News / Asia

Activists Press for Reform During China Congress

Wang Yu, the lawyer of human right activist Cao Shunli, talks on the phone in front of a hospital building where Cao is hospitalized at its intensive care unit in Beijing,  March 1, 2014.
Wang Yu, the lawyer of human right activist Cao Shunli, talks on the phone in front of a hospital building where Cao is hospitalized at its intensive care unit in Beijing, March 1, 2014.
Shannon Van Sant
— On the eve of China's National People's Congress, human rights activists are urging the Chinese government to further reform the of rule of law and allow freedom of speech.  Their requests come as friends of one activist say she is dying while in police detention.  
 
Cao Shunli, a prominent human rights activist in China, was in police custody when she suffered organ failure last weekend - a result, her lawyers say, of not being allowed to get proper treatment for tuberculosis and liver disease.

Cao was arrested last fall after staging sit ins outside of China’s Foreign Ministry.  She was protesting for the Chinese public to be allowed to participate in drafting China’s national human rights report ahead of a review by the United Nations. She has remained in detention every since.

Fellow activists, who fear she may only have days to live, say it’s another sign of a crackdown on dissidents by the Chinese government and are pressing for change as China’s top legislators meet in Beijing for the National Party Congress.
 
“For those who managed to get across to meet her, it seems that she is in a very critical situation, and she might have only a few more days to live,” stated Maya Wong, a researcher with Human Rights Watch. 
 
When asked how activist Cao Shunli’s declining health reflects on the status of human rights in China, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said the two are unrelated.
 
He said Cao is suspected of violating laws and committing crimes and that relevant Chinese authorities are working in accordance with the law.  He says Cao’s case has nothing to do with China’s human rights situation.
 
News of Cao’s worsening condition came days after the arrest of another prominent activist, Ilham Tohti.  Tohti was a respected scholar, economist and longtime champion of the rights of ethnic minority Uighurs.  Uighurs are China’s mostly Muslim ethnic group who live primarily in Xinjiang Province.  Xinjiang has been a center of protests and unrest for the last several years.  Police charged Tohti with separatism last week, and his lawyer says Tohti could receive the death penalty.  
 
In a letter Tuesday to President Xi Jinping and National Party Congress Chairman Wu Bangguo, the international rights group Human Rights Watch urged several reforms, including greater freedom of speech and rule of law.  
 
Last year, China did abolish its re-education through labor system, but Wong says that move will not have a large enough impact on rule of law and human rights in China.  
 
“The government tries to present some piecemeal reform to try to satisfy the public,” Wong added.
 
Lawyer Teng Biao said repression and detention of dissidents has increased over the past year, but so have the number of people who are protesting.  “Even if so many human rights activists are being arrested, there are still more and more people becoming human rights activists, so the hope is in civil society not in the central government,” he said.
 
Many of those people are speaking out for reform; Xi Jinping’s challenge over the next year will be meeting those demands while maintaining Party rule.

You May Like

Video On The Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime bombardment, VOA correspondent finds More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid