Standing in solidarity with Hong Kong social workers

The Human Services Information Technology Association (husITa) has a long-standing relationship with the people of Hong Kong. Social work academics and practitioners from Hong Kong are frequent contributors to our journal and the city has hosted two of our most successful conferences. For many years, Hong Kong academics have served as members of the board of husITa and on the editorial board of our journal.

In this context, it is with grave concern that we note the escalating levels of violence associated with the mass street protests that have continued since June, and the call by the Hong Kong Association of Social Workers (HKSWA) for international solidarity.

In particular, we note the statement by Ms Irene Leung, President of the Hong Kong Association of Social Workers (HKSWA) highlighting that over 3,200 people have been arrested, including over 20 social workers. Also, that there is widespread suppression and confrontation between police and students on university campuses. An investigative report by Amnesty International found that Hong Kong police have carried out arbitrary arrests, using excessive force, including beatings, torture and other forms of ill-treatment. Disturbingly, there has been one recent allegation of the rape of a protestor held at a police station.

As an organisation with a commitment to the ethical use of information technology we also note with concern the allegations that private information from hospital databases has been accessed by police and the widespread concern of protestors that their movements are surveilled by facial recognition systems.

Considering all of the above, husITa notes and fully supports the joint advocacy plan – agreed by the Hong Kong Association of Social Workers, the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, the Hong Kong Social Workers General Union and Shiu Ka Chun – to:

  • Condemn the excessive use of force by the Hong Kong Police that is putting lives in jeopardy and oppressing people for exercising their human rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.
  • Recognize the mission and value of social workers providing humanitarian support to protestors and the public and protect them from the risk of harm and false arrest.
  • Set-up an independent commission of inquiry to give a true, fair and just judgement of the protest movement and the conduct of the Police.
  • husITa stands with the HKSWA in repudiating all violence and in the belief that hatred and violence from either side in this conflict will not lead to the peaceful resolution required by the people of Hong Kong.

Statement approved by the husITa Board on 20th November 2019

Image credit: Etan Liam