Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mobilisation Against the Hong Kong Police Action Over 2011 IDAHO

Nigel Collett,
reporting.  Photo
taken in Hong
Kong, July
21, 2010, by
Steve Parelli
From: Nigel Collett
Sent: Mon, May 16, 2011 11:10:39 PM
Mobilisation Against the Hong Kong Police Action Over 2011 IDAHO

Dear all at the BBC,

You may, by now, be aware of the HK (Hong Kong) Police interference with HK's celebration of IDAHO on Sunday. Various elements of the IDAHO Organizing Committee will be taking up protests (eg Amnesty International) and the TCJM, which was the Organizing Committee's leading group, will take a lead here.

Attached [below] is a letter from the TCJM Chairman, Reggie Ho, to ask you to consider helping us with action.

Please consider how you can help with the protest, either by writing to the Government (the Security Department), Legco Members or the media. Please also give this the widest circulation for others to action.

The legal advice we have obtained is that the Police have exceeded their authority and that there are good grounds for an official complaint, which we intend to make. HK legal precedent is clear that social and political events that include some form of musical or dance performance are not to be prohibited for routine reasons like 'obstruction' and that the right to assemble must be maintained. All previous LGBT events have included some form of performance and none has ever been prohibited before. No straight event has been prohibited at all. It is vital that the Police are not allowed to create a precedent by this action.

I will keep you informed as matters develop. If you do take action, which we hope you will, please keep us cc'd.

For some detail of the issue, see Raymond Ko's article on Fridae.com at:


Yours ever


Nigel Collett
Joint English Secretary
Mobile: (852) 6977 2798
Website: www.tcjm.org  


Dear Tongzhi,

By now, you may have heard that the Hong Kong Police interfered in last Sunday’s International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) rally in Causeway Bay, organised by Amnesty International, Gay Harmony, Rainbow of Hong Kong, Tongzhi Community Joint Meeting and Transgender Resource Center.

Some twenty policemen turned up with a video camera, demanding a dancing segment of the event to stop immediately because it had not obtained a license for public entertainment. They also started filming the crowd, stone-faced. Not wanting the incident to escalate and compromise the rest of the programme, a decision was made to stop the dance performance as requested. After more videotaping, the troop of policemen left.

The police action was wrong on many fronts:

1. As legislator James To has been quoted in Ming Pao saying, the police was misguided in using Chapter 172, the law regulating entertainment in public places, as the cause for action because an organision expressing opinions with dance is not entertainment.

2. In a recent Court of Final Appeal case of Yueng May-Wan v HKSAR (2004), which was an appeal against a criminal conviction for obstruction of a public place, the CFA judges said that freedoms of opinion, expression and assembly are fundamental rights enshrined in the Basic Law, which supersedes common law. In the same vein, the police should have viewed the performance in the context of it being part of a peaceful demonstration, a right protected by under Art 27 of the Basic Law. In failing to do so, they acted in excess of their powers and thereby acted unlawfully even though a license may have been required in ordinary circumstances.
3. Many rallies with music and dance before took place without an entertainment license, including an Amnesty International Hong Kong event that was happening in Kowloon at the same time of the IDAHO rally. But the police only cracked down on the latter. Apple Daily has also pointed out that the annual Cheung Chau Bun Festival, which includes a lot of activities that can be construed as entertainment under this law, has never been asked to obtain such a license. The police was singling out IDAHO, for reasons unknown. 
4. Besides acting on a shaky legal ground, the Hong Kong Police had also displayed a blatant lack of sensitivity towards sexual minorities. It is a well-known fact that sexual orientation and gender identity are tabooed subjects and people of different sexual orientations or/and gender identities often fear that exposure of their sexual identities would invite discrimination. It took many attendees of the rally a lot of courage to come to turn up. For the police to film them with such a disdainful attitude was uncalled for and insensitive.

Sexual minorities have long been oppressed and their rights infringed. We are not going to let the Hong Kong Police, whose job is supposed to be protecting our rights and not violating them, to take away our freedoms of expression. We must voice out our concerns on this incident and seek justice.

I call for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, as well as all supporters of human rights, to act.
o If you were present at the IDAHO rally when the police cracked down on it, you may file a complaint with the Independent Police Complaints Council for the officers’ filming of you being at the rally when you had not broken any law. These complaints need to be made by the person directly affected by the police misconduct. See http://www.ipcc.gov.hk/en/complaint_channels.html.

o Write James To (jkstolegco@gmail.com), chairman of the Security Panel at the Legislative Council. With complaints from us, he can then take the issue to the chamber and demand the government to investigate and respond.

o Voice out your thoughts by writing Apple Daily (Chinese) at forum@appledaily.com, South China Morning Post (English) at letters@scmp.com or any media outlet of your choice. A Chinese letter can be anything from 200 characters to 800, while an English letter is best kept under 500 words.
Speak up, let the Hong Kong Police and society know that you will not be victimized. This is our chance to show unity and get our point across.

In solidarity,

Reggie Ho
Tongzhi Community Joint Meeting

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