Groups representing the medical, education and media sectors made a joint declaration yesterday vowing to defend professional autonomy against government suppression.
Seven unions and organizations - including the Hospital Authority Employees Alliance, Hong Kong Journalists Association, Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union, and Hong Kong Social Workers' General Union - joined the declaration.
"Since the anti-fugitive bill movement last year, we have seen the authorities trample our professions with lies and violence," the declaration said.
"In recent months, the situation has gotten even worse, as the government is now destroying industry norms."
At a press conference yesterday, the chairwoman of the Hospital Authority Employees Alliance, Winnie Yu Wai-ming, said the alliance had been targeted after it staged a strike in February demanding the closure of borders with the mainland.
"We went on strike because we wanted to prevent an outbreak," Yu said, adding that border closure was the only way to prevent the virus from spreading in the SAR.
"But what do we get in return? The government's suppression of us."
Yu said the Hospital Authority hired a team of legal advisers to target medical workers who joined the strike and prevent them from getting promoted.
She slammed the government for refusing to suspend cross-boundary travel with the mainland due to political reasons and ignoring their professional suggestions.
"The authorities refused to solve the problem. Instead, they repressed people who brought up the issue," Yu said.
Meanwhile, HKJA chairman Chris Yeung Kin-hing expressed concern over the government's tightening grip on journalists.
Yeung cited examples including the police's revision of the definition of "media representatives" and RTHK producer Bao Choy Yuk-ling's arrest for conducting vehicle registration searches.
"These cases are signs indicating the government is setting barriers for journalists who want to pursue the truth," he said.
He warned that journalists could face more restrictions in the future, affecting the media's ability to operate independently and report on injustice in society.
An executive committee member of the Professional Teachers' Union, Kwan Ho-kwan, pointed out that teachers are also facing suppression after two teachers had their registration canceled.
"The Education Bureau always asks teachers to respect their profession, but the one who has the least respect for the education sector is the Education Bureau," Kwan said.
The groups urged the authorities to stop their intervention and appealed to citizens from professional sectors to defend their professional autonomy.