Beijing, police “tolerate” pro human rights sit-in

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Originally published in the AsiaNews on June 27, 2013

Since June 18, group of more than 100 people have been staging sit-in in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ask the government to participate in the drafting of the Annual Report on Human Rights be presented in October at the UN. For now, the police are just monitoring the area as a trial opens against a dissident who asked for the exact same thing in 2012.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – Since June 18, a group of activists have been carrying out a sit-in at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ask the government to allow them participate in the drafting of the Annual Report on Human Rights prepared by the executive at the for United Nations Human Rights  Council’s request. Among the nearly 100 protesters – numbers that are growing every day – is Cao Shunli, who has been on the front lines since 2008 in the battle for “more honesty” in the Report. The news is reported by the Chinese Human Rights Defenders.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) must be delivered to the UN Headquarters by October: the protesters are requesting that the issue of petitions [applications from ordinary citizens to the central government, which often end up with summary arrests and extra-judicial convictions, ed] be included in the text as well as other topics related to human rights. In recent years, in fact, the hundreds of persons detained by the police for having presented their complaints to Beijing were not included in the field of “human rights violations”, but were considered “internal affairs” in the social life of the country.

The police has not broken up the sit-in. Several agents at first asked the demonstrators to “clear the area”, but after they explained their reasons, they left them in peace. For the time being the police have limited their intervention to closely monitoring the area where the peaceful demonstration is being held. The attitude is completely different from that held until now by the police in the case of public demonstrations.

For years, in fact, authorities have intimidated or harassed activists who work for greater transparency and participation in the field of human rights in China. Several Democratic leaders were sentenced to house arrest in 2008, when for the first time they asked to participate in the drafting of the UPR. In October 2012, the Government replied to Cao Shunli saying that the report “involved state secrets” and thus “cannot be shared with the public.”

On June 8 the trial of Lanlan Peng, Hunan activist arrested in August 2012 and tortured in prison for joining the protesters’ demands, opened.

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