Exclusive: The Eat News interview with Hong Kong human rights defenders in the United Nations

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From 6 October to 14 November 2020, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has been held in Geneva Switzerland. NGOs with Special Consultative Status from throughout the world and state parties gathered in this council meeting. Among those NGOs, there was a young human rights activist named Wai-Tong Lee from Japan demanding Hong Kong’s freedom.

On the 1st of July, Hong Kong enforced National Security Law (NSL) which endangered pro-democratic citizens like Mr. Lee. Right after the enforcement of the law, many activists have been arrested instantly due to this newly enacted law in Hong Kong.

Photo: Yuma Konishi/Eat News

This Law has changed the entire circumstances of the people fighting for freedom and made them political prisoners. They are now labeled as “homegrown terrorists” which is like we witnessed the same situation in East Turkistan where China unlawfully occupied by force. 

Regardless of the people or activists, HongKongers or not, they started arresting all people who speak up for their freedom. Last month pro-democracy activist Nathan Law who exiled from Hong Kong to the UK became a wanted person.

Photo: Yuma Konishi/Eat News

Until a year ago, Mr. Lee was the ordinary 27 years-old attracted by Japanese culture and living in Japan. However, he recently established a pro-democracy association with his friends to fight for freedom. Also, he has been appealing to Japanese politicians to accelerate their presence in the Japanese political scene to pressure China.

Under the newly enacted NSL, attending to the United Nations Human Rights Council was a life-threatening decision for him.

If Mr. Lee keeps increasing his presence not only within Japan but also in the international community, there is a great possibility that he ends up with the same situation as Nathan Law and Andy Li who have been arrested by Chinese and Hong Kong authorities, currently becoming wanted criminals. Mr. Law and Mr. Andy Li have attended the United Nations Human Rights Council in September of last year.

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Photo: Yuma Konishi/Eat News

Last month, 12 Hong Kongers were arrested by Chinese police while fleeing from Hong Kong to Taiwan on a speedboat. Mr. Lee would be in a same serious life-threatening situation.

Mr. Lee was restrained in Hong Kong when he returned from Japan to Hong Kong last year for attending a protest. He is now on parole and has to go back to Hong Kong for the trial in the near future.

He stated “if I go back, I will be charged with a falsehood crime, will get arrested, even if I don’t go back.   Will the United Nations Human Rights Council allow China to put me on the wanted list so I will be a political refugee?”

Since he has a certain influence as an activist in Japan, there is no other choice for him but to stay in Japan.

Hong Kong protest is composed of many layers of the people. Firstly, “the valiant”, they stand front line and fight against the police. They confront the brutal and violent police who are using tear gas, rubber bullets, and smoke grenades to their citizens.

Secondly, “The first aider”, they rescue people who got injured or sometimes they mediate the conflict between police and protester.

Thirdly is the “Press,” they always move with the protesters to capture what is actually taken place on the ground of Hong Kong to convey it to the international community by utilizing smartphones to report. Other than these three, the people have their own rule to demand freedom.

Photo: Yuma Konishi/Eat News

But, HongKongers living abroad were feeling with a lack of power compared to people who are in Hong Kong who put themselves on the front line. “I was only watching fellow citizens fighting for our freedom through a screen and could not do anything.” Many HongKonger has expressed the same opinion when I interviewed them.

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The National Security Law threatened the people and stopped them from speaking up. This caused people living in Hong Kong to start expecting Hongkongers living abroad to fight on their behalf. Now, the main battlefield of protests has been shifted overseas. Mr. Lee is the one who reacted to the demand.

Mr. Andy Li who attended the United Nations Human Rights Council last year was arrested and became a missing person in the “Magic Kingdom” called China. Mr. Lee attended the same stage and demanded freedom to the international community. If Mr. Lee will disappear in the near future, that would not be a surprise.

The pro-democracy movement and enforcement of the National Security Law totally and rapidly changed the life of a young HongKonger who once dreamed a brightly-colored future.

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Yuma Konishi has been filming a lot of documentaries. Documentary currently filmed about Hong Kong protest, Black racism, Rogingya Refugee etc got several award and official selection in the film festival around the world.


Shunichi Fujiki, is an Eat News Japanese correspondent, is a U.S. Kentucky Colonel, and currently serves as Managing Director of the International Career Support Association (ICSA), a non-governmental organization of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, a Senior Fellow of the International Institute for the History of Controversy (iRICH), and a Senior Advisor to the Institute for Global Education.


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