UNHRC Chair Nazhat Khan Must Condemn Arrest of Hong Kong Activist Denise Ho, Rights Groups Urge

GENEVA, December 28, 2021 — UN Human Rights Council president Nazhat Shameem Khan should condemn today’s arrest of Hong Kong singer and pro-democracy activist Denise Ho, and convene an urgent session of the 47-nation body, said human rights groups in an appeal.

“Denise Ho famously addressed the Human Rights Council about Beijing’s repression in Hong Kong, where she was repeatedly interrupted by China, and she has been an outspoken advocate for democracy. Now they are retaliating against her. Council president Khan has a moral duty to speak out and demand Ho’s immediate release,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the independent non-governmental human rights group UN Watch, the Geneva-based group which, together with Human Rights Foundation, invited the activist to testify in July 2019.

In a statement released this morning, the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, a cross-regional coalition of 25 human rights groups, also called on the UNHRC’s Khan to act: “Hong Kong police today arrested singer and pro-democracy activist Denise Ho, who addressed our 2020 Geneva Summit for Human Rights. We appeal to UNHRC President Nazhat Khan to condemn this illegal retaliation — and to convene an urgent session.”

Interview with Human Rights Council President Nazhat Shameem Khan | الأمم المتحدة

UNHRC president Khan has never once criticized or investigated China. Khan refused to to launch a commission of inquiry into China’s crimes against humanity against its Uyghur population, despite an international appeal sent to her by 68 lawmakers including Senator Bob Menendez, chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, German MEP Reinhard Bütikofer, chair of the European Parliament’s China delegation, Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP, former leader of the the UK Conservative Party, and Australian Labor Senator Kimberley Kitching.

“Council president Khan’s term ends Friday, and so she has a chance now to do the right thing,” said Neuer. “We urge her to take action at the United Nations to convene an urgent meeting and to pressure China to immediately free Denise Ho.”

Raid and Arrest of Denise Ho

Ho was taken from her home and arrested today in a police raid, the first time that a popstar of global renown has been detained for a political crime after Beijing imposed a national security law on Hong Kong 18 months ago.

“Police National Security Department conducted a search against an online media company in Kwun Tong with a warrant issued under Schedule 1 of the Implementation Rules for Article 43 of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, authorizing Police to search and seize relevant journalistic materials. Over 200 uniformed and plainclothes police officers have been deployed during the operation,” said the Hong Kong government in a press statement on Wednesday morning.

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