AOHKMP responds to the arrest of HK citizens by possessed the “children’s books”

Press Release



The AOHKMP is deeply disturbed by the arrest of two individuals, aged 38 and 50, by Hong Kong’s National Security Police under the sedition statute on Monday (13.3.2023). 

The Hong Kong Police said both men possessed multiple publications that could “incite hatred or contempt against the Central government, the Hong Kong government, and the Hong Kong judiciary.” Police continued to detain the pair, according to news reports. 

Hong Kong newspapers Sing Tao and HK01, an Hong Kong online news portal cited that two men held children’s books about sheep and wolves that were deemed subversive during a high-profile trial last year. Five speech therapists were convicted of conspiring to publish, distribute, and display three subversive books. In September of last year, they were each sentenced to 19 months in prison.

Article 27 of the Basic Law guarantees Hong Kong residents’ freedom of expression, press, and publication. And Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states that “everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”

The arbitrary arrests of two Hong Kong residents and use of the draconian laws of the colonial era to suppress the freedom of Hong Kong people would chill society as a whole and hinder freedom of speech, a fundamental human right protected by Hong Kong law.

The Causeway Bay Bookstore incident happened in 2015, when five booksellers were abducted to China,  secretly detained, and trailed on the mainland.  The incident shook Hong Kong society and the international community, prompting questions about whether freedom of expression and publication were still protected by law and whether Hong Kong residents were still safe in their own beds. One of the booksellers, Gui Minhai, has been sentenced by China court to 10 years in jail for “illegally providing intelligence overseas”. Now, Hong Kong residents are threatened with potential criminal charges if they possess publications that the government finds objectionable.

The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (the Committee) commented on the fourth report submitted by the Hong Kong SAR government under the ICCPR at the beginning of this month. Both the Committee and the AOHKMP are aware of the arbitrary arrests, detentions, and trials of Hong Kong journalists, human rights lawyers, and civil society activists. The Committee added its views to the fourth report given by the HKSAR, stating that the Hong Kong National Security Law had de facto abolished the city’s judicial independence, a vital element and core value.

The AOHKMP condemns the arrest and urges the HKSAR to release the two Hong Kong residents as swiftly as possible and to uphold the Basic Law and the ICCPR. Such a breach of human rights and freedom of expression would only harm Hong Kong’s worldwide standing.

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Editor’s Note

The AOHKMP, launched in October 2022, is an association of media professionals who have worked in Hong Kong and are now living overseas, where, unlike their colleagues still in the territory, they are free to defend press freedom.