Canadian Politicians and South Korea's Former Human Rights Ambassador join Hong Kong Watch team as patrons
Hong Kong Watch is delighted to announce the appointment of three new International Patrons: South Korea’s former Ambassador for Human Rights, Jung-Hoon Lee, Canada’s former Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific David Kilgour, and Canada’s Deputy Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Garnett Genuis MP. The three are Hong Kong Watch’s first International Patrons, joining the organisation’s founding Patrons who include the former British Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the independent Cross-bench Peer Lord Alton of Liverpool, the former Labour Party Shadow Minister for Asia Catherine West MP and the barrister Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, who prosecuted Slobodan Milosevic.
The appointment of three International Patrons is a reflection of growing international concern about the erosion of Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy.
Benedict Rogers, co-founder and Chair of Hong Kong Watch, said: “While Britain has a particular legal and moral responsibility towards Hong Kong under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, Hong Kong is a vital international financial centre and, according to its brand slogan, ‘Asia’s world city’, and for that reason the erosion of its freedoms is a world concern. Furthermore, the Sino-British Joint Declaration is an international legal treaty lodged at the United Nations, and therefore is of concern to the international community. For these reasons, Hong Kong Watch has been engaging in international advocacy, at the United Nations, in the European Union, and in Washington, DC, Ottawa, Berlin and other capitals around the world. We are therefore absolutely delighted to announce the appointment of two very distinguished Canadian politicians and South Korea’s eminent former Ambassador for Human Rights as our first international patrons. We intend to invite other distinguished figures from other countries to join us in due course. This is part of a strategy to internationalise concern for Hong Kong’s future, and ensure that friends of ‘Asia’s world city’ speak up to defend its values and way of life which are increasingly under threat.”
The three new Patrons of Hong Kong Watch have a distinguished track record defending human rights.
In addition to serving as South Korea’s Ambassador for Human Rights and its inaugural Ambassador for North Korean Human Rights, Jung-Hoon Lee serves as professor of international relations at Yonsei University in Seoul. As founder of the Yonsei Center for Human Liberty and the Sages Group on North Korean Human Rights, Ambassador Lee has played an active role in raising awareness of North Korean human rights violations. In 2018 he was a senior fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy and has served as an advisor to South Korea’s National Security Council, National Assembly, Ministry of Unification and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Honourable David Kilgour, JD served as Canada’s Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific from 2002-2003, and served in the Canadian Parliament for 27 years. He is now a full-time campaigner for international human rights, after retiring from the Canadian Parliament in 2006. He is the co-author, with David Matas, of a major report on forced organ harvesting in China, Bloody Harvest, co-chair of Canadian Friends of a Democratic Iran, a Senior Fellow of both the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights and the Macdonald Laurier Institute, and a member of the board of the Helsinki-based First Step Forum. In 2010, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Garnett Genuis MP is Canada’s Deputy Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and a tireless champion of human rights around the world. Since his election in 2015, he gained a reputation for being among the most outspoken parliamentarians, having spoken more than 100,000 words in the Chamber during his first year in office – more than all three major party leaders combined. He also visited Hong Kong in 2018.
“Inspired by my maternal grandmother, who was a Holocaust survivor, I was motivated to civic responsibility and political life in order to defend fundamental freedoms and advocate for vulnerable minorities,” Mr Genuis says. “That is why I am privileged to join Hong Kong Watch as a Patron. Furthermore, Canadians gave their lives in the Second World War in order to preserve the freedom of Hong Kong. For this particular reason, because of the sacrifice of Canadian soldiers in this special connection, I believe it is absolutely vital that Canada stands up for Hong Kong. My commitment to the people of Hong Kong, as a Canadian member of parliament and now a Patron of Hong Kong Watch, is to do just that.”
Jung-hoon Lee said: “Having worked on North Korea, which is ruled by perhaps the world’s most closed, most repressive regimes, I know what the denial of freedom looks like. For that reason, I am delighted to add my support to the efforts of Hong Kong Watch, in their fight to keep what has been one of Asia’s most open cities free. Freedom, the rule of law and basic human rights are universal values, of global concern, and they are fundamental to economic prosperity and social cohesion. Hong Kong deserves to have its freedom and autonomy protected – it is not just a matter of morality, it is a matter of obligation and legality, for there are promises made under the Sino-British Joint Declaration that should be honoured, not only by Britain but by the international community.”
David Kilgour said: “Hong Kong is a vibrant, open, global city, and it is in everyone’s interests to keep it so. For that reason I am thrilled to be a Patron of Hong Kong Watch, and to join a wonderful team in their determined fight to stop the erosion of fundamental freedoms and autonomy in Hong Kong. When Hong Kong was handed over to China in 1997, it was on the principle of ‘one country, two systems’. That principle must be defended today. The human rights of Hong Kong people must be defended, the rule of law that makes Hong Kong the global city it is today must be protected, and Hong Kong’s autonomy must be preserved. I will do all I can, together with Hong Kong Watch, to fight for this cause.”
One of Hong Kong Watch’s founding Patrons, former leader of Britain’s Liberal Democrats Lord Ashdown, tragically died in December 2018. Hong Kong Watch continues to mourn his loss, and earlier this year announced the establishment of a Memorial Lecture on Hong Kong in his honour.
Benedict Rogers said: “No one can ever replace Paddy – his energy, his strategic thinking, his commitment, his love of Hong Kong were second to none. But we hope that by the appointment of three new wonderful International Patrons, we can build on Paddy’s legacy, and together with our founding Patrons we will continue to fight for what Paddy believed in. Our message to the people of Hong Kong is this, and it’s a message I believe Paddy would endorse: no matter how hard the fight, we are with you – and now we are internationalising the cause and have brought in some new champions in Jung-Hoon Lee, Garnett Genuis and David Kilgour, and we are privileged to have three of the most capable and dedicated campaigners in the world, joining our already very distinguished team of Patrons.”