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Westlake Legal Group > Human Rights

Benedict Rogers: If we mean what we say about ‘global Britain’, we must stand up to China

Benedict Rogers is a human rights activist and writer, and a former parliamentary candidate. He is East Asia Team Leader of the international human rights organisation CSW, co-founder and Chair of Hong Kong Watch and co-founder and Deputy Chair of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission.

Iain Duncan Smith was right when he said that “for the past two decades, we have cosied up to China in a way that is becoming an embarrassment”. He argued that “the UK needs to stand shoulder to shoulder with its allies. China is not an ally.”

What he didn’t say is that there are also two myths about China. The first is that it is the forthcoming superpower, a strong and stable force in the world. The second is that in order to trade with China, we need to kowtow.

The coronavirus has not only exposed millions of people to a public health crisis, it has exposed the fragility of the Chinese Communist Party. A strong, secure government would not hide the truth about a new virus, it would act immediately to prevent its spread. Yet when Dr Li Wenliang first warned about the outbreak, the response of the authorities was to silence and threaten him. He was forced to sign a confession, apologising for spreading rumours and disturbing public order.

Only when the virus was so obvious did the authorities take some steps to deal with it – but too late. At least 2,000 people in China alone have died, and it has become a global emergency – caused in large part by a regime based on lies and fear. Even now, citizen bloggers reporting the truth disappear.

A self-confident government does not expel Wall Street Journal reporters because of a headline. A self-confident government does not incarcerate at least a million Uyghur Muslims, just because they have beards, wear veils, or surf the Internet. A self-confident government doesn’t destroy thousands of crosses and dynamite churches.

A self-confident government does not deny foreign activists, academics, and journalists entry to Hong Kong, branded “Asia’s world city”. In October 2017 I was one of the first westerners refused entry on Beijing’s orders, exposing the erosion of the much-vaunted “one country, two systems” principle. My incident became a diplomatic one, with the Foreign Secretary at the time – Boris Johnson – issuing a statement, the Foreign Office summoning the Chinese ambassador, and questions being raised in both Houses of Parliament. Since my case, others have faced a similar fate, including the Victor Mallet, the Financial Times’ Asia Editor; Dan Garrett, an academic; and Michael Yon, a journalist.

A self-confident government would not invest so much effort in trying to silence western critics. Over the past two years I have received numerous anonymous letters posted to my home address, my neighbours, and even my mother. More recently I have received daily emails either harassing me or, using fake email addresses in my name, impersonating me to others in an attempt to discredit me. And I am not alone.

Furthermore, a self-confident government would not lobby parliamentarians about a British activist. Yet I know several who have been asked by the Chinese Embassy to shut me up, and at least two who, in meetings with the Chinese Ambassador about global issues like trade or climate change, have faced as the first agenda item a specific request to silence Benedict Rogers. A self-confident government would have better things to do.

So stop thinking that the Chinese Communist Party is this confident power that we should not cross. It exhibits all the characteristics of a bully, and bullies are by definition insecure, fearful and weak. They may show aggression, but their aggression only works if we kow-tow to it.

That leads to the second myth: that we can’t afford economically to lose China, and thus we must do deals whatever the cost.

The record shows that, though it may huff and puff, the regime in China will still sell goods and purchase products based on demand, not politics. Germany’s Angela Merkel has, among western leaders, been one of the most consistently outspoken about human rights in China, yet Germany remains China’s largest trading partner in Europe.

When Xi Jinping visited the UK in 2015 an American businessman in Shanghai, James Macgregor, told the BBC: “If you act like a panting puppy, the object of your attention is going to think they’ve got you on a leash. China does not respect people who suck up to them.” The Chinese regime might not like it when you stand up for values, but they are more likely to respect you than if you kowtow.

But how important is China, really? As Chris Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong, put it in his recent Paddy Ashdown Memorial Lecture on the city:

“The truth is that behaving in a way that corresponds with our traditional values does not threaten economic catastrophe. The idea that you can only do business with China if you say and do what Beijing wants has always been nonsense … Whatever became of the cornucopia that was supposed to come with the “golden era” of Britain’s dealings with China? This is the usual self-serving guff.”

In our post-Brexit era, we must carve out a role for global Britain. But that means what it says. Global. What about India? Brazil? What about the democracies of Asia – Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia – who, however imperfectly, are far closer to our values than Xi’s China? And what about our allies in Hong Kong, who share our values and are, as a new report by Hong Kong Watch launched next week shows, trying to save the world’s third most significant financial centre and the UK’s third largest trading partner in Asia?

To sign a cheap deal that allows a corporation, Huawei, which is closely aligned with the Chinese regime and is complicit with grave human rights violations into our national telecommunications infrastructure, potentially undermining our closest relationships with allies who share our values and intelligence, is madness. To allow the perception to prevail among those who struggle courageously to preserve the rule of law and basic freedoms in Hong Kong that Britain, despite its obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, has abandoned them, is tragic.

