Submission to UN on Cao Shunli – September 19, 2013Comments Off on Submission to UN on Cao Shunli – September 19, 2013
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders
Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association
Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression
on behalf of CAO Shunli, citizen of the People’s Republic of China
Alleging Reprisal Against a Human Rights Defender & Violation of Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Freedom of Expression
1. Name of alleged victim/s
Cao Shunli (曹顺利) Female
DOB: 28 March 1961
Nationality: Han Chinese
Profession: Freelance writer, human rights defender
Residence: Beijing, China
2. Status of the victim as a human rights defender
In the past few years, Cao Shunli has persistently advocated for civil society participation at the national level in China’s preparation for the 2009 and then the 2013 UPR, particularly in the drafting of the national human rights reports.
Since China pledged at the UN to have “broad consultation” with the public in drafting its human rights action plan and national human rights report prior to its first UPR in 2009, Ms. Cao and other Chinese activists have requested the government to both disclose materials about its UPR and permit civil society participation in the reviews. In response, China’s State Council representatives simply cited “instructions from above” in refusing to accept the activists’ appeals. Since such a request was first submitted in December 2008, some of the leading activists have been intimidated, put under house arrest, or detained. Ms. Cao also has advocated including the views of petitioners in drafting China’s national human rights report for UPR.
Starting in June 2013, Ms. Cao and fellow activists in Beijing have held peaceful demonstrations in front of the building that houses the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, demanding participation in UPR. When activists were demonstrating most recently, police forced the protesters to leave, citing the need “to clean up” the area on September 2—the third time this year that such a sit-in has been broken up at the same location. A demonstration in June attracted up to 200 activists at one point before police warned protesters to leave the scene and cleared the area on July 1, taking dozens of protesters into temporary custody.
In November 2012, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) reply to Ms. Cao’s application for public disclosure of information about UPR officially stated that the process involved “state secrets.” Ms. Cao was also among dozens of citizens who filed a lawsuit against the MFA regarding the lack of transparency about UPR. A Beijing court refused to hear the suit, however, issuing a decision in August 2013 that reinforced authorities’ rejection of civil society participation in UPR.
3. Alleged violation/s committed against the victim
Reprisal against a human rights defender by means of deprivation of liberty to prevent her from participation in UN human rights activities, for exercising her right to peaceful assembly and association, and freedom of expression.
Since the end of 2008, Ms. Cao has been detained several times by authorities in retaliation for these efforts, with reprisals involving consistent harassment of many activists over that time. For example, Ms. Cao and a fellow activist were seized by Beijing police in February 2009 after trying to submit an application at the State Council Information Office about helping to draft the first “National Human Rights Action Plan.” On December 9, 2011, the eve of UN Human Rights Day, Ms. Cao was briefly taken into custody by police in Beijing when she was preparing to submit an application to help draft China’s “Human Rights Action Plan for 2012-2015.” In addition, on August 13, 2012, Beijing police seized more than a dozen activists, including Ms. Cao, who were en route to the State Council Information Office, where they hoped to submit an application for public disclosure about the Action Plan’s drafting process.
On September 14, 2013, authorities in China stopped Ms. Cao from boarding a flight for Geneva to attend a training on UN human rights mechanisms and Human Rights Council sessions as a representative of civil society. Ms. Cao’s whereabouts have been unknown since then, after being taken away by security agents at the Beijing Capital International Airport. In the past four years, Ms. Cao has been sent to Re-education through Labor and endured other periods of detention.
Government officials at security check in the Beijing Capital International Airport; officers of the Beijing Public Security Bureau
Another participant who had travelled to the Beijing Capital International Airport with Ms. Cao (from where they were to fly together to Geneva) witnessed airport security officers stopping Ms. Cao, refusing to give back her passport to her, and taking her away.
5. Action by authorities
Ms. Cao’s family and colleagues have tried to contact her since September 14 through various communication channels without any success. Chinese Human Rights Defenders has reported on her disappearance since she was seen being taken away by authorities at the Beijing Capital International Airport:
“Chinese Authorities Block Two Activists From Attending Training on UN Human Rights Mechanisms, Disappear One,” September 17, 2013
6. Link between the violation and human rights work
The harassment of Ms. Cao by Chinese authorities and deprivation of her liberty are reprisals against her human rights work and her efforts as a member of civil society to participate in UN human rights activities.
Submitted: September 19, 2013