19 April 2016
Press release: STOP DISCRIMINATION: COMMUNITY CALLS FOR CALM ON REFUGEE DEBATE
STOP DISCRIMINATION: COMMUNITY CALLS FOR CALM ON REFUGEE DEBATE
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. These comments are fueling a climate of fear and hostility towards both refugees and
ethnic minorities alike, and run the risk of fracturing Hong Kong’s diverse and vibrant community. If
negative stereotyping and hostile attitudes are repeatedly placed in the public eye in this way,
xenophobia and discrimination against both refugees and ethnic minorities will continue to increase.
For this reason we cannot in good conscience allow this to continue – it is undermining Hong Kong’s
social harmony. Instead, care must be taken not to exaggerate the refugee situation, nor to legitimize
any form of discrimination. In shared concern, we are joined together to send out a call for calm. The
politics of fear do not belong in Hong Kong. It is time for a sober and more reasoned approach.
We acknowledge that concerns have been raised following an increase in the number of protection
claimants in Hong Kong and apparent abuses of the system. These concerns must be listened to, but
matters must be kept in perspective, and international law should be upheld. In fact, Hong Kong
actually has low levels of refugees. There is nothing remotely like a crisis and there is no need to
search for dramatic measures – instead we must face up to the need to reduce delays, and to address
the obvious inefficiencies in the Unified Screening Mechanism (‘USM’) system. These are complex
problems, and so require nuanced approaches as well as constructive and informed dialogue, rather
than resorting to divisions and blame.
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