Democracies Rally to Defense of Daughter of Jailed Leader
Clash at UN: China Tries to Stop Testimony by Daughter of Jailed Democracy Leader Wang Bingzhang; Democracies Rally to Her Defense
GENEVA, March 18, 2014 - China today interrupted testimony at the United Nations Human Rights Council by the daughter one of its most well-known political prisoners, prompting a high-profile international clash in the plenary, as the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Ireland, Hungary, Switzerland and the Czech Republic squared off against China, Cuba, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela on whether she could be allowed to continue her remarks.
Speaking today on behalf of the non-governmental human rights group UN Watch, Ti-Anna Wang, the 24-year-old Canadian daughter of jailed Chinese democracy leader Dr. Wang Bingzhang, took the floor at the 47-nation council one day before it is set to adopt a major report on China's human rights record.
Only one minute after Ms. Wang began her testimony, the Chinese delegate, supported by successive interventions by four other authoritarian regimes, objected that Ms. Wang was only permitted to address abstract "situations of human rights," but not specific cases such as her father's imprisonment.
The U.S. delegate, the first to defend UN Watch, said that "accredited NGOs must be permitted to speak in the council," adding that "it is essential that civil society voices be heard here in an atmosphere of open expression."
In a rare chorus of voices defending NGOs' right to speak, Britain, France, Ireland, Hungary, Switzerland and the Czech Republic each took the floor to likewise defend UN Watch's right to speak.
In the end, Human Rights Council president Baudelaire Ndong Ella ruled that UN Watch had the right to address specific examples, and he gave the floor back to Ms. Wang, allowing her to complete her statement.
"While it is scandalous that China and other dictatorships were just elected as members to the UN Human Rights Council, today this forum also managed to be a platform for the voices of the victims, not only the perpetrators," said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer.
Ti-Anna Wang was born and raised in Montreal, Canada, and is a graduate of McGill University. She has dedicated the past 12 years of her life to trying to free her father, the founder of China's overseas democracy movement, who has been serving a life sentence in China since 2002.
Ms. Wang's personal story inspired the heroine in the recent novel Nine Days, written by Washington Post editor Fred Hiatt.
Her first name commemorates the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre in Beijing, led by students seeking democracy and human rights. The 25th anniversary of the massacre will be marked