BEBESEA stand in solidarity with Elizabeth Tang, the General Secretary of the International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF), who was arrested in Hong Kong on 9th March 2023 and currently on bail. We are also in solidarity with everyone at the IDWF and all her colleagues and friends, who have fought for labour rights and democracy alongside her for decades, at this challenging time.
Dearly known as “Sister Ngor”, Elizabeth is one of the most veteran and prominent female activists for labour rights and independent union movement in Hong Kong, Asia and around the globe. In 1990, she co-founded Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU), the largest pro-democracy umbrella organisation of unions in Hong Kong, and served as its Executive Director for 16 years. The organisation was disbanded in the wake of the National Security Law imposed in June 2021. Many members of the BEBESEA network have worked with her for many years, and we know that she is a true inspiration to so many labour rights, migrant rights and women’s rights activists around the world.
Elizabeth was arrested by Hong Kong’s national security police, after visiting her husband, Lee Cheuk-yan, a former lawmaker and also a co-founder of HKCTU, who is imprisoned under the National Security Law alongside with other pro-democratic advocates for their involvement in an unauthorised assembly. Elizabeth was later released on bail two days after the arrest and is awaiting for her case to unfold. Local media reports that she is suspected of “colluding with foreign forces” to endanger national security*. We are also concerned about the cases of her sister Marilyn Tang and lawyer Frederick Ho Chun-ki, who were also arrested following Elizabeth’s arrest and are currently out on bail.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) clearly states that no one should be to be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile (Article 9); everyone has the right to freedom of thoughts, conscience and religion (Article 18), the right to freedom of opinions and expression (Article 19), the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association (Article 20) as well as the right to form and to join trade unions (Article 23). Any measures taken to limit and derogate democratic and peaceful expressions and other human rights under the pretext of the existence of “threats to its national security” must be in line with Siracusa Principles on the Limitation and Derogation Provisions in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which set out a number of conditions that must be met in order for limitations or derogations of rights to be lawful under international law.
17th March 2023
Better Engagement Between East and Southeast Asia (BEBESEA)