And for the Chinese ambassador in London to be declaring, unchallenged, that the Prime Minister wants to “work with China [and] … elevate the relationship to a new level” when that regime stands accused of crimes against humanity, cultural genocide, the most severe crackdown on human rights since the Tiananmen massacre, an increasing breach of its promises to the people of Hong Kong, the worst repression of religion since the Cultural Revolution, an increasingly grave threat to our own freedoms and security and – despite its charade of confidence – an increasingly unstable regime, seems unhinged.

The UK’s China policy needs a wholesale review. We didn’t “take back control” from Brussels only to surrender it to Beijing.

I am deeply pro-China, as a country and a people. I have spent much of my adult life in China. I want China to take its rightful place on the world stage. But I want it to do so as a friend not an enemy, a force for good and not a threat. It can only do so if it is free of a deceitful, repressive and insecure regime. And that requires us to have the courage to stand up to that regime which the British barrister Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, who chaired the independent China Tribunal on forced organ harvesting, describes as “a criminal state”.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Luke de Pulford: The fight against slavery must continue

Luke de Pulford is Director of the Arise Foundation.

A conversation I had:

Me: “What do you think Boris is going to do about modern slavery?”

Wonk: “Wasn’t that Theresa May’s thing?”

Ends.

Yes, really. But can you blame our friend, the wonk? If you don’t feel sorry for those who “do” policy for a living, you don’t know enough of them. These are people chained to the electoral cycle, tasked with solving intractable social problems over the course of a single parliament.

“I want to hear new ideas ricocheting of your sinuses like a pinball” Dr Stewart Pearson tells his Government Thought Camp in The Thick of It. Exaggerated, of course. But policy-by-tennis-ball-chucking is an actual thing.

It’s even worse these days. Special Advisers have the added complication of having to churn out flagship “cause” ideas to help their bosses become Prime Minister. How any serious policy actually gets made under these circumstances is stupefying.

The issue isn’t so much that our system of policy-making has a baked-in superficiality. Well, it is that. But it’s also that that crucial issues drop down the agenda merely because they bear the brand of another MP.

If there were a policy graveyard, it would be littered with epitaphs to government campaigns owing their origin as much to the politician promoting them as the issue itself. Political protagonism is the death of policy. Step forward William Hague on preventing sexual violence in conflict. Remember that? Or Amber Rudd for her work on FGM. More latterly, Jeremy Hunt’s superb efforts on Christian persecution (which FCO mandarins sought to knee-cap from the start). Did someone say Big Society?

It’s a long list. We haven’t solved these problems yet, by the way. We just don’t hear about them any more. Someone else’s “thing”.

But this isn’t a piece about how indignant we all should be. It is merely to say that some issues are bigger than the people promoting them. I don’t think it’s controversial or earnest to insist that eradicating slavery is too important to become the property of a single government or politician. Yes, Theresa May did great work highlighting it. But the real surprise is that it wasn’t picked up before. It’s hardly a new phenomenon. More surprising still, perhaps, is that, despite the May premiership, it is still a long way from being an embedded government priority. If this seems hyperbolic to you, I’d be interested in how you explain the weekend’s news about a woman who was repeatedly trafficked for “sex” after Home Office failures.

After all, over 40 million people are reckoned to be enslaved. Forty million, for pity’s sake. The prospect that the UK’s modern abolition effort might end up buried in a Theresa-May-shaped coffin is a worry, to put it mildly.

Greta Thunberg isn’t helping either. She’s absolutely bossing the sustainability agenda (that’s what slavery comes under in the business world, in case you were wondering). By the time she’s through berating hordes of masochistic elite about the climate, there’s no time left to discuss the enslavement of human beings. One well-known businessman lamented this as the Greta Effect. Depressing, but you have to hand it to her: she’s effective.

Meanwhile, though, the number of slavery victims in London is skyrocketing. Containers full of dead Vietnamese people are being deposited on our shores. The global number of enslaved people is stable at around the 40 million mark. And even the UK’s support for people who have suffered slavery is uncertain. What we are doing isn’t working. You don’t need to be a blue sky thinker to work that one out.

There’s a message for Boris Johnson in all this. The cause of abolition is no more the property of Theresa May than William Wilberforce. Ending slavery is going to require tenacity, ingenuity, optimism and sheer courage – leadership capable of finding a way of unshackling the wonks, making businesses step-up, and rooting the cause of abolition so deeply across government that it actually happens. It will be difficult, but is it possible? Absolutely.

As with another key area of public policy, May did not succeed, despite her best efforts. And as with that other key area of public policy, it’s over to you, Prime Minister.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Suella Braverman: People we elect must take back control from people we don’t. Who include the judges.

Suella Braverman is a former Brexit Minister and is MP for Fareham.

Restoring sovereignty to Parliament after Brexit is one of the greatest prizes that awaits us. But not just from the EU. As we start this new chapter of our democratic story, our Parliament must retrieve power ceded to another place – the courts. For too long, the Diceyan notion of parliamentary supremacy has come under threat. The political has been captured by the legal. Decisions of an executive, legislative and democratic nature have been assumed by our courts. Prorogation and the triggering of Article 50 were merely the latest examples of a chronic and steady encroachment by the judges.

