democracy and Human Rights Act, bipartisan legislation that allows the U.S. government to sanction officials considered to be harming human rights and freedom in Hong Kong.