Thu, 18 Jul 2019

Hong Kong activist Denise Ho urged the international community on Monday to increase pressure on China, in a speech to the UN rights council interrupted twice by a diplomat from Beijing.

Ho, a pro-democracy canto-pop star, has joined the huge marches of protesters calling for democratic reforms and a halt to sliding freedoms in semi-autonomous Hong Kong.

Before addressing the council, Ho told AFP the international community, including the United States, should raise its voice louder in defence of rights in the territory.

"They have the power to (put) pressure on China," she said.

At Human Rights Council, Ho condemned legislation that triggered the worst crisis in Hong Kong's recent history - a now-suspended law that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China.

"Will the United Nations convene an urgent session to protect the people of Hong Kong?" she asked council members, insisting that freedoms in the territory were "under serious attack".

The rights council can hold extraordinary sessions on global crises, which generally produce resolutions that seek to raise awareness but have no influence on the ground.

Ho's speech was twice interrupted by the first secretary at the Chinese mission, Dai Demao raising points of order - a procedure member states use when they feel a speaker has breached UN rules.

Dai said Ho perpetrated an "affront" against Beijing by equating Hong Kong and China, rather than referring to Hong Kong as part of China.

After Ho finished her speech, she told reporters she was not trying to put China and Hong Kong "on the same level".

But, she added, "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".

"This is really the tipping point where either we can safeguard our city or it goes the other way," she added.

Protesters want the extradition bill to be scrapped, an independent inquiry into police tactics used against protesters, amnesty for those arrested, and for the city's unelected pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam to step down.

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