OFL Statement: We stand with Hong Kong. An Injury to One is an injury to all.
The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) joins with the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) and unions across Canada in calling for an end to the violence against pro-democracy protestors. The OFL stands in solidarity with our brave sisters and brothers in Hong Kong protesting the Hong Kong Extradition Bill, and condemns the use of violence, repression and threats against these protestors by those in power. The OFL calls for the demands set out by the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKTCU) for respect for the rule of law and democracy to be met full and without delay.
“It is solidarity that is the strength of our movement, and our movement knows that democracy must be protected around the world,” said Ontario Federation of Labour President Chris Buckley. “The government of Hong Kong must heed the demands of these steadfast protestors, who will not let their quest for true democracy be undermined.”
In the past two months in Hong Kong, peaceful protesters have been brutally attacked and arrested. On June 16, over 2 million people participated in a demonstration to oppose the Extradition Bill imposed by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
Elizabeth Ha, OFL Vice President representing Workers of Colour recently met with members of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKTCU).
“The number of people that have taken to the streets is record breaking and unprecedented,” said Ha. “The people of Hong Kong have been protesting not just for Hong Kong, but also for the world. We cannot sit quietly and watch the police use excessive force and violence to suppress peaceful protesters.”
China continues to disregard public demands and refuses to withdraw this bill, instead sending police forces to violently suppress the demonstrations. The arrogance of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government and the violent suppression of dissent by Hong Kong police has further aroused public anger, resulting in persistent protests and demonstrations.
The situation has worsened. Police stormed into two metro stations and shot tear gas, rubber bullets at close range against young people coming out or on the escalators. A young female protester had tear gas shot into her right eye and has been blinded. Pepper spray, more than 1000 tear gas rounds – some of them past their expiry date making them doubly dangerous – and 500 rubber bullets as well as sponge bullets have been fired by the police, often at short range and at head height. Two protesters have suffered serious eye injuries from short-range shots by the police and may not recover their sight.
Most recently, police arrested dozens of people, including a 12-year-old child, as they defended the use of water cannons and firing of live rounds for the first time since the demonstrations started in June.
The freedom of the press has also been compromised. The Hong Kong Federation of Journalists has reported on hundreds of complaints of police violence used against their members.
In suppressing the freedom of expression, China has ordered the Hong Kong based airline Cathay Pacific to suspend any staff that support pro-democracy protests. After the General strike organized by HKCTU on August 4, 2019, the President of Cathay Dragon Flight attendants Union, Rebecca Sy was terminated for her Facebook postings on the protests.
The OFL is in solidarity with the people of Hong Kong and the five demands set out by the HKTCU:
- The complete withdrawal of the proposed extradition bill
- The government to withdraw the use of the word “riot” in relation to protests
- The unconditional release of arrested protesters and charges against them dropped
- An independent inquiry into police behaviour
- Implementation of genuine universal suffrage