As police used teargas to disperse protesters senior religious leaders in the UK sent their letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab arguing that the UK had failed the “legal, historical and moral duty” of the Sino–British Joint Declaration which they signed in 1984, a treaty that was subsequently legally ratified in both London and Beijing and internationally. The religious leaders went on to pressure the Government into “expanding the rights of British National Overseas passport holders, offering safe refuge in the UK to Hongkongers”. The letter, also signed by Chief Executive of Humanists UK and the Catholic Union, disputed the effectiveness of “speaking out” and insisted the Government commit to action with more bite by “sanctioning individuals from China and Hong Kong who are responsible for or complicit in human rights violations during this political crisis”.
The letter signed by Lord Williams and many other senior British religious leaders also spoke for “the increasing persecution and imprisonment of Christians and the demolition of churches in China, the internment of more than a million Uighur Muslims, the continued oppression of Tibetan Buddhists”.
In Hong Kong, the pro-democracy group’s high-profile secretary-general, Joshua Wong tweeted footage of the clashes as riot police broke up the demonstrations, saying sarcastically that it showed “the authentic Christmas experience” in Hong Kong. The police beat the s**t out of you!”
In response to the police use of tear gas and rubber bullets to shmash the resolve of the protestors Luke de Pulford of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission tweeted: “Crazed Hong Kong police shut down peaceful Xmas Eve demonstrations by shooting KIDS in the FACE with rubber bullets, ask any ballistic expert, these should never be aimed at the head.
“Not such a silent night in HK.
“Public inquiry now.”
Police had earlier promised a strong response to any unrest, deploying a large presence to city malls after pro-democracy activists announced their intention online to target shopping centres on Christmas Eve.
“Black-clad rioters should not come out and bring destruction, let Hong Kong have a peaceful Christmas,” Police Commissioner Chris Tang Ping-keung told reporters on Tuesday night after observing police patrols of a busy shopping area.
As hundreds of black-clad protesters, many wearing masks, gathered in shopping malls chanting slogans calling for Hong Kong independence, or singing anthems of the pro-democracy movement, police responded in strength.
The protests, now in their seventh month, have lost some of the scale and intensity of earlier violent confrontations.
However, a peaceful rally earlier this month drew 800,000 people, according to organisers, showing strong support for the movement.
The protests were initially sparked by a now-abandoned attempt to allow extraditions to mainland China, but have since morphed into a popular revolt against Beijing’s rule, with spiralling fears that the city is losing some of its unique liberties.
The Civil Human Rights Front, which has organised some of the biggest marches involving more than a million people, has applied to stage another march on New Year’s Day.
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Police have arrested more than 6,000 people since the protests escalated in June, including a large number during a protracted, violent siege at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in mid-November.
Many Hong Kong residents are angry at what they see as Beijing’s meddling in the freedoms promised to the former British colony when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
China denies interfering and says it is committed to the “one country, two systems” formula put in place at that time and has blamed foreign forces for fomenting unrest.
is the UK government’s sworn duty to stand with Hong Kong. Please act with urgency to ensure the lives and freedoms of those in Hong Kong are protected.
Below is the full list of signatories to the letter urging the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to “ensure the lives and freedoms of those in Hong Kong are protected”.
The Right Reverend Dr Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham,
The Right Reverend and Right Honourable, The Lord Williams of Oystermouth, former Archbishop of Canterbury,
Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of Humanists UK,
Reverend Andrew Dart, Superintendent Minister, Lambeth Methodist Circuit,
Reverend Joanna Jepson,
The Bishop of Coventry,
Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP, former Master of the Dominican Order,
The Lord Singh of Wimbledon CBE,
Dr Desmond Biddulph CBE, President The Buddhist Society,
The Right Reverend John Perry, former Bishop of Chelmsford and former Chairman of CSW,
Mervyn Thomas CMG, Founder and Chief Executive of CSW,
Rabbi Herschel Gluck OBE,
Reverend Jonathan Aitken,
Rabbi Herschel Gluck OBE,
Kyaw Win, Executive Director of Burma Human Rights Network and General Secretary of the Burmese Muslim Association UK,
Reverend Jonathan Aitken,
Nigel Parker, Director The Catholic Union of Great Britain,
Neville Kyrke-Smith, National Director, Aid to the Church in Need,
Cllr Rakhia Ismail, London Borough of Islington Mayor,
Fr Damian Howard SJ, Provincial of the Jesuits in Britain,
Dr Wael Aleji, Association for Middle Eastern Conservatives,
Dr Anas Altikriti, CEO, The Cordoba Foundation,
Ajmal Masroor, Imam and London Broadcaster,
Mohammed Kozbar, Chairman, Finsbury Park Mosque,
Imam Mersad Krnjic, Imam, Bosnian Community in Birmingham,
Dr Abdullah Faliq, CEO, Justice for Rohingya Minority.