Amnesty Fights Back With Books Against Hong Kong Censorship

The Hong Kong branch of the human rights organization Amnesty International has been using books to illustrate the injustice of censorship laws in a pop-up bookstore, on the 16th and 17th of this month.

The store in the center of Hong Kong was part of the week-long art exhibition ‘Amnesty Carnival,’ held February the 16th-26th, involving both local and global artists to help promote freedom of expression. More than 1,000 books were for sale, with purposely blacked out passages to illustrate the implications of censorship in a practical sense.

Source: Fast CoExist

Source: Fast CoExist

This demonstration follows a series of arrests and closures of booksellers and stores in Honk Kong as a result of the sale of controversial books that are currently banned in mainland China. Despite being part of China, Honk Kong has a separate political system, which has laws that protect freedom of expression. Mass protests on these grounds against the closures and censorship have done little to help the situation, leading to this current attention from Amnesty.

Using these laws on freedom of expression, Amnesty has also produced a series of short films, such as the one below, where artists illustrate controversial scenes that are then shown to disappear, as the footage is reversed. As explained by Mabel Au, director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, the films demonstrate the way that “when rights vanish, so does the truth.” The text at the beginning of the film is a direct quote from the Hong Kong laws of freedom of expression, reading:

“Hong Kong residents shall have freedom of speech, of the press and publication; freedom of association, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration; and the right and freedom to form trade unions, and to strike.”

YouTube Channel: Amnesty International Hong Kong

As part of this campaign, Amnesty has partnered with the Hong Kong Free Press which has added a feature to its homepage which allows you to temporarily censor all of its news, as a dramatic illustration of the reality of censorship. This reflects the very real threat to free news in Honk Kong, as well as freedom of expression concerning books, following the former editor of the Honk Kong newspaper Ming Pao being attacked in an alleged retaliation for his paper’s piece on Chinese leaders and their offshore bank accounts in 2014. As explained by Au:

“Everyday we see reports of journalists who are facing censorship, or not reporting ‘sensitive’ issues, while some journalists are being fired, threatened, or even physically attacked due to their role in reporting.”

Hopefully, this campaign will draw further attention to the need to uphold Honk Kong’s laws on freedom of expression, to keep both books and the news free from censorship.

YouTube Channel:


Featured image via Marketing Interactive

h/t Fast CoExist