Lawmakers & rights activists urge UNHRC’s Nazhat Khan to call urgent session on Hong Kong

Hong Kong's Stand News outlet shuts down after police raid | Freedom of the Press News | Al Jazeera

Photo: Stand News acting Chief Editor Patrick Lam is escorted by police as they leave after the police searched his office in Hong Kong [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

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. (See list below)

 

_________

JOINT APPEAL FOR SPECIAL SESSION ON THE GRAVE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN HONG KONG

 

Nazhat Shameem Wilson
President, Human Rights Council
Palais Wilson
52 Rue des Pâquis
CH-1201 Geneva
Switzerland

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.

Sincerely,

Leo Housakos, Member of the Senate, Canada

Thanh Hai Ngo, Member of the Senate, Canada

Marilou McPhedran, Member of the Senate, Canada

Heather McPherson, Member of Parliament, Canada

Garnett Genuis, Member of Parliament, Canada

Jenny Kwan, Member of Parliament, Canada

Christopher H. Smith, Member of Congress, United States

Louisa Wall, Member of Parliament, New Zealand

Chris Patten, Member of Parliament, United Kingdom

Layla Moran, Member of Parliament, United Kingdom

Raphael Glucksmann, Member of European Parliament, France

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

Nathan Law, human rights activist, Hong Kong

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

Greg Scarlatoiu, human rights activist, United States

Hillel Neuer, United Nations Watch, Switzerland

Tsuneko Kakiuchi, Japanese Association for the Right to Freedom of Speech, Japan

Thierry Valle, Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience, France

Heidi Basch-Harod, Women’s Voices Now, United States

Lucica Humenuc, Romanian Independent Society for Human Rights, Romania

Sadikh Niass, La Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme, Senegal

Yves Laurin, Comité Français pour l’Afrique du Sud, France

Anye Hillary Fru, Tort for Torture Victims Centre, Cameroon

Oluronke Olohigbe Ikoroh, Society to Heighten Awareness of Women and Children Abuse, Nigeria

Zia Ur Rehman, Awaz Centre for Development Sciences, Pakistan

Mohammad Safi Ul Aalm, Youth Foundation of Bangladesh, Bangladesh

Kelechukwu Okezie, Neighbourhood Environment Watch Foundation, Nigeria

Sethi Bnasal, The Council of Technical Education & Training, India

Mahendranath Busgopaul, Halley Movement for Social and Community Development, Mauritius

Olatunji Abayomi Tunji, Entrepreneurship Development and Support Initiative, Nigeria

Ngan Tonye François Simon Pierre, Association des Ressortissants et Amis d’Eseka, Cameroon

Didier Kiyanga, Coup de Pouce, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Brunhilde Schram, CSR Dialogforums, Austria

Sajad Ahmed, Society for Human Advancement and Disadvantaged Empowerment, Pakistan

Richard Ntakirutimana, African Initiative for Mankind Progress Organization, Rwanda

Rudi Bester, Memory Trees Corporation, United States

Guy Aurelien Biantsissila, Genesis Congo, Congo

Allan Kalish, Global Distribution Advocates, United States

Neil Belanger, British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society, Canada

Jideofor Umeh, Ugonma Foundation, Nigeria

Souad Talsi, Al-Hasaniya Moroccan Women’s Centre, United Kingdom

Morenike Omaiboje, Women’s Consortium of Nigeria, Nigeria

Jane E. Durgom-Powers, Families of the Missing, United States

Alison Judd, World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women, United Kingdom

Yoro Sow, Association Malienne de Savoir Construire, France

Aisha Ahmed, Murna Foundation, Nigeria

Brian Bond, Edmund Rice International, Switzerland

Ashok Yende, Global Vision India Foundation, India

Aminu Zakari, Centre for Climate Change and Environmental Study, Nigeria

Starry Krueger, Rural Development Leadership Network, United States

Momo Allison Bianda, National Old Folks of Liberia, Liberia

René Lachapelle, Groupe d’Économie Solidaire du Québec, Canada

Uwem Robert Otu, African Youth Movement, Nigeria

Esther Omam, Reach Out, Cameroon

Doua Guehi Michel, SOS Éducation, Côte d’Ivoire

Shahzada Ibrahim, Northern Citizen Community Board, Pakistan

A A Mustafa, Barzani Charity Foundation, Iraq

Augustine Onwuamaegbu, Persons with Disability Initiative, Nigeria

Robert Kibaya, Kikandwa Rural Communities Development Organization, Uganda

Ilunga Wa Ilunga Alain, Bureau Pour la Croissance Intégrale et la Dignité de l’Enfant, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Samson Adefioye, National Council of Child Rights Advocates, Nigeria

Radjou Georges, Business Innovation Research Development, France

Walid Maalouf, The Lebanese American Resistance Partnership, United States

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