Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has expressed serious concern over the growing violence in pro-democracy street protests in Hong Kong which shows no signs of dying down anytime soon as state police force continue to use excessive force.
De Lima, a known human rights defender here and abroad, said the indiscriminate brutal ways of the police in handling protesters, if left unaddressed, could endanger more lives and further cause trauma to the innocent citizens.
“Recent reports about the escalating violence in Hong Kong targeting pro-democracy rallyists in the region who fight for their rights and freedom are highly alarming,” she said.
“The Hong Kong government must show that it is exerting all efforts to hear the demands of its people and prevent cruelty and torture during mass protests by ensuring democratic reforms and an impartial inquiry into police behavior,” she added.
The Hong Kong protests started in June 2019 to oppose the now-suspended legislative measure that would allow people suspected of a crime to be extradited to mainland China for trial.
Despite Hong Kong Chief Administrator Carrie Lam’s assurance to indefinitely delay the passage of the controversial extradition bill, the citizens of Hong Kong continue to fight for full democracy and call for the resignation of Lam as chief executive.
Clashes between police and rallyists have become increasingly violent. Some clashes showed policemen in full battle gear used pepper spray directly at passengers on board a train and striking a protester already on the ground, among others.
“We cannot sit by and allow to pass the increasing incidents of violence in Hong Kong, and much less allow abusive police to indiscriminately harass and arrest ordinary people,” said De Lima, a former justice secretary.
Amid the ordeal of the rallyists in Hongkong, De Lima commended their courage and passion to stand up for human rights and freedom, which she hopes could be emulated by the Filipinos who witness injustices in the country.
“As I’ve said before, we can learn from our neighbors in Hong Kong who chose to remain united in the face of challenges to fight against threats to their civil liberties and political autonomy,” she said.
“In the Philippines, state-inspired killings continue to happen under the Duterte regime, yet most of us continue to keep a blind eye on the issue. The situation in Hong Kong should teach us that we should exert concerted efforts to fight tyranny and call out the excesses of the present government,” she added.
A victim of political persecution under the vengeful Duterte regime herself, De Lima has continued to speak out on burning issues, especially concerning human rights and social justice, amid her continued unjust detention over trumped-up drug charges.