Hong Kong: An Escalating Humanitarian Crisis

Hong Kong: An Escalating Humanitarian Crisis

Further to IFMSA’s press release in June [1], violence and human rights violations have intensified. Over 1820 tear gas canisters and 300 rubber bullets have been fired (as of 6 August), aimed at individual protestors in multiple occasions. Mobs repeatedly attacked protestors, journalists and civilians, with knives, iron rods and burning fireworks projectiles. While over 748 people have been arrested in recent protests, none of the armed triad members have been prosecuted to date, putting citizens’ personal safety under threat.

On 11 August, law enforcement officials fired tear gas canisters in a crowded metro station, and headshot protestors from within 1 metres’ distance. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights described such actions as “creating a considerable risk of death or serious injury”, by “employing less-lethal weapons in ways that are prohibited by international norms and standards” [2].

The police force confirmed they have been deploying expired tear gas, and journalists at the scene during police clearance operations had reported widespread health complications [3]. Human rights groups deemed the indiscriminate and excessive use of tear gas a contravention to the Geneva Protocol [3]. IFMSA joins the Higher Commissioner in “urg(ing) the Hong Kong SAR authorities to investigate these incidents immediately” and ensure the use of force by officials abides by “the principles of necessity and proportionality” [2].

Meanwhile, the on-site work of first-aiders, ambulance men and journalists, and arrested persons’ access to medical and legal assistance, have been repeatedly obstructed. Two citizens suffered from permanent vision loss and many were hospitalised in recent political events.

IFMSA condemns all acts that harm others’ health and rights. The Federation echoes the United Nation’s call “on the authorities and the people of Hong Kong to engage in an open and inclusive dialogue aimed at resolving all issues peacefully. This is the only sure way to achieve long-term political stability and public security by creating channels for people to participate in public affairs and decisions affecting their lives.” [2]

Lastly, the Federation calls on its National Member Organisations and international society to stand in solidarity with Hong Kong in this difficult time.

[1] IFMSA. (2019, June 26). Press Release: Human Rights Under Threat in Hong Kong. Retrieved from https://ifmsa.org/2019/06/25/press-release-human-rights-under-threat-in-hong-kong/?fbclid=IwAR1LIW49EC7lCJeTQrE4q4SCMIyBRa89Hp2XD0AxiqzE7fZAHQb87crFZAM

[2] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. (2019, August 13). Press briefing note on Hong Kong, China. Retrieved from https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=24888&LangID=E[3] Wong, H. C. P., Wong, S. C. T., Yu, E. M. L., Kwong, P. Y., Médecins Inspirés, Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, & Civil Rights Observants. (2019, August 9). A Survey on the Health Impacts of Exposure to Tear Gas in the 2019 Hong Kong Anti-Extradition Bill Protests. Retrieved from https://drive.google.com/file/d/14g1uA7wLJm2ex2su3EbiQXqbqf6Q5uwz/view?sfns=mo

[3] Wong, H. C. P., Wong, S. C. T., Yu, E. M. L., Kwong, P. Y., Médecins Inspirés, Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, & Civil Rights Observants. (2019, August 9). A Survey on the Health Impacts of Exposure to Tear Gas in the 2019 Hong Kong Anti-Extradition Bill Protests. Retrieved from https://drive.google.com/file/d/14g1uA7wLJm2ex2su3EbiQXqbqf6Q5uwz/view?sfns=mo