Co-Chairs Call for Suspension of Sales to Hong Kong Police
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Responding to the deteriorating human rights situation in Hong Kong, today Reps. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ) and James P. McGovern (D-MA), Co-Chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, issued a letter calling upon Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to suspend future sales of munitions and crowd and riot control equipment to the Hong Kong police force.
The two co-chairs stated that this was “a necessary response to credible reports of excessive force being used by the Hong Kong police targeting individuals engaged in peaceful demonstrations against the Hong Kong Government’s proposed extradition bill and the fast-eroding space for political participation.”
Noting that the United Kingdom has suspended future sales of tear gas and other crowd control equipment until human rights concerns are addressed, Smith and McGovern called for further scrutiny of relations with the Hong Kong police.
The bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, composed of members of the U.S. House of Representatives, promotes, defends and advocates for international human rights, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant human rights instruments.
The full text of the letter is reprinted below. A scanned copy of the signed letter is available [here].
Dear Secretary Pompeo and Secretary Ross:
We write to ask that you suspend future sales of munitions and crowd and riot control equipment to the Hong Kong Police Force and increase scrutiny of any direct commercial sale of defense articles to the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
These steps are a necessary response to credible reports of excessive force being used by the Hong Kong police targeting individuals engaged in peaceful demonstrations against the Hong Kong Government’s proposed extradition bill and the fast-eroding space for political participation. Human rights groups in Hong Kong have assembled evidence about attacks on journalists, the beating of subdued protestors, and the inappropriate use of tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and other crowd control equipment.
The United Kingdom has suspended future sales of tear gas and other crowd control equipment to Hong Kong until human rights concerns are addressed, and the British government has urged the Hong Kong Government to establish an independent investigation into the violent scenes that have been observed. We urge you to take similar measures as soon as possible because tensions are escalating as criminal gangs indiscriminately attack Hong Kong citizens, as occurred on July 22, 2019. A Chinese government official recently made threats to use People’s Liberation Army forces in Hong Kong.
Further scrutiny of the types of programs and contacts the U.S. engages in with the Hong Kong police will be needed moving forward. We ask that you consider denying U.S. entry visas for those individuals found to be complicit in the excessive use of force against demonstrators and journalists, as well as those found to be colluding in attacks by criminal gangs. We also ask that the State Department provide much more robust information on U.S.-Hong Kong law enforcement cooperation in future Hong Kong Policy Act Reports, required pursuant to section 301 of the U.S.-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992.
We ask that you suspend future sales of munitions and crowd and riot control equipment to the Hong Kong Police Force and publicly announce that the U.S. will not contribute to the internal repression of peaceful protest in Hong Kong. In addition, given events of the recent days, we ask you to push back, in the strongest terms possible, against the Hong Kong and Chinese governments’ efforts to characterize the demonstrations as “riots” and to blame the U.S. for political instability which they alone created.
We look forward to working with you to advance U.S. interests in maintaining Hong Kong’s autonomy and the rights guaranteed to Hong Kong’s citizens by the Hong Kong Basic Law and international agreements, including the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
Member of Congress
Member of Congress