For in reality, repatriated powers from the EU will mean precious little if our courts continue to act as political decision-maker, pronouncing on what the law ought to be and supplanting Parliament. To empower our people we need to stop this disenfranchisement of Parliament.

Brexit has served as a flashpoint of the shrinkage of politics and the ascent of law. However, as Jonathan Sumption, a former Supreme Court Judge, has said, the ‘empire of law’ has been expanding since the 19th century, gradually governing every aspect of life.

Traditionally, Parliament made the law and judges applied it. But today, our courts exercise a form of political power. Questions that fell hitherto exclusively within the prerogative of elected Ministers have yielded to judicial activism: foreign policy, conduct of our armed forces abroad, application of international treaties and, of course, the decision to prorogue Parliament. Judicial review has exploded since the 1960s so that even the most intricate relations between the state and individual can be questioned by judges. Full disclosure: I was a barrister specialising in judicial review prior to becoming an MP and can testify to the work on offer for hard-working, jobbing lawyers.

The catalyst for this proliferation was the Human Rights Act, which came into force in 2000. Whilst noble in its intentions, the concept of ‘fundamental’ human rights has been stretched beyond recognition. Of course, there exist inalienable, indisputable rights and codifying them is no bad thing (although, starting with Magna Carta, the English had done much of this long before Tony Blair came along).

However, despite aspiring to operate as a treatise on immutable rights going to the heart of our humanity, the HRA (and the prolific rights-industry which it spawned) now covers complaints about noise abatement, planning rules, employment and social security and non-payment of rent. Strained interpretations of the Article 8 Right to Private and Family Life have meant that inherently political decisions to do with immigration and extradition have been overturned by the courts.

Now I am not lambasting the judiciary and nor is this a diatribe against human rights. What I am arguing is that the delicate relationship between law and politics is off-balance. I don’t challenge the quality of our judges, but I do question their trespass into inherently political terrain for which a legal answer is wholly insufficient. Such political disputes can only be resolved through a democratic, consultative process so that public confidence is sustained.

The law, blunt instrument that it is, cannot be the crucible for political questions upon which divergent views exist within our society. Whether it is political matters like Brexit or ethical questions like assisted dying, only Parliament can fully test the whole panoply of views, nuances and interests. Messy, full of contradictions and anomalies, slow and frustrating- our Parliament remains the only source of decisions which have a legitimacy borne out of commanding a majority vote in the country.

I am pleased that that the Government has promised to update the Human Rights Act to restore the proper balance between the rights of individuals, national security and effective government and to set up a Constitution, Democracy and Rights Commission to ensure that the boundaries of judicial review are appropriately drawn.

Yes, courts should operate to curb abuse of power by government but if a small number of unelected, unaccountable judges continue to determine wider public policy, putting them at odds with elected decision-makers, our democracy cannot be said to be representative. Parliament’s legitimacy is unrivalled and the reason why we must take back control, not just from the EU, but from the judiciary.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

David Alton: Now is the time to deliver on Johnson’s commitments to persecuted Christians

Lord Alton of Liverpool is a Crossbench Peer and a member of the House of Lords Committee on International Relations and Defence.

On Boxing Day last year, Jeremy Hunt, then Foreign Secretary, announced that he had asked Philip Mounstephen, Bishop of Truro, to establish an independent review into the global persecution of Christians.

On July 4th, during the Conservative leadership election, the Bishop published his findings – including the estimate that almost 250 million Christians live in countries where they are subjected to high levels of persecution.

Eighty four per cent of the world’s population has a faith; a third are Christian. But, according to Pew Research Centre, 74 per cent of the world’s population live in the countries where there are violations at the hands of Islamists or Marxists.

Every day, an average of eleven Christians lose their lives. Hunt and Boris Johnson welcomed the Truro Review’s 22 recommendations and committed themselves to implement them in their entirety.

This subsequently became a Tory manifesto commitment. The Prime Minister has declared:

“We will do everything possible to champion these freedoms…. We are determined to use the tools of British diplomacy in this cause, including our permanent seat on the UN Security Council.In light of mounting evidence that Christians suffer the most widespread persecution…we have accepted, and will implement, all of the review’s challenging recommendations. We will use the UK’s global reach and programme funding to improve the lives of persecuted people.”

The Truro Review’s recommendations go to the heart of Foreign Office and DFID culture – which is why it speaks directly to the Prime Minister’s decision to see how those departments and their priorities relate to one another.

For example, DFID can spend £2.6 billion over ten years in Pakistan, but effectively ignore the persecution which leads to a mob burning alive a Christian couple and forcing their children to watch.

In Pakistan, no one has been brought to justice for the murder of Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s Christian Minister for Minorities; indifference greets the 1,000 Hindu and Christian girls forcibly married and converted; or the apartheid-style ghettoisation of minorities into squalid colonies.

Yet we refuse specifically to direct any of the aid we give to Pakistan for the alleviation of the suffering of these desperate minorities. Over Christmas, I wrote to Foreign Office Ministers about the case of an illiterate Pakistani Christian woman, Shagufta Kauser. She is in the prison cell in Multan previously occupied by Asia Bibi – freed after nine years on death row for alleged blasphemy.

Shagufta and her disabled husband, Shafqat Emmanuel, spent their fifth Christmas separated from their four children, aged between nine and 15 – sentenced to death. Held in separate prisons for nearly six years, both Shagufta and her husband are reported to be experiencing severe depression.

A doctor reports that Shafqat’s back is almost destroyed from bed sores, since he is confined to a prison bed from which he is unable to move. Although they cannot read or write, they were sentenced to death in 2014 for allegedly sending blasphemous text messages in English – a language that neither or them speak; nor do they have any knowledge of alphanumeric symbols.

At the time, Shafqat said that he had been tortured, forcing him to confess to something he did not do (and in the hope that his wife might then be freed). Prosecutors have been unable to produce any evidence linking the couple to the phone from which the alleged texts were sent.

Last May, in response to a parliamentary question, Ministers told me that the Government is monitoring the case. But is really “everything possible to champion these freedoms” or using our phenomenal aid programme to insist on the upholding of Article 18?

It is disturbing how unaddressed persecution rapidly morphs into crimes against humanity and genocide. In Recommendation Seven of the Truro’ Review, the Government is required to ensure that there are:

“mechanisms in place to facilitate an immediate response to atrocity crimes, including genocide through activities such as setting up early warning mechanisms to identify countries at risk of atrocities, diplomacy to help de-escalate tensions and resolve disputes, and developing support to help with upstream prevention work…the FCO should determine its policy in accordance with the legal framework and should be willing to make public statements condemning such atrocities.”

Recommendation 21(b) requires the Government to “champion the prosecution of ISIS perpetrators of sex crimes against Yazidi and Christian women, not only as terrorists”.

Yet, during a visit that I undertook to Northern Iraq and Kurdistan last month, I took first-hand accounts from survivors who told me that no one has even spoken to them about what befell them and their families – let alone the establishment of a Nuremburg-style Regional Tribunal to bring the perpetrators to justice.

The Government deserves credit for initiating the Investigative Team established by the UN Security Council Resolution 2379. But it has subsequently taken its eye off the ball: in suggesting that Iraqi Courts can competently deal with these matters, it has shown wanton indifference.

The Truro Review’s final recommendation is a ‘sunset clause’ which will lead to an assessment of how the report’s recommendations have been implemented. The Truro Review requires the Foreign Office to demonstrate that it has introduced new mechanisms identifying situations likely to escalate into mass atrocities like genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes – and how they have co-ordinated inter-departmental responses.

The Foreign Office is also required to review its long-standing and flawed policy of leaving the question of genocide determination to international judicial systems.

In responding to Recommendation 21(b), the Government will have to champion the ISIS fighters’ prosecutions domestically and internationally. A new Treason Act and Magnitsky powers will be perfect tools for prosecuting terror related offences, and also in ensuring prosecutions for murder, torture, rape and sexual violence and enslavement, as well as genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

The Truro Review recommends a complete culture shift affecting “strategy and structures”, making “freedom of religion or belief central to the FCO’s culture, policies and international operations” Truro calls for “consistency and co-ordination: strengthening joined-up thinking: education and engagement” and the development of “a religiously-literate local operational approach” the training and equipping of local embassy staff with in-depth knowledge of religious history, religious persecution and religious culture of the country in which they work.

It is no secret that some senior civil servants in the Foreign Office do not share the Prime Minister’s commitment to implementing the Truro Recommendations.

On their watch, diplomats around the world (as Freedom of Information Requests have revealed) have not been asked for, or given, details of any action taken to “use the UK’s global reach and programme funding to improve the lives of persecuted people.”

But even if they disagree with the Prime Minister and the Truro Review, let them consider this: a 2014 report examined economic growth in 173 countries, and considered 24 different factors that could impact economic growth. It found that that “religious freedom contributes to better economic and business outcomes and that advances in religious freedom”, contribute to “successful and sustainable enterprises that benefit societies and individuals.”

And let reluctant officials look at the way religious persecution can so easily become a key driver for the mass movements of refugees. One in five of all countries have suffered religiously provoked attacks since 2014 and consequently many of the 68 million refugees worldwide have been forced to flee their homes– with all the attendant loss of human dignity which that number conceals. Persecution is not a marginal, or fringe concern.

The Truro Report has rightly put it centre stage.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

What you may have missed about the Conservative Manifesto 5) Johnson has neither forgiven nor forgotten the Supreme Court

“After Brexit we also need to look at the broader aspects of our constitution: the relationship between the Government, Parliament and the courts; the functioning of the Royal Prerogative; the role of the House of Lords; and access to justice for ordinary people. The ability of our security services to defend us against terrorism and organised crime is critical. We will update the Human Rights Act and administrative law to ensure that there is a proper balance between the rights of individuals, our vital national security and effective government. We will ensure that judicial review is available to protect the rights of the individuals against an overbearing state, while ensuring that it is not abused to conduct politics by another means or to create needless delays. In our first year we will set up a Constitution, Democracy & Rights Commission that will examine these issues in depth, and come up with proposals to restore trust in our institutions and in how our democracy operates.”

Boris Johnson has said that his favourite film scene is “the multiple retribution killings at the end of the Godfather”.

It is worth bearing that in mind when contemplating the sprawling paragraph above from the Conservative Manifesto.

Its contents are strikingly permissive – giving carte blanche to a Commission, consisting of and to be chaired by a person or persons unknown, to make recommendations on the Commons, the Lords, Westminster, Whitehall, and in particular judicial review and human rights.

On that last point, we hope it gets to grips with the relationship between Parliament and the ECHR. For if reform doesn’t come, a new Conservative Government won’t be able to get properly to grips with the full causes of London Bridge murders – and part of the terror threat.

But above all, what leaps out of this section for us is that the Prime Minister appears to have the Supreme Court and senior judges in his sights.

Johnson will not have forgotten that the Court has ruled twice against the Government – the second time when he was Prime Minister.  That it inadvertedly aided Brexit the first time round may be irrelevant to him.

He will remember Lady Hale, that spider badge – and her swipe at him over “girly swots”.  More pertinently, he will have in mind the court’s constitutionally illterate decision over prorogation.

There are two known policy routes forward if the judiciary is not simply to be left well alone.  One is to scrap the Supreme Court, revive the Law Lords and return to the status quo ante.  The other is to have Parliamentary hearings for senior judges.

Party members tilt strongly towards the first if our surveys are anything to go by.  We suspect that Johnson himself has no fixed view, but believes that Something Must Be Done.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Luke de Pulford: It grows clearer by the day that Britain needs a new China policy

Luke de Pulford is Director of the Arise Foundation, co-founder of the Coalition for Genocide Response and sits on the Conservative party Human Rights Commission.

I’ve just returned from Hong Kong, invited by local activist group Fight for Freedom, Stand with Hong Kong to join an international election monitoring delegation.

There were plenty of rumours (and some credible evidence) of election manipulation, but we didn’t personally witness much of it. We saw people queuing for as long as two hours to deliver an emphatic victory for democratic candidates in altogether very peaceful and orderly ballot. Until the count started, it was actually pretty dull.

Kudos where due – pulling off a dull election is no mean feat when the months leading unto it were defined by almost continuous protest and violence. Aside from a brief encounter with a few thugs, the twelve or so polling stations I witnessed were a picture of civil docility.

Yet the elections were a huge global story. You could be forgiven for thinking that something had actually changed. But it hasn’t, really. And judging by Carrie Lam’s characteristically ill-judged response (claiming that people had turned out in record numbers because the government hadn’t cracked down hard enough on the protesters) we’ll have tear gas again before the end of the week.

Part of the weirdness of the past few days was that Hong Kong’s largest ever democratic vote was cast for what are essentially parish councils. Their primary role is consultative. If local councillors do pavement politics, Hong Kong’s new councillors are the folk who ask whether you’re interested in pavements. There was a 74 per cent turnout for this. In the UK, you’d only push 30 per cent for a council election with a Momentum-level hormone injection. And our councillors actually have some power. Not so in the Pearl of the Orient.

But, of course, for Hong Kongers this election wasn’t about local politics. It was a referendum on Carrie Lam’s handling of the protests. Election manipulation or not, the answer from the people of Hong Kong couldn’t have been clearer: they want more democracy. The democratic candidates stood on the Five Demands platform – and the democrats won big.

The trouble is that these elections are – at best – a baby step towards these Five Demands. So don’t expect to hear any triumphalism from Hong Kong democrats. In fact I’ve never seen people so determinedly morose about thrashing their opponents. They don’t feel they have won anything. They are mindful of the sacrifices of their friends – beaten, tear-gassed, disappeared, shot, or intimidated.

Little wonder that the first visit of these newly minted councillors was to the Polytechnic University in an effort to visit their demonstrator colleagues – still trapped inside by riot police who still refuse to allow medical staff into help them. I was with this group, and the police barricade did not look like yielding any time soon. That is enough to remind them that they have no power yet.

More than that, they know what they are up against. They are a tiny almost-city state with no army trying to face down the terrifying and uncompromising might of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). A Party which perpetrates human rights abuses against minorities on an industrial scale, infiltrates and manipulates elections, monitors its citizens with unprecedented invasiveness, and stands openly opposed to the values of a free society. Hong Kong is a tiny bastion of freedom teetering precariously on the edge of ‘President-for-Life’ Xi’s colossal landmass. No wonder demonstrators talk of the ‘end game’ and ‘laam chaau’ (we burn together). When you’re out there with them, they make it feel like Custer’s Last Stand.

So where do the protests go from here? Analysing this question depends entirely upon what Beijing is prepared to tolerate. Clearly, the CCP made a mistake in this election, completely underestimating the commitment of Hong Kongers to their values (not for the first time). They thought Beijing-sympathetic candidates had it sewn up. They got a drubbing. So when the Legislative Council (LegCo) elections come around in September 2020 you can bet your bottom dollar Xi Jinping won’t make the same mistake. Those are the elections that matter, and the stakes are much higher for both sides.

