With the escalating violence in Hong Kong, social workers are seeking solidarity support from the international social work community regarding the months-long political protest in Hong Kong.
The latest development in Hong Kong has demonstrated that the withdrawal of the Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill by the Hong Kong government in October could not restore peace and the people of Hong Kong will continue their expression for democratic freedom and a true and fair independent inquiry of all the critical incidents during the course of the movement.
Ms Irene Leung, President of the Hong Kong Association of Social Workers (HKSWA) said, “The situation gets increasingly worse. In the last 6 months, there have been over 3200 people arrested, including over 20 social workers. Deaths, as well as numerous injuries, are reported. There are widespread suppression and confrontation in the last 3 days particularly in the university campus, resulting in tremendous threats and anger from students”.
Professor in Social Work, Raees Baig at The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Chairperson of Amnesty International Hong Kong said, “A study conducted by Amnesty International showed that the police have carried out arbitrary arrests, brutal beating and torture when arresting people”
The HKSWA has formed an alliance with the Hong Kong Council of Social Service (representing most of the NGOs), the Hong Kong Social Workers General Union (a trade union for social welfare personnel) and Shiu Ka Chun Office (Legislative Councilor of Social Welfare constituency), creating a platform for joint statement to increase the impact and voices of the social services sector and social workers. The HKSWA advocacy plan is summarized as:
- Condemn the excessive force of the Police in jeopardizing people’s lives and oppressing people for expressing their demands and the right of assembly;
- Recognize the mission and value of social workers when they are exercising the humanitarian duty and should be protected from being arrested and risks;
- Set-up an independent commission of inquiry to give a true, fair and just judgement of the whole development of the movement.
- Do not accept any violence. HKSWA shall not let hatred become a cause of violence from both sides which lead to no avail.
IFSW Secretary-General, Rory Truell commented “Social Workers worldwide are very concerned about the present situation in Hong Kong and stand in solidarity with all people that non-violently protest for democratic processes. We support the urgent need for establishing measures to inquire into the incidents and provide an accurate and fair account of the situation. It is also necessary to engage the protest representatives and the administration, not only end the increasing violence but also with the goal of enabling dialogue and understanding that will meet the demands of the people of Hong Kong. It must be recognized that social workers at the frontline are essential for such engagement and their arrests and ill-treatment must be condemned globally.”
IFSW President, Silvana Martinez added, “That IFSW expressly rejects violence, police repression and the criminalization of citizen protest. Our position is based on the principles of human rights and social justice outlined in the IFSW approved Global Definition of Social Work and the Global Ethical Principles in 2016”.