LibLink: Alistair Carminchael: The people of Hong Kong look to the UK to keep the promises we made to them

This week in Parliament, Alistair Carmichael asked an urgent question on the Foreign Office’s lack of action per the conviction of Hong King’s Umbrella Movements’s leaders. The Umbrella Movement had protested for 79 days for free and fair elections in 2015.

This week nine of the Umbrella Movement’s leaders were convicted of rarely used public order offences from the days of colonial rule. Chris Patten, the last British Governor of Hong Kong, described it as being “appallingly divisive to use anachronistic common law charges in a vengeful pursuit of political events which took place in 2014”.

The response of our own Foreign Office was a silence. How embarrassing, and not for the first time.

It was only 1997 that the UK handed Hong Kong back to China. It was a handover that allowed the UK to divest itself of another vestige of empire while entering into a treaty with China which sought to provide autonomy of the former colony and a continued progression towards democracy. It was Chris Patten’s not insubstantial legacy which gave both Britain and China obligations for fifty years until 2047.

He was quick to point out a former Lib Dem leader who had stood up so vociferously for the people of Hong Kong:

The UK Government has a moral and legal duty to stand up to Beijing on these matters. We may have left our colonial rule behind but not our obligations to democracy and human rights.

The people of Hong Kong look to the UK to keep the promises we made to them. Our government must stand up for the umbrella nine and all those facing down Beijing’s violation of their freedoms and do it before the case returns to court for sentencing.

The Late Paddy Ashdown was another man who took an interest in and cared about Hong Kong. Just last year he said, “we should be advocating change [in Hong Kong]. Instead we are quiescent. With the spread of tyranny and our history, it is unwise and shameful”.

You can read the whole article here.

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