Remarks by Jianli Yang, UN Watch Press Conference, New York, October 3, 2022, concerning the Complaint filed against the UN Human Rights Council’s senior official Eric Tistounet for systematically targeting UN Watch.
The fact that we cannot hold this event inside the UN headquarters speaks volumes about the question we’re asking today: Does the United Nations have the will or means to provide a voice for the voiceless?
This question is particularly grave when it comes to the oppressed people living under tyrannical autocracies such as the Chinese government that does represent the people of China at home or at the United Nations.
UN Watch has been instrumental in helping victims of human rights violations from around the world speak truth to power. It has lent a voice to the voiceless and empowered the powerless. And it tries to do everything in its capacity to help the UN defend its Charter and the UN Human Rights Council uphold its principles.
But unfortunately, the secretariat of the UN Human Rights Council is now aggressively engaging in discriminatory actions against this UN-accredited NGO, attempting to silence it and the voice it helps bring to the UN — the very voice that should be heard and yet would not otherwise be heard by the UN and the world.
The secretariat of the UN Human Rights Council, by doing so, is in effect helping the world’s dictators in their efforts to dampen criticism of their human rights abuses and weaken the UN’s ability to foster better human-rights conditions. This is a very serious issue that deserves the immediate attention and actions of the world’s democracies.
It’s no surprise that the Chinese government seeks to obstruct human rights activists’ participation in UN processes. What is surprising, however, is the UN’s handling of such situations.
According to the courageous whistleblower Emma Reilly the Chinese government regularly submits a list of individuals that it portrays as “security threats” and requests that the UN inform the Chinese Mission in Geneva if any of these individuals are accredited as participants for the upcoming Human Rights Council session.
The UN Human Rights Office has cooperated with China for many years by sharing the names of activists — including Uighurs, Tibetans, Hongkongers and Chinese dissidents — who took part in UN activities, including myself.
In 2013, as an accredited NGO participant at the UN General Assembly, I was forcefully ejected from the UN headquarters while attending a forum challenging China’s membership qualification for the Human Rights Council.
Before speaking as an accredited NGO speaker at the March 2018 UN Human Rights Council session, I was aggressively photographed by Chinese officials.
In March 2019, I was stopped by UN security officials at the Palace of Nations in Geneva for the “reason” that I didn’t hold a passport of any UN member country.
The UN’s actions have endangered not only myself but also my family. Each time I participate in UN activities, my relatives in China are harassed, surveilled, interrogated, and subjected to psychological abuse.
The UN’s kowtowing to China shows how powerful member-states are able to work within the UN system to undermine its ability to enforce compliance with global human rights standards.
The UN should be held accountable for such spineless, cowardly, irresponsible and corrupt practices.