Senator Jeff Merkley announced yesterday that the U.S. Senate has unanimously passed his bipartisan legislation that would ban the U.S. export of crowd control munitions and equipment to the Hong Kong Police Force for one year. The legislation, which is co-led by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), follows documented reports by human rights groups that U.S.-made police equipment has been used by Hong Kong police to violate the human rights of peaceful protesters during Hong Kong’s ongoing pro-democracy demonstrations.
“Today, the U.S. Senate sent a strong and bipartisan message that the United States will not be complicit in the Chinese authorities’ crackdown on pro-democracy protesters,” said Merkley. “Day after day, we are seeing peaceful protesters being subjected to state-sponsored oppression, violence, and human rights abuses for demonstrating in support of a democratic future for Hong Kong.
The legislation is also cosponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Rick Scott (R-FL), Chris Coons (D-DE), Roger F. Wicker (R-MS), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), James M. Inhofe (R-OK), Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-NY), Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mike Braun (R-IN), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).
Since June, residents of Hong Kong have been regularly staging public demonstrations in support of pro-democracy reforms. In recent months, the Hong Kong Police Force has cracked down on the protesters with increasing force.
As the demonstrations have continued, Amnesty International has documented incidents in which Hong Kong police used U.S.-made equipment against protesters. The Merkley-Cornyn bill would prohibit the U.S. export to Hong Kong’s police of:
- Tear gas;
- Pepper spray;
- Rubber bullets;
- Foam rounds;
- Bean bag rounds;
- Pepper balls;
- Water cannons;
- Stun guns;
- and Tasers.
In light of these abuses, Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have called upon the U.S. government to suspend exports of crowd control products to Hong Kong. The Senators’ bipartisan legislation meets this call, and would help ensure that American-made products are not being used to enable human rights violations abroad.