BWI to Hong Kong: Trade unionism is not a crime!

*BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson on the arrest warrants issued on self-exiled Hong Kong trade union leader Christopher Mung Siu-Tat and 7 others

The Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) condemns in the strongest possible terms the Hong Kong government’s issuance of arrest warrants against Christopher Mung Siu-Tat, Executive Director of Hong Kong Labour Rights Monitor (HKLRM) and former Chief Executive of the now defunct Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) and seven other individuals. In the same manner, BWI deplores the Hong Kong police’s absurd offer of HKD 1 million (USD 127,600) in reward money for information leading to each arrest. 

The fact that the arrest warrants were issued on the third anniversary of Hong Kong's draconian National Security Law (NSL) implementation reveals the government's profound intolerance of its citizens who bravely exercise their right to dissent and freedom of expression, as well as protect trade union rights, whether done domestically or within the safety provided by the international community. This is the first time that bounties have been offered since the NSL was enacted.  It is not enough for the Hong Kong government to force its freedom-fighting  citizens to go into exile; it continues to threaten them wherever they are. It is dangerously obsessed on unjustly prosecuting them by all means possible and treating them like low-level criminals with bounty on their heads.

BWI stands in solidarity with Mung and the seven other activists targeted by the Hong Kong government's latest assault on democracy and trade union rights. We contend that trade unionism is not a crime, and that trade unionists are not criminals. Trade unionism is a necessary component of any true democracy; without it, pluralism and diversity give way to despotism.

We call on the Hong Kong administration to revoke the said arrest warrants and stop persecuting its democracy-loving citizens both at home and abroad. We also demand the Hong Kong government to release all democracy activists and trade unionists who have been wrongfully imprisoned for simply expressing their rights as workers and citizens, and to dismiss all the false charges lodged against them. Finally, we urge the Hong Kong authorities to repeal the NSL and return to the path of democracy. History has shown that authoritarianism, in whatever form or shape it takes, cannot be sustained. Only democracy can deliver on the promise of a better and more equal future for the world's working people.