Interpol must come clean on Hong Kong
February 20, 2022
Interpol is supposed to be a respected international police organization, for collaboration to nab murderers and rapists. But when the world’s worst criminals get control, it starts to look closer to terrorism or the mafia.
That is the sorry state of international policing as Interpol refuses to help Hongkongers who are fleeing persecution from Beijing’s so-called National Security Law (NSL). Interpol should publicly reaffirm the safety of Hong Kong human rights advocates who fear its politicized arrest warrants, called “red notices.”
The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) 2020 NSL is horrible and broadly worded, according to Amnesty International, and has global extraterritorial effect. The law applies globally to anyone of any citizenship who organizes peaceful protests anywhere, for example, on Chinese human rights issues. Beijing can use its influence to get Interpol to issue red notices against anyone who violates the NSL—chilling freedom of speech everywhere.
Did you attend a human rights protest on Hong Kong, or against the Uyghur genocide, and then go to Portugal for vacation? Watch out—Interpol could have you on a list and arrest you when you land with your Hawaiian shorts and Vinho Verde in hand.
The Portuguese authorities, who have an extradition treaty with China, could then send you for prosecution in a Beijing court. Surprise. Vacation over.
On Jan. 13, 16 Hongkongers and their supporters signed an open letter to the Interpol General Secretariat. They wrote, “Most of us have been forced to flee Hong Kong after the imposition of the National Security Law, which essentially created a set of political crimes.”
“Our only real crime is standing up for the fundamental human rights and liberties enshrined in the [U.N.] Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” signed in 1948 by China, Britain, the United States, and most other countries at the time.
One of the letter signatories from Hong Kong, Simon Cheng, claims to have been tortured while detained by the Chinese regime. He was at the time a British Consulate employee in Hong Kong.
Simon Cheng (front left) and Finn Lau (center) in a march commemorating the two-year anniversary of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement in London on June 12, 2021. (Yanning Qi/The Epoch Times)
The British Foreign Office warned another British citizen, Luke de Pulford, that he risked extradition to Hong Kong for prosecution.
According to the letter’s authors, the Chinese regime in 2021 increased its talk of “going after” the activists, including through Interpol. “Most of us undersigned have been confirmed as being wanted or having an arrest warrant on us, based on the National Security Law,” they wrote. “Others have been implicated in court documents or in State-aligned media publications.”
The signatories are likely the “tip of the iceberg,” as they noted, given tens of thousands of human rights advocates who fled Hong Kong since Beijing’s suppression of pro-democracy protesters and free media in that city.
“The constant threat and uncertainty of a potential arrest as China expands its long-arm policing efforts by both legal and illegal means, creates a profound chilling effect striking at the heart of fundamental liberties such as the freedom of expression and movement everywhere,” they wrote.
The letter signatories give the example of the Uyghur Idris Hasan, targeted by a China-initiated Interpol red notice in 2017. Hasan was detained and is currently facing deportation from Morocco. The notice was apparently issued in violation of Interpol’s own rules and review processes. If extradited to China, he could be detained in a “reeducation” camp, subjected to forced labor, tortured, forcefully sterilized, or killed.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is conducting at least one genocide—maybe three if one includes the persecution of Falun Gong and Tibetans. The CCP rules through force rather than democratic election. It conducts fear campaigns against anyone who complains. The CCP should be considered a terrorist organization by U.S. law, as argued by Teng Biao, a respected University of Chicago academic, and Terri Marsh, an international human rights lawyer.
This is the country with which Interpol, and its member states, continue to sully themselves by continuing to treat the CCP’s China as a legitimate member of the international system.
In 2018, Interpol was led by Meng Hongwei, a Chinese police official answerable to the Beijing regime. When he ran afoul of CCP leader Xi Jinping, he himself was arrested on a trip to China. Beijing is now targeting Meng’s wife and twin boys, who the French police are thankfully providing with 24-hour protection.
Meng Hongwei, former president of Interpol, gives an address at the opening of the Interpol World Congress in Singapore on July 4, 2017. (Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images)
In November, China’s Hu Binchen was elected as one of Interpol’s 13 executive committee members. Hu is a senior police official answerable to Beijing. The organization elected an official from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as its president at the same time. The official, Ahmed Naser Al-Raisi, is accused of overseeing torture against a UAE human rights defender as well as against two Britons.
The UAE has long cooperated with China through extraditions of Uyghurs back to China. One report claims that Chinese police are detaining Uyghurs in a black jail on UAE territory. The UAE is a Belt and Road country, and has extensive trade with the totalitarian country.
Cheng argues that Interpol should cancel any red notices it may have issued against human rights defenders, and confess publicly to having issued them.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board argues that America is not doing enough to protect those wrongly targeted by Interpol. While the State Department did say that “we will continue to stand with Hong Kongers as they respond to Beijing’s assault on their freedoms,” according to the Journal, these are just words. The U.S. government has not directly addressed the serious allegations of Beijing’s abuse of Interpol.
“The Biden Administration should push Interpol for a public response,” the Journal wrote. “If not, Hong Kongers might find out they’re a target only after it’s too late. Meanwhile, they will be living in fear, which is exactly what China wants.”
The Journal is right to demand at least this much from the Biden administration. But even this is a band-aid solution that fails to address the ultimate cause of the problem.
America must do more.
The CCP is closer to a mafia or terrorist organization than to a legitimate political party in control of a legitimate state apparatus. It is absolutely wrong to allow for it to control or even influence decision-making at the highest levels of international policing.
China should be kicked off Interpol until it gets its house in order, including an immediate cessation of the genocide and what may seem impossible but what should be demanded in accordance with the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Beijing must begin to actively support democratization and human rights reforms within China itself.
To allow a country that is currently conducting a genocide, the world’s worst crime, into a so-called police organization, year after year, is worse than perverse. It sullies the good name of all other countries and police officials who are trying to responsibly use Interpol for good and ethical policing.
Interpol stands for “International Criminal Police Organization.” The awkward name is looking ever more apt, the more criminal its leadership appears to be.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.