News / Asia

    China Arrests Activist for Seeking Public Comment in Rights Report

    U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Uzra Zeya (L) speaks to reporters at a news briefing on the latest U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue in Beijing, August 2013.
    U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Uzra Zeya (L) speaks to reporters at a news briefing on the latest U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue in Beijing, August 2013.
    VOA News
    Later this month, China's human rights record comes under United Nations scrutiny as part of the U.N.’s regular review of members' rights policies. This week, Chinese authorities said they had arrested a prominent activist who has pressed the government to allow the public to contribute to the U.N. report.

    Cao Shunli, a prominent human rights petitioner, has been missing since September 14, when police barred her from boarding a plane to Geneva. Cao was on her way to a human rights meeting in the Swiss city.

    This week, authorities notified Cao’s fellow activists that she was formally arrested Saturday.

    “She is now detained at Beijing’s Number One Detention Center, but we still don’t know what crime she is accused of,” said Zhou Li, who has been participating in sit-ins in front of China’s Foreign Ministry since mid-June together with Cao and dozens of other petitioners.

    Zhou said Cao’s arrest is unwarranted because her actions always have been according to the law.

    “I did not expect that this could happen to her,” said Zhou. “Cao Shunli is a very fair and moderate person, she is not drastic in her actions, and she exercises her rights in accordance with the Chinese law.”

    Petitioning for human rights

    Cao and other like-minded activists have been petitioning authorities to be more open about human rights abuses in China, and allow grassroots organizations to help draft the country’s policy documents on human rights.

    Zhou said the group’s efforts started after the Olympic Games in 2008, when China announced it would detail the human rights situation in a document called the National Human Rights Action Plan.

    “The idea was to create a group that could represent the socially vulnerable people in China, and common people could participate in the drafting of the National Human Rights Action Plan,” said Zhou.

    But all attempts to submit their policy recommendations failed.

    “The National Human Rights Action Plan was edited by the Foreign Ministry together with the State Council Information Office,” said Zhou. “We first went to the Foreign Ministry and they said we needed to go to the State Council Information Office. But at the State Council Information office they would say that this was a matter pertinent to the Foreign Ministry."

    Since June of this year, the group has been asking the Foreign Ministry to have a say in the U.N. Universal Periodic Review, which China is presenting to fellow U.N. Members on October 22.

    The U.N. expects every member to detail its human rights record every four years, and encourages the participation of civil society in drafting the review.

    After Cao and her fellow activists filed for information disclosure about the review, a court in Beijing denied the request. It said that the document was related to China’s national defense and foreign affairs, and was off limits to citizens.

    The ruling said that the Universal Periodic Review is a “diplomatic action” that cannot be subjected to a suit waged by citizens.

    Tang Jitian, a human rights lawyer based in Beijing, said such reasoning is unacceptable. "The state’s power of diplomacy are entrusted from the people, it is the people who give the state the authority to engage in diplomacy,” said Tang.

    Cracking down on dissent

    Tang said monitoring of the government’s actions is especially important in China, where the government is not democratic and thus its authority stands on uncertain grounds.

    In the past few months, Tang and other lawyers have been grouping themselves into a “human rights lawyer league,” to better coordinate their legal cases as well as protect themselves from the crackdown against activists that seems to have intensified in recent months.

    Human Rights Watch estimated that since February, the Chinese government has arbitrarily detained at least 56 activists.

    Authorities have also stepped up their efforts to control online speech by issuing harsh penalties against people who spread rumors online.

    Tang said that although the government remains repressive against free speech, a lot has changed in recent years.

    “Now the government is just one factor in China’s society, and I don’t think it’s even the most important factor anymore,” said Tang.

    People are more aware of their rights, Tang added, and are willing to take action to protect them.

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese Americans for Trump Going Against National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese Americans for Trump Going Against National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora