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

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More