By UN Watch, Geneva December 30, 2021 — An international coalition of 70 lawmakers, human rights activists and representatives of UN-accredited non-governmental organizations today urged the chair of the UN’s top human rights body to convene a special session on “the grave and deteriorating situation of human rights in Hong Kong,” in wake of the latest arrests of independent journalists. (See full text of appeal below.)
The appeal called on Nazhat Shameem Khan, president of the 47-nation United Nations Human Rights Council, “to condemn the government of China for the relentless persecution of journalists, human rights activists and dissenting voices in Hong Kong,” and to convene an urgent session on human rights in Hong Kong.
Under UN procedures, Khan, the ambassador of Fiji, would only need to obtain support from 15 additional council members to convene a session in Geneva tomorrow, on Friday, December 31, 2021.
“I know it’s the holidays, but when one Hong Kong journalist after another is being taken away, arrested, charged and imprisoned, democracy as we know it is under threat, and I expect delegates to put their duties and human rights commitments first,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a non-governmental Geneva-based human rights group, and one of the signatories.
The appeal to UNHRC president Khan also urges her “to ensure adequate protection from intimidation or reprisals for all individuals from Hong Kong or mainland China who seek to cooperate or have cooperated with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights.”
The global coalition supporting today’s appeal for UN action includes U.S. Congressman Chris Smith, Co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, and several members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China including New Zealand MP Louisa Wall, Canada’s Senator Leo Housakos, MP Garnett Genuis and former justice minister Irwin Cotler, as well as human rights activists, dissidents, former political prisoners and humanitarian organizations from Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.
JOINT APPEAL FOR SPECIAL SESSION ON THE GRAVE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN HONG KONG
Nazhat Shameem Wilson
President, Human Rights Council
52 Rue des Pâquis
30 December 2021
Dear President Khan,
We, an international coalition of lawmakers, human rights activists, former political prisoners and representatives of UN-accredited non-governmental organizations, urge you as President of the United Nations Human Rights Council to call for an urgent Special Session into the grave and deteriorating situation of human rights in Hong Kong.
Yesterday, Hong Kong human rights activist Denise Ho and six other individuals associated with the pro-democracy media outlet Stand News were arrested by the city’s national security police for “conspiracy to publish seditious material.”
Some 200 police officers raided the Stand News offices and seized journalistic materials, raising further concerns about diminishing press freedoms following the imposition of a sweeping National Security Law on the city in 2020. As a result, Stand News has dismissed all its staff and shut down its operations.
As you may know, Denise Ho is a pop star who became an international face of Hong Hong’s pro-democracy movement when she famously addressed the Human Rights Council in July 2019. In her UN testimony, covered live worldwide, she urged your agency to “protect the people of Hong Kong” and remove China from the council. She argued that China had reneged on the commitments it made when it took control of Hong Kong in 1997, echoing the concerns of millions of Hong Kongers protesting at the time.
During Ms. Ho’s UN address, Chinese diplomats repeatedly interrupted, accusing her of violating the UN constitution and of “baselessly” attacking Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” model of governance.
According to news reports, Hong Kong national security police spent more than two hours at Ms. Ho’s home during their raid yesterday in which they seized phones and computers, as well as Ms. Ho’s identification card and passport. She was arrested and taken to a police station. Today, Ms. Ho was released on police bail pending further investigations.
There are grounds to believe that the arrest of Ms. Ho by Beijing-controlled Hong Kong authorities constitutes a form of illegal reprisal for her United Nations testimony and other human rights advocacy.
Also released today on police bail pending further investigations were former democratic legislator and barrister Margaret Ng, Chow Tat-chi and Christine Fang. However, a Hong Kong court denied bail applications for former Stand News chief editor Chung Pui-kuen and acting chief editor Patrick Lam. In addition, Chung’s wife, Chan Pui-man, formerly a senior editor with the pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper, was re-arrested in prison, where she is already being held on different charges.
Excellency, we urge you to condemn the government of China for the relentless persecution of journalists, human rights activists and dissenting voices in Hong Kong, and to call for the convening of a Special Session to establish a Commission of Inquiry into the grave and deteriorating situation of human rights in Hong Kong.
We further urge you to ensure adequate protection from intimidation or reprisals for all individuals from Hong Kong or mainland China who seek to cooperate or have cooperated with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights.
Leo Housakos, Member of the Senate, Canada
Garnett Genuis, Member of Parliament, Canada
Christopher H. Smith, Member of Congress, United States
Louisa Wall, Member of Parliament, New Zealand
Hon. Irwin Cotler, Chair Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, former Minister of Justice & Attorney General, Canada
Ambassador Diego Arria, former President of the United Nations Security Council, Venezuela
Dr. Yang Jianli, former political prisoner in China & President of Initiatives for China, United States
Kylie Moore-Gilbert, former political prisoner in Iran, Australia
Glacier Kwong, human rights activist, Hong Kong
Jewher Ilham, Uyghur activist, United States
Kaveh Shahrooz, human rights activist, Canada
Duy Hoang, Viet Tan spokesperson, Vietnam
Jihyun Park, North Korean human rights activist, United Kingdom
Berta Valle, activist & wife of imprisoned ac tivist Félix Maradiaga, Nicaragua
Benedict Rogers, CEO of Hong Kong Watch, United Kingdom
Finn Lau, Founder of Stand with Hong Kong, United Kingdom
Carmen Lau, human rights activist, Hong Kong
Ray Wong, human rights activist, Hong Kong
Joey Siu, human rights activist, Hong Kong
Hillel Neuer, United Nations Watch, Switzerland
First published by UN Watch.