Pop star Denise Ho called for China's removal from the UN Human Rights Council over Hong Kong, and a Chinese diplomat tried to shut her down
- Denise Ho, a singer and activist from Hong Kong, spoke before the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday, expressing concerns about China's "tightening grip" on Hong Kong.
- Hong Kong residents have been protesting a bill that would see people accused of serious crimes extradited to mainland China for trial.
- Ho called for China to be removed from the Human Rights Council at the end of her speech, which was twice interrupted by the Chinese delegate.
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Hong Kong singer and activist Denise Ho issued a sharp rebuke to China on Monday, calling for the country to be removed from the United Nations Human Rights Council during a meeting of the international body in Geneva, Switzerland.
Ho, a popular Cantopop singer and LGBT activist, called on the Human Rights Council to remove China from the body, specifically citing a controversial extradition bill, under which citizens of Hong Kong would be extradited to mainland China for trial.Hong Kong enjoys relative freedom in comparison to China; although it is technically part of China, it operates under the "one party, two systems" plan put in place when the UK pledged to hand over the island to China. Under this system Hong Kong retained its legal system and police force, and has its own political system where citizens can vote for vetted candidates. China represents Hong Kong diplomatically and is charged with defending the island.
Ho documented the protests that have been taking place in Hong Kong since the massively unpopular extradition bill was proposed. Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong's citizens have turned out to protest the bill.
Ho's brief speech expressed activists' fears about China's "tightening grip" on Hong Kong. "We are all in danger in Hong Kong because we're on the edge of becoming another [Chinese] city where we would lose our freedom of speech," she said.
Ho mentioned the injuries to and arrests of unarmed protesters, as well as the apparent suicides that have taken place during the protests, calling on the United Nations to "convene an urgent session to protect the people of Hong Kong."
Ho took the opportunity in her brief speech to call for China to be removed from the Human Rights Council, a call that's been echoed by other Hong Kong activists."I think it is quite obvious that China has a really bad human rights situation, especially with the implementation of the social credit system, and also the massive scale of the concentration camps in Xinjiang," Nathan Law, a standing committee member of Demosisto, an activist group in Hong Kong calling for democratic self-determination, told INSIDER via WhatsApp. Law referred to the containment of Uighur ethnic group members in internment camps, which the Chinese government refers to as "re-education camps."
"I think it is a fair comment that they should get kicked out from the Human Rights Council," Law said. No country has ever been removed from the Human Rights Council, but Libya and the United States have both voluntarily withdrawn.
The Chinese representative, Dai Demao, twice interrupted Ho's speech, calling for a point of order because he believed Ho was discussing Hong Kong and China on the same level, The Hong Kong Free Press reported. Dai referred to Ho's language as an "affront" to China and requested that Ho be asked to use the proper terminology when referring to the relationship between Hong Kong and China.
Rolando Gomez, a spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Council, told INSIDER via email that "points of order at the Council are not terribly uncommon."
"That said, there are indeed views expressed by NGO speakers (such as Ms. Ho), and States alike, which offend states and thus trigger the points of order attempting to shut the speaker down," he said.
"While not all views expressed at the Council are subscribed to by all in attendance, it is important to note that the Council provides a unique space to hear a wide range of views, including those that often don't get attention they often deserve."
Ho's activism has caused her to lose out on the Chinese market; she was barred from performing there after calling for more democratic elections in Hong Kong in 2014, and her music has been removed from Chinese streaming sites, The New York Times reported earlier in July.
On Tuesday, the current Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, announced that the extradition bill was "dead." Protesters are demanding that Lam formally withdraw the bill from parliamentary consideration, as well as drop charges against detained protestors and resign her post, according to The Wall Street Journal."Of course, people are not satisfied with the answer," Law told INSIDER.
"It's important that Carrie Lam answer in exact term and then put this as a legal proceeding," he said, calling on Lam to formally withdraw the extradition bill.
Gomez told INSIDER that recent developments regarding the extradition bill have "been focused on by several delegations and NGOs during the current HRC session, including the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, who encouraged the authorities to consult broadly before passing or amending the extradition bill or any other legislation."
Ho did not respond to INSIDER's request for comment.