Sunday, October 26, 2008

Citizens in Macao Against Communist Legislation

By An Qi and Ye Yingshi
The Epoch Times Oct 24, 2008
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Citizens protest Chinese Communist Party sponsored legislation
Civil groups in Macao are strongly against legislating Article 23. (Xu Xia/The Epoch Times)
MACAO—Governor Edmund Ho Hau-wah officially started the legislative process of implementing Basic Law Article 23 on October 22. Ho announced that the comment period for the draft ends in November. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) pushed for Article 23 in Hong Kong in 2003. This triggered a massive demonstration of a half million people in 2003, and the legislative process was stopped in Hong Kong indefinitely.

Since the reunion of Hong Kong and Macao, Beijing has never stopped attempting to implement Article 23, the anti-subversion law that prohibits foreign political groups from conducting activities that jeopardize "state security." It also restricts local political groups from establishing connections with foreign political groups that engage in activities that jeopardize state security.

The most highly contested feature of Article 23 is its vague definition of a “political group,” which could include any religious or human rights group.

It also requires Hong Kong and Macao to adopt the CCP’s state security concept used on the mainland, basically, whatever is labeled a threat to state security on the mainland should also be adopted in Hong Kong or Macro.

Violators of the law may be sentenced up to 25 years in prison.

After the Macao government announced the beginning of the legislative work several days ago, members of the Democratic Initiative, a local human rights group, delivered a letter to the government. In the letter, it states, “Legislation of Article 23 must conform to international human rights standards and the two treaties of the Johannesburg Convention. [The legislation] should not incriminate or conduct political investigations based on speeches and should implement universal suffrage as quickly as possible, so citizens can effectively supervise the government.”

Lei Kin-lun, a member of the Democratic Initiative said, “We cannot tolerate political investigations and incriminate [people] based on what they say using Article 23. Furthermore, we absolutely cannot accept a political tool that suppresses dissidents and different voices.”

Lei worries that freedom of speech, demonstration and political activities in Macao would not be allowed once the legislation is passed, “The [proposed] law involves everyone’s freedom of speech.”

Ms. Lin, a resident in Macao, describes Article 23 as a knife on every citizen’s throat that restricts freedoms now enjoyed by every Macao citizen.

Ms. Song, a Falun Gong practitioner in Macao said, “In any democratic society, criticizing a political party would never be construed as criticizing the country. However, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) intentionally obscures this concept and blends the CCP and the country together. If anyone criticized the CCP, it will become criticizing and subverting the country.”

"Take the gathering of Falun Gong practitioners in Macao. Macao police continue to interfere with their legal gatherings without the base of any law. The unlawful action of the Macao police would intensify once Article 23 passed," said Song.

Au Kam-sun, representative of the Macao Legislative Council, said that there is no clear definition on “political groups” in the Law and it creates a hole. There is a need to make clear regulations.

Read original Chinese article

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

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