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UN rebukes Hong Kong lawmaker after human rights appeal

GENEVA, Sept. 16, 2019 – The UN Human Rights Council, where China is a member and was host last week of a large exhibit extolling "human rights happiness" in China, chastised Hong Kong lawmaker Tanya Chan after her testimony today on police brutality against protesters, with the session chair saying her remarks fell outside the framework of the agenda item on “promotion and protection of all human rights.”

“I would like to appeal to the speaker to frame the statement within the context of the agenda item strictly,” said Carlos Mario Foradori, vice-president of the 47-nation body and ambassador of Argentina, immediately after Ms. Chan completed her speech.

Human rights activists were alarmed by the council's rebuke. “On the contrary, nothing could be more pressing or fitting for a human rights debate than eyewitness testimony about police brutality against Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters, journalists and regular citizens,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the non-governmental human rights group UN Watch, which invited Ms. Chan to speak.

"The UN should apologize for siding with the perpetrator, instead of with the victims and with human rights heroes like pro-democracy leader Tanya Chan," said Neuer.

UN Watch & Hong Kong

In July, when UN Watch, an accredited non-governmental organization at the UN, invited Hong Kong singer and pro-democracy activist Denise Ho to address the 47-nation UNHRC, China interrupted repeatedly to try to stop the testimony.

Founded in 1993, UN Watch leads a coalition of 25 human rights NGOs that holds the annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, a global gathering of activists who support dissidents and political prisoners.


Testimony of Hon. Tanya Chan, on behalf of UN Watch

Mr. President,

I am Tanya Chan, speaking as a Hong Kong legislator, activist and lawyer.

Hong Kong is on the verge of a humanitarian crisis, as police brutality against supporters of the democratic movement escalates.

Arrested protesters face physical abuse and humiliation by the police. A female protester openly spoke of an unnecessary and degrading strip search she went through. More sexual abuse cases remain unreported. Detained protesters were denied timely access to medical and legal assistance.

Use of force is excessive and indiscriminate. The police shot a beanbag round at a first-aider and blinded one of her eyes. The riot police attacked innocent subway passengers whom they claimed were rioters in disguise. As of now the police has fired more than 2000 tear gas cans.

The police call protesters “cockroaches”. Brutal crackdowns and pre-emptive violence against them are hence regarded as acceptable pest control to curb free speech.

Today marks the one-hundredth day of the movement, but there is no sign the police will exercise restraint. This is a result of the lack of democracy in Hong Kong, as the government is not held accountable for its endorsement of police abuse.

Will the High Commissioner [Michelle Bachelet] support our appeal for this Council to convene an urgent session and establish a Commission of Inquiry, to ensure human rights for the people of Hong Kong?

Why is China sitting here as a member of this Human Rights Council?

Thank you.


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