BWI opposes anti-democracy laws in HK and Philippines

BWI add its voice in opposing the draconian laws recently passed in Hong Kong and the Philippines under the guise of protecting national security and neutralising terrorism. Hong Kong’s National Security Act and the Philippines’ Anti-Terrorism Law represent a dual threat to all democracy-loving citizens, particularly trade unions and workers in the region. They attack the right to dissent, collective action, privacy and due process; they stifle freedom of expression, movement and association, and assault the very fabric of democracy. 

Both laws are similar in many ways. Both measures will create super bodies to supervise the laws’ implementation, comprised of appointed people from the executive branch with the powers to label any individual and group as terrorist and call for their surveillance, investigations, warrantless arrests, and detentions.

Both laws create a chilling effect on human rights. They can punish the legitimate exercise of human rights, such as the workers’ right to strike, form unions and extend solidarity to each other. This democratic exercise of trade union rights can easily be branded as crimes against persons, destruction of property, subversion and collusion to a foreign power.

Both laws can also detain people for long periods of time. In Hong Kong, a suspect can be detained for up to six months, or extradited to and prosecuted in mainland China. In the Philippines, the Anti-Terrorism Law can detain people for up to 24 days.  Clearly, in every respect, these laws are blatantly anti-worker and anti-democracy. They are anathema to democratic trade unionism. 

BWI calls on its affiliates to express their support and solidarity to our sisters and brothers in Hong Kong and the Philippines who are fighting back and reclaiming shrinking democratic spaces. At a time of a global health crisis, what workers need are policies that will protect their health and jobs from the onslaught of the pandemic and its accompanying economic crisis. This requires a healthy and vibrant democracy, not state tyranny. 

(Photos: The Catalyst, PUP and Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)