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

    S. African Farmer Goes From 'Voice in the Wilderness' to Sought-After Expert

    Margarest Roberts has authored more than 40 books on subjects like organic farming, urban agriculture, herbs and ‘superfoods'

    Millennial Men Prefer Bucks Over Beauty

    U.S. men aged 18 to 34 say the finances of a potential significant other are more important than her looks

    Multimedia Lebanese Clown Troupe Marks Valentine's Day Amid Stink

    Activists resort to unusual approaches to raise public awareness of country’s ongoing trash crisis

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.