Hong Kong: Naumann Foundation closes office
Due to the new law on the 'Protection of National Security' for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom can no longer guarantee the security of its employees on site. All project activities of the Naumann Foundation in Hong Kong are therefore frozen and the local office space has been terminated. Unfortunately, the Naumann-Foundation had to part with the remaining four employees for their safety. Before that, one employee had already left the Naumann Foundation out of concern for his personal safety. The National Security Law prevents a continuation of the previous work of the foundation in Hong Kong.
"The last wave of arrests on the 26th of August also affected long-standing partners of the Naumann Foundation. In Hong Kong today there is a climate of fear and permanent threat. Those who work for democracy and freedom in Hong Kong today are putting themselves in danger. We cannot and will not expose our employees and partners to this risk. Therefore, this is the only step we can take, which we greatly regret," says Karl-Heinz Paqué, Chairman of the Board of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.
On July 1st, 2020, the National Security Law for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region came into force. Since then Hong Kong has experienced an unprecedented wave of arrests, violence and repression by the Chinese authorities. The law provides for long prison sentences for alleged secession, subversion, terrorism and cooperation with foreigners. The declared purpose of the National Security Law is to prevent cooperation with foreign actors. The Chinese government specifically targets foreign organizations and representatives of civil society. Numerous local and foreign dissidents and democracy activists have now left Hong Kong.
"Our employees can be accused of being 'foreign agents' and sentenced to several years' imprisonment on the pretext that they are 'foreign agents' - without due process of law, without a chance for a fair trial. Who these 'foreign agents' are and the extent to which they threaten national security is determined solely by the arbitrariness of the Chinese authorities," Paqué says.