Over 90 organisations and 70 individuals have signed a joint statement released by NGO Justice Centre, calling for the Hong Kong community and government to work together to stop discrimination towards refugees.

Signatories to a statement entitled “Stop Discrimination: Community calls for calm on refugee debate” – include lawmakers, lawyers, academics and other notable local figures across different sectors, such as Professor Johannes Chan, District Councillor Paul Zimmerman, and comedian Vivek Mahbubani. It was also signed by American linguist and political author Noam Chomsky.

signatories to justice centre statement
Signatories to the statement include: Paul Zimmerman, Puja Kapai, Vivek Mahbubani, Emily Lau, Noam Chomsky, Johannes Chan, Kelley Loper, and Claudia Mo.

“We, the undersigned individuals and organizations, are increasingly concerned that recent inaccurate and irresponsible comments made regarding the refugee issue in Hong Kong are divisive and inflammatory,” the statement read.

The statement also criticised proposals such as withdrawing Hong Kong from the UN Convention Against Torture and building closed detention camps as “ill-advised, disproportionate and rash”.

justice centre press conference
A panel discussion attended by Justice Centre representative Victoria Wisniewski Otero, lawyers Mark Daly and Earl Deng, human rights activist Law Yuk-kai, and pan-democratic lawmakers Dennis Kwok, Fernando Cheung and Emily Lau. Photo: Justice Centre Hong Kong via Facebook.

See also: The nameless and faceless outliers struggling to stay afloat in a broken refugee system

“Not only would withdrawal from UNCAT fail to address the concerns raised about the refugee situation, but it would roll back the rights and protections of every resident of Hong Kong against being tortured, or exposed to other abuse,” it said.

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An Oriental Daily story makes reference to “fake” refugees. Photo: On.cc.

“We are therefore now calling upon all parties, including the Hong Kong Government, to work together collaboratively in ensuring that a message goes out that is loud and clear – discrimination has no place in our society. We must not allow fear-mongering and short-sighted politics to erode human rights and the rule of law in Hong Kong.”

The statement was issued at a press conference at the Legislative Council Complex on Monday afternoon.

“Hong Kong is proud of diversity. It’s easy to attack the weakest in society. This has gone too far. It’s time to calm down,” Democratic Party Chairwoman Emily Lau said at the panel discussion. “We must take care of all ethnic minorities. Refugees come to Hong Kong for help. We must not discriminate.”

According to figures released by the Immigration Department, as of December 2015 there are currently 10,922 refugees with outstanding non-refoulement claims in Hong Kong. They are screened under the Unified Screening Mechanism, which was put in place in March 2014.

fake refugee DAB
Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Last Friday, the pro-Beijing DAB party campaigned outside a mosque in Tsim Sha Tsui, calling for “fake” refugees to be deported.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.