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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid