Amnesty International has announced that it is closing its two offices in Hong Kong this year.

The announcement was published on the organization's website It said the local organization, Amnesty International Hong Kong, would close on October 31.

The organization said that the international organization's regional office in the city would close by the end of 2021. Its responsibilities would be assigned to other Amnesty International offices in the region. Amnesty Internation stressed that it would continue to monitor the human rights situation in Hong Kong.

'Fear of serious reprisals'

The announcement quoted the organization's leader, Anjhula Mya Singh Bais, as saying the decision to leave was a consequence of "Hong Kong's national security law. Made it effectively impossible for human rights organizations in Hong Kong to work freely and without fear of serious reprisals from the government."

A link to the announcement was posted on Twitter on October 25.

Government denies pressuring the organization

The local government denies that the national security law was responsible for Amnesty International's decision to leave the former British colony, according to a report in the Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) on October 26.

HKFP quoted the head of the government, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, insisting that "there is no way that one could prove that this is exactly the reason" for the organization's departure.

The HKFP also quoted Lam saying the city's laws protected fundamental human rights "so no organizations should be worried about their legitimate operations in Hong Kong." The news organization said that 2021 had seen more than 50 citizen groups dissolve due to fear of the vague law being enforced in a broad, unpredictable manner.

Most arrests under national security law are for non-violent offenses

The Guardian recalled that over 150 people had been arrested under the national security law in Hong Kong. Most of those arrests had been for non-violent offenses involving speech about political matters, the paper said. The paper added that the local government had repeatedly turned down requests for clear explanations about what was punishable under the law.

The BBC noted that some Hong Kong citizen organizations, such as the New School for Democracy, had responded to the law by moving to Taiwan. The network reported that Amnesty International had been active in the city for over 40 years.

The Voice of America (VOA) recalled that China had imposed the law on Hong Kong after protests against the government in 2019. The VOA, which the US government funds, noted that the law had led to some books being pulled from libraries and pro-democracy slogans being outlawed.