AFT Resolution

SOLIDARITY WITH HONG KONG

WHEREAS, hundreds of thousands, even millions, of courageous protesters have taken to the streets of Hong Kong in what may be the biggest series of demonstrations since Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997; and

WHEREAS, since the Umbrella Movement of 2014, the Communist Party in Beijing has made clear that it has no intention to introduce political reform toward democracy as promised in the Basic Law; and

WHEREAS, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government has a dwindling tolerance for dissent; despite this, protesters have braved police batons, rubber bullets, and tear gas in demonstrations showing that nothing less than the future of their city is at stake; and

WHEREAS, on the surface, the protests concern a proposed law affecting extradition; in reality, the law, if enacted, would mark a disastrous turn for the rule of law in Hong Kong, since anyone—dissident student, human rights activist, labor leader, journalist, business person—could not escape from the fear to be subject to sudden extradition to mainland China, where those who displease the ruling party have little chance for a fair trial. Such fear has not been in existence in the past under the “one country, two systems” framework as Hong Kong has a separated legal system from that in the mainland; and

WHEREAS, the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions has declared, “As workers, Hong Kong is the home to our careers, families, loved ones, and livelihood. We do not want to see the collapse and demise of Hong Kong. It is our responsibilities to protect this home of ours. We saw the children of Hong Kong were brave enough to take to the streets but were brutally dealt with by the police. We can no longer close our eyes to the situation. Hong Kong belongs to all of us and cannot be controlled and destroyed by the hands of a few”; and

WHEREAS, 81 percent of the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union members opposed the bill in a survey. The union strongly urges the government to respond to the appeals consolidated in the civil society after the massive rallies, namely:

  • complete withdrawal of the extradition bill;
  • retraction of the characterization of the June 12 clash as a riot;
  • cancellation of all charges against protesters in the siege;
  • an independent inquiry to investigate police use of force; and
  • stepping down of the government leadership; and

WHEREAS, consideration of the extradition law has been suspended; nevertheless, the gap between Beijing and hopeful democrats in Hong Kong is widening; the latest demonstrations are but one more in a long series of human rights struggles that have failed to realize China’s original promise to grant the territory general suffrage; instead, frustration, bitterness and disappointment continue to grow among a new generation of activists; and

WHEREAS, the former British colony returned to China in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula that allows freedoms not enjoyed in mainland China, including the freedom to protest and an independent judiciary. But consider:

  • Beijing surrogates still dominate Hong Kong’s political choices, even expelling elected legislators who challenge them;
  • protest leaders still land unjustifiably long jail terms;
  • the formerly independent media are being pressured into self-censorship;
  • there is growing interference with academic freedom on campus; and
  • collective bargaining rights are hardly recognized, and protections against anti-union discrimination are weak and ineffective:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers reaffirms its long-established relations of solidarity with the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions and the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will inform leaders in the U.S. Congress, and the U.S. State Department, that our union stands in solidarity with democracy defenders in Hong Kong and in support of the values of equality, dignity, democracy and justice; and

RESOLVED, that the recent disturbances in the streets of Hong Kong must not be used as pretext for what could be a catastrophic crackdown by the People’s Liberation Army; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will urge Education International and Public Services International to assert their influence in international forums—such as the United Nations, the International Labor Organization, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and UNESCO—to make the protection of democracy and human rights in Hong Kong a condition for any engagements with Beijing.

(2019)

Please note that a newer resolution, or portion of a resolution, may have superseded an earlier resolution on the same subject. As a result, with the exception of resolutions adopted at our most recent AFT convention, resolutions do not necessarily reflect current AFT policies.