A representative from the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) will speak at a United Nations conference next week to highlight human rights abuses in China such as the suppression of lawyers and labour unions.

Ming Lam of HKCTU will be speaking at a pre-session of the UN’s Universal Periodic Review, which examines the human rights performance of member states once every five years. The pre-session is designed for civil organisations to raise issues before the Human Rights Council conducts its inquiry in November.

Ming Lam, Albert Ho Emily Lau
From left: Ming Lam, Albert Ho and Emily Lau. Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

Lam will travel to Geneva next week accompanied by Albert Ho and Emily Lau, both representatives of the China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group (CHRLCG).

Ho will also represent the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, one of the largest pro-democracy groups in Hong Kong.

Ho said the group will prioritise the issue of oppressed dissidents: “We have to pinpoint the imprisonment or detention of a number of dissidents [who were detained] simply because of their exercise of the freedom of speech in a peaceful and non-violent manner,” he said.

The group demanded that China release all detained dissidents and stop the persecution of human rights activists. It raised examples including Wang Quanzhang, a human rights lawyer who has been detained for over 1,100 days without trial, as well as lawyers Yu Wensheng, Li Yuhan and Jiang Tianyong.

The group also demanded that China ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the country signed in 1998 but never put into effect.

wang quanzhang
Wang Quanzhang. Photo: RFA.

“If China really wants to join the international society and become a respectable and responsible member, China must show that it is willing to abide by a civilised code of behaviour,” Lau said.

Lam, who was chosen to be one of the five speakers at the pre-session, will speak for six minutes in the hour-long hearing. He added that he will draw attention to the suppression of labour unions in China, such as the recent Jasic incident in Shenzhen.

Earlier this year, the CHRLCG and other groups co-signed a joint written submission which will be delivered to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights.

Lau added that the delegation had reached out to foreign consulates in Hong Kong, and asked their national representatives to pressure China during the November review session.

Ming Lam Cho-ming
Ming Lam Cho-ming. Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

However, Lau said it was uncertain whether the Universal Periodic Exercise will be effective in forcing China to take action.

“Each country will only have two minutes to speak, and many of China’s allies will rush to praise it,” she said. “Afterwards, it is possible that China will only pick the easiest [recommendation] to implement. But we still want to participate because it is always a process.”

China has consistently spurned criticism of its rights record and said it is ruled by law.

Holmes Chan

Holmes Chan

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.