News / Asia

    Lawyer: No Answers For Family of Chinese Activist Who Died in Prison

    Wang Yu, the lawyer of late Chinese human rights activist Cao Shunli, poses during an interview in Hong Kong, March 20, 2014.
    Wang Yu, the lawyer of late Chinese human rights activist Cao Shunli, poses during an interview in Hong Kong, March 20, 2014.
    The lawyer and family of Chinese rights activist Cao Shunli, who died earlier this month while in government custody, are trying to get some answers about what killed her. They are appealing to the government through legal channels but so far have received only threats in response.

    The day Cao Shunli died, March 14, her brother and sister were called to a hospital in Beijing and saw their sister's dead body.

    Cao Yunli, Cao's brother said police and doctors were in the room and her sister looked extremely emaciated and thin.

    Since then, the family has been denied access to Cao's body.

    Authorities say Cao Shunli suffered from prolonged illness and died of tuberculosis in spite of rescue efforts. But Cao's family insists that she did not receive treatment in prison and repeated requests for medical parole went unanswered.

    Beijing-based lawyer Wang Yu has been following Cao's case since September, when authorities barred her from boarding a plane to Geneva and put her under detention. Cao was scheduled to participate in a discussion at the United Nations about human rights in China.

    Wang said the family now wants an investigation into the cause of her death, and prosecution for the people responsible.

    She said a third party, like the United Nations, should participate in the investigation.

    Cao Shunli had been staging peaceful sit ins in front of the Foreign Ministry building in Beijing asking for more grassroots participation into the Universal Periodic Review, a U.N. mechanism that routinely reviews the human rights record of member countries.
     
    In its official response to the U.N., adopted by the Human Rights Council five days after Cao's death, the government wrote, “there is no such issue of suppressing human rights defenders in China.”
     
    But Cao Shunli’s death has drawn concern from rights groups and U.N. authorities, including Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Last week in Geneva, Beijing objected and interrupted a minute of silence proposed by NGOs in memory of Cao's death during a review of China’s human rights record.
     
    But while China insists it treats all citizens on the basis of the law, people who petition for politically sensitive issues are rarely granted due process or a fair trial.  Efforts by their lawyers to find justice are also hampered.
     
    Wang Yu, Cao's lawyer, said she and Cao's family have been subjected to intimidation since they started investigating Cao's death.

    Authorities discouraged Cao's family from further pursuing the case.

    Wang Yu said officers from the local security bureau sent phone messages to her husband and visited their home.

    She said they made references to Liu Xiaofang, a close friend of Cao Shunli and fellow activist who has recently disappeared.

    "What they meant is that I could be next," Wang said. "But I did not do anything illegal so they would not have any reason to detain me at this point," she added.

    In China, lawyers who defend dissidents or other sensitive clients are heavily monitored, and run the risk of being prosecuted themselves.

    A week ago, four well known human rights lawyers were detained in the northern province Heilongjiang after they attempted to visit an illegal detention center known as a “black jail” and file a lawsuit to the local court.

    The clients they represented were practitioners of the Falun Gong, a spiritual movement banned in China.  

    Instead, authorities charged the lawyers with 15 days administrative detention for “using cult activities to endanger society."

    On Thursday, other human rights lawyers circulated messages on their microblog accounts saying the four lawyers, Tang Jitian, Jiang Tianyong, Zhang Junjie, and Wang Cheng had been subject to various degree of torture while under detention. VOA could not independently verify the claims.

    You May Like

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora