ITF calls for the immediate release of 53 activists arrested in Hong Kong

January 6, 2021

The International Transport Workers’ Federation demands the immediate release of 53 activists arrested this morning in Hong Kong under the National Security Law for allegedly “subverting state power” by holding primaries for pro-democracy candidates in the postponed Hong Kong elections.

Among those detained is Carol Ng, Chair of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions. A dedicated trade union activist, Carol is respected globally for her work supporting aviation workers.

“Carol’s arrest, along with that of 52 other activists, is an outrageous attack on workers that will only breed more resistance. Their arrest represents a serious violation of fundamental human rights and freedom of speech, as well as the further erosion of democracy in Hong Kong,” said ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton.

“The ITF demands the Hong Kong government immediately release all 53 individuals. As Carol holds British nationality, we also demand the British government take urgent steps to secure the release of one of its citizens.”

“Restrictions on free speech and the right to assembly strike at the heart of the principle of freedom of association. The ITF condemns the use of the National Security Law to silence and intimidate trade union leaders and other activists. Any law that criminalises the rights to freedom of assembly and expression protected under international human rights law, must be revoked – and we call on the Hong Kong government to repeal the National Security Law,” said Cotton.

Carol was a member of the now closed British Airways cabin crew base in Hong Kong and General Secretary of the British Airways Hong Kong International Cabin Crew Association (BAHKICCA), an ITF affiliate. When the base closed in 2018, Carol mobilised international solidarity to ensure that cabin crew rights were respected throughout the process. As a result of their campaign, cabin crew received redundancy payments that reflected their contribution to the airline.

Her commitment to workers’ rights and international solidarity runs deep. At the 2018 ITF Congress in Singapore, BAHKICCA donated solidarity funds they had received from their BA colleagues in the UK during base closure. These were funds used to support the struggles of other aviation workers in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Carol has also played a pivotal role in supporting other cabin crew in Hong Kong in their struggles to unionise and bargain collectively.

Joseph Tiberi, chair of the ITF Civil Aviation Section, vowed to mobilise solidarity from every corner of the globe to secure the freedom of Carol Ng and the other 52 arrested activists.

“Carol’s arrest is an attack on one of our own. Carol has stood with aviation workers struggles across the world and now we vow to stand by her. The ITF and all its affiliates, especially civil aviation unions, will mobilise in solidarity with her and the 52 other activists. We will not stop till they walk free,” said Tiberi.

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