So efforts to undermine the democracy movement are very likely to increase, not decrease as some have reported. Politically motivated intimidation will increase. CCP Pressure on Carrie Lam will also increase, so we can expect to see yet more hard-line inflexibility, incarceration and ten-year prosecutions of kids for “rioting”. Prepare for more ruination of Hong Kong’s economy and infrastructure as the police become less retrained and the protests intensify in response.

That’s all unless Beijing has a change of heart about Hong Kong electing its own leaders. But Xi Jinping has now personally associated himself with the effort to quell unrest in Hong Kong, so backing down requires him to lose face. I just can’t see that happening.

Meanwhile the UK stubbornly refuses to wake up to the true face of CCP authoritarianism, bending over backwards to deny China’s outright disregard for the Joint Declaration – the treaty we negotiated to protect Hong Kong’s way of life. As the people of Hong Kong continue to inhale toxic tear-gas to defend this treaty, it is becoming clear that the UK needs a new China policy, as I have argued here before. The demonstrators will not yield in their desire to elect their own leaders. Instead of selling them out to China, we should be standing with them.

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Benedict Rogers: Do I condemn those hurling molotov cocktails or attacking policemen in Hong Kong? No. But I understand them.

Benedict Rogers is co-founder and Chair of Hong Kong Watch and co-founder and deputy chair of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission

Last Sunday afternoon, within the space of two hours, two friends of mine and I worked together and between us managed to persuade Britain’s former Foreign Secretary, former Speaker of the House of Commons, former leader of the Green Party, former Liberal Party Chief Whip and former Metropolitan police chief to speak out, urgently, for Hong Kong. The next day a North Korean refugee friend organised a statement by North Korean escapees in solidarity with Hong Kong. Specifically, we moved fast to try to put pressure on Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, to avert a Tiananmen-style massacre in Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University.

Why did I spend my Sunday afternoon and evening trying to prevent a crackdown on a group of students who had been throwing Molotov cocktails and bricks in the street? And why did a cross-party group of British dignitaries come together so swiftly to call for restraint?

There are five very simple reasons: because I lived in Hong Kong for the first five years after the handover at the beginning of my working life, and as a result I love Hong Kong; because I am a human rights activist and believe passionately in the universal values of freedom and human dignity for everyone, everywhere; because I am British, and I have an old-fashioned belief in Britain’s moral and legal responsibilities; because I have experienced the threat of the Chinese regime’s attempts to silence me, albeit to a tiny degree by comparison with what Hong Kongers face, denying me entry, sending threatening letters to me, my neighbours and my mother, and trying to influence Members of Parliament and my particular political party against me and I refuse to be silenced or to allow China to threaten our own freedoms; and because I am human, and I believe we have a responsibility to each other when human life – and humanity – is at stake.

Now, a cynic might say well human lives are at risk all over the world – are you going to defend them all? In principle, yes – I would wish to. Of course in practice, though, one has to pick one’s fights. I pick mine based on a few factors.

Firstly, a personal connection, knowledge, experience is one factor. I don’t want to talk about contexts I know nothing about. I do know about Hong Kong, and other parts of Asia, from years working, living in and visiting. I have friends, people I have met, people who message me appealing for help, and that adds to my connection.

Secondly, who else is speaking out? If it is a cause celebre, then I am happy to support morally and move on. My guiding motto is to be a “voice for the voiceless”. Five years ago, I felt that almost no one – in Britain at least – was speaking out for Hong Kong apart from the last Governor, Chris Patten, and so I began to speak out. For that reason, I founded Hong Kong Watch, because few others were speaking. Today, I am pleased that there are other voices – but we need to maintain and strengthen that momentum.

Thirdly, I am driven by a sense of specific responsibility. There is a general responsibility that I believe every decent, civilized democracy has, to speak up for and defend the universal values of human rights. But in the case of Hong Kong, Britain itself has a very specific moral and legal responsibility.

Moral, because of our history together. Legal, because of our obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, an international treaty valid at least until 2047. And we have a particular responsibility to holders of British National Overseas (BNO) passports, to whom we should extend protection and offer sanctuary. We should also work with other nations, including the Commonwealth, to help all Hong Kongers who may need to flee for their lives. And the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary need to speak out personally, publicly, urgently.

And, fourthly, I believe we have a particular responsibility to defend human life and human freedom in situations where it is most threatened – cases of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity – and in places where it has until recently existed and been respected and thus represents a frontline of freedom. Hong Kong is today’s frontline of freedom, and if it falls, the threat to our own freedoms comes closer.

Do I condone those throwing Molotov cocktails or attacking policemen? I do not. And we have to be clear about that. On that level, I condemned the rioters in London in 2011 for looting, burning and violence and there is no way I could condone similar actions by Hong Kongers, no matter how much I support their cause.

However, there are two differences. First, the police started the violence in Hong Kong right at the start of the protest movement. The protesters were peaceful, yet they were met with teargas, pepper-spray, batons, rubber bullets and flying beanbags day after day, week after week. Is it any wonder that a minority of them, however unwisely, began to concoct firebombs and catapults in return? The demonstrators called for dialogue, were met with batons, and so some of them felt so desperate that they turned to violence. The reaction is not right, but it must be understandable. And while the protesters’ actions cannot be justified, they must be understood.

Do the kids who have been protesting in Hong Kong want to fight with the police? No. But they do want to defend their way of life, their basic freedoms, their human rights, all of which they see as increasingly threatened by Xi Jinping’s brutal regime. Beijing’s announcement overruling a Hong Kong court’s decision against the ban on face masks is the latest alarming threat to Hong Kong’s rule of law.

That is why the international community must act – not to defend Molotov cocktail throwers, but to insist that the crisis in Hong Kong can only be resolved if there is a de-escalation of violence, a meaningful dialogue, positive steps towards political reform in the city leading to a system based on universal suffrage giving people a say in how they are governed, and an independent inquiry into police brutality with powers to hold those responsible for abuses accountable. Only then can there be any hope for Hong Kong. If these demands continue to be unheeded, Hong Kong is dead.

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NBA Legend Speaks Out for Free Speech and American Values In Midst of China Controversy

Westlake Legal Group AP_16298608286362 NBA Legend Speaks Out for Free Speech and American Values In Midst of China Controversy Sports shaquille o'neal NBA Human Rights Hong Kong Front Page Stories Front Page Free Speech Featured Story Featured Post China Censorship Allow Media Exception

FILE – In this Sept. 9, 2016, file photo, basketball Hall of Fame inductee Shaquille O’Neal speaks during induction ceremonies in Springfield, Mass. Krispy Kreme announced on Oct. 24, 2016, that O’Neal is now a part-owner of one of the company’s locations in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

NBA officials and players have either seemed supportive of China or refused to comment over the controversy involving free speech, supporting Hong Kong protesters and the oppression by the Chinese Communist government.

Big names like Lebron James even attacked Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey for daring to be supportive of the protesters and kicking off the controversy in tweeting that support.

But there is one big name who isn’t kowtowing. Perhaps because he’s so big he doesn’t have to kowtow to anyone.

Legendary great Shaquille O’Neal spoke out and wasn’t afraid to be supportive of Morey.

From CNBC:

“Daryl Morey was right. Whenever you see something wrong going on anywhere in the world, you should have the right to say, ‘That’s not right.’ And that’s what he did. But again, sometimes in business you have to tiptoe around things,” O’Neal, a former NBA center, said Tuesday night.

“They understand our values, we understand their values. And here, we have the right to speak, especially with social media. We’re going to say whatever we want to say whenever we want to say it,” said O’Neal, who was speaking on TNT’s pregame show before NBA opened its regular season with a game between the Toronto Raptors and New Orleans Pelicans.

While the NBA has bent over a lot, they didn’t do one thing that the Chinese asked and that was fire Daryl Morey. If Morey had been canned for expressing his opinion, the NBA must have known the anger of the fans could not be contained.

Commissioner Adam Silver admitted the NBA has taken a big financial hit because of the controversy, with some of the pregames and Tuesday’s opening games not being televised in China.

Last week, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver admitted that the league suffered “substantial” financial losses as the rift intensified. The NBA’s salary cap also could suffer if the losses continue, two league executives told CNBC.

“I don’t know where we go from here,” Silver said at an event hosted by Time magazine in New York. “The financial consequences have been and may continue to be fairly dramatic.”

Shaq said that the Chinese are just going to have to deal with it.

“We as American people, we do a lot of business in China, and they know and understand our values, and we understand their values. And one of our best values here in America is free speech,” O’Neal said. “We’ re allowed to say what we want to say, and we’re allowed to speak up about injustices, and that’s just how it goes. And if people don’t understand that, that’s just something they have to deal with it.”

Amen, Shaq!

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Westlake Legal Group AP_16298608286362-300x179 NBA Legend Speaks Out for Free Speech and American Values In Midst of China Controversy Sports shaquille o'neal NBA Human Rights Hong Kong Front Page Stories Front Page Free Speech Featured Story Featured Post China Censorship Allow Media Exception   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Canadian transwoman loses case against beauticians who refused to wax her (male) genitals

Westlake Legal Group Yaniv Canadian transwoman loses case against beauticians who refused to wax her (male) genitals The Blog jessica yaniv Human Rights Canada

A few months ago I wrote about a Canadian transwoman named Jessica Yaniv who filed more than a dozen human rights complaints on the grounds that female beauticians who offered “Brazillian” waxing services refused to wax her (male) genitalia. Eventually, several of Yaniv’s complaints made it to the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal. Today, the group which defended five of those beauticians announced it had won the case:

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF.ca) is pleased to announce that the BC Human Rights Tribunal has ruled in favour of home estheticians’ right to refuse to handle male genitalia against their will…

In March 2018 Yaniv approached the estheticians and requested a “Brazilian” to remove pubic hair from the groin area. When the estheticians refused to provide the requested service due to a lack of personal comfort, safety concerns, a lack of training, and/or religious objections, Yaniv filed complaints against them alleging discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression. In total, Yaniv filed 15 complaints against various estheticians in the Vancouver area seeking as much as $15,000 in damages against each esthetician…

“Self-identification does not erase physiological reality,” stated Jay Cameron, the Justice Centre’s Litigation Manager, and counsel for the estheticians. “Our clients do not offer the service requested. No woman should be compelled to touch male genitals against her will, irrespective of how the owner of the genitals identifies.”

The decision not only sides with the beauticians, but also concludes that Yaniv filed the complaints in bad faith, i.e. she did it for financial gain:

I find that Ms. Yaniv’s predominant motive in filing her waxing complaints is not to prevent or remedy alleged discrimination, but to target small businesses for personal
financial gain…

In 10 out of her 13 waxing complaints, Ms. Yaniv initially sought the same remedy: an apology and $3,000 in damages…

Overall, Ms. Yaniv’s comments about settlement and her behaviour throughout the process supports that she targeted small businesses, manufactured the conditions for a human
rights complaint, and then leveraged that complaint to pursue a financial settlement from parties who were unsophisticated and unlikely to mount a proper defence.

In addition to seeking financial compensation, Ms. Yaniv sought to use these complaints as a method to punish the Respondents. This is reflected in the language she used in some
complaints to describe the remedy she was seeking as a “penalty”. It is also clear from Ms. Yaniv’s pattern of conduct in respect of many of the Respondents. She warned Ms. Moin
specifically: “you’re going to be in trouble”. She told Ms. Tran that “discriminatory people need not to be in business”, suggesting that she intended to sabotage or threaten the business.

When I wrote about Yaniv in August I noted that during one of her appearances before the tribunal she had compared the beautician’s refusal to wax her genitalia to Nazism. The tribunal points to this and other comments Yanive made as signs that she has a racial animus against women of Asian descent.

Finally, the tribunal concludes that Yaniv will pay three of the beauticians $2,000 each, though before coming to that number the author argues a much higher award could be defended given Yaniv’s behavior:

Several factors suggest that a high costs award may be appropriate to denounce Ms. Yaniv’s conduct and deter similar behaviour in the future. Her improper conduct has taken multiple forms and impacted a number of complaints. She has hurt the Respondents by filing these complaints for improper purposes. Her conduct has had a significant impact on the Tribunal’s process, taking up a lot of its scarce time and resources. Ms. Yaniv deliberately sought to weaponize the Tribunal for financial gain and to punish individuals and groups.

Yaniv got off pretty easy. She harassed more than a dozen private businesses for personal gain, wasted everyone’s time, and wound up only paying $6,000 for doing so.

The post Canadian transwoman loses case against beauticians who refused to wax her (male) genitals appeared first on Hot Air.

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Manure Mania: North Koreans are Fighting Over Feces as the Government Demands Every Citizen Produce 200 Pounds of Human Waste

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Think people in America wanna give the government sh**? In North Korea, they’re required to.

Kim Jong-un’s chosen to oppress the crap out of people by burdening them with a poop production mandated minimum.

The poverty-stricken country depends on human waste to nourish its crops, and every household has to cough up the goods. Or, bads.

And it’s a sh**load: Just after the Supreme Leader’s New Year’s address, Radio Free Asia reported that homes were struggling to meet the required 220 pounds per able-bodied citizen.

It’s putting a real strain on everybody.

According to one source, the quota’s intentionally impossible in order to drum up fines and bribes.

Next year’s unreasonably high dung demand has already been set, and in urban areas, people are stealing excrement from each other in the effort to meet the caca collection quotas. Some are even mixing in dirt to enhance their volume.

On October 8th, a resident of Ryanggang province explained the mayhem to RFA:

“The agricultural authorities are forcing residents to produce eight tons of manure for each household to help the local farms. … People in the city are fighting to take over public restrooms. It’s ridiculous.”

There’s a new market for malarkey, but it smells:

“As the absolute amount of manure is nowhere near the quota, there are even now merchants who are selling dried feces. People put all their human feces outside to dry so it’s all over the city. It’s really hard to breathe when you go out on the streets.”

And all those holes left from digging up dirt for doubling the deuce is bad for the environment:

“When it rains, the holes in the dirt become puddles of filth and are the main culprits of environmental destruction.”

The country folk have an even more difficult time in the push for perfection:

“In order to fulfill their quota, people in the countryside have taken all the humus [dark, nutrient-rich soil], to mix with manure, and even rocks from coal mines are being put into the mixture. Since there is not enough soil to mix with the manure, people of all ages are rushing to the coal mines to get the rocks.”

Whether in the city or out, there doesn’t seem to be any commercial assistance — unlike neighboring South Korea, in the DPRK, there’s no Taco Bell.

As relayed by another source, life is hard enough without having to constantly squat in order to pay the Turd Tax:

“The people have no time to take care of themselves. It’s so hard to make a living already but there are so many things they want them to dedicate to the state. People are getting resentful.”

Getting??

So goes existence within a Stalinist totalitarian dictatorship.

Working for the government has its perks, like the freedom to lay off the fiber; but for normal people, life in North Korea really stinks:

“Residents complain that this year, the authorities have been forcing them to do so many of these missions that people can’t even remember everything. Government officials are exempt from these tasks under their authority, but the powerless people are required to carry them out. These powerless people are the only ones made to suffer.”

-ALEX

 

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