Posts Tagged ‘Cao Shunli’

The remarkable crackdown on lawyers in China in July 2015

July 29, 2015

On 10 July 2015 over 250 lawyers and support staff were detained or questioned by the police in China in one of the largest crackdowns in recent years. Many newspapers and NGOs have reported on this phenomenon. This is the situation on 29 July: Read the rest of this entry »

How utterly wrong a Chinese newspaper commentary can be…

May 14, 2015

Zhu Junqing, writing in the Shanghai Daily of 13 May 2015, is the prime example of how distorted the Chinese government’s view of the international human rights regime is. Under the title: “U.S. needs to work on own human rights record first before blaming others“, the author quite rightly points to the UN Human Rights Council findings on 11 May and the comments by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, which conclude that there a lot of human right problems remain unresolved in the USA (including excessive use of force by law enforcement agencies, racial, religious and sex discrimination, Guantanamo Bay detention, migrant rights, environmental issues and counterterrorism practices). Also he recalls correctly that the United States is one of the two countries in the world that have not ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and is reluctant on other international instruments.

But then the article draws exactly the wrong conclusion. Instead of appreciating the UN’s courage to tackle a superpower, it call the USA the “ultimate human rights judge” (why??) and concludes that this “self-proclaimed human rights watchdog, needs to examine itself critically and improve its own human rights record before [!] blaming other countries for their violations”. Since “no country is perfect in its human rights record,” as Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying put it, “any country with human rights defects should work hard to resolve its own problems and improve its own human rights record before casting the first stone”.

Yep, that it the solution! Nobody criticizes anybody and we are all happy. The more obvious and consistent solution does not even get mentioned: IF the USA can be criticized, WHY is China so fearful and retaliates regularly against human rights defenders? [e.g. https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/03/20/china-in-the-un-human-rights-council-manages-to-silence-cao-shunli-as-well-as-ngos/ ].

China’s own extraordinary sensitivity to ‘interference’ of any level into what it considers its domestic affairs is well-known. I touched upon this hot’ topic’ in my own 2011 article “The international human rights movement: not perfect, but a lot better than many governments think” in the book ‘NGOs in China and Europe’ (exceptionally also published in Chinese!): Yuwen Li (ed), Ashgate, 2011, pp 287-304 (ISBN: 978-1-4094-1959-4).

Commentary: U.S. needs to work on own human rights record first before blaming others | Shanghai Daily.

China OR the UN must ensure independent investigation into death of Cao Shunli !

March 27, 2015

When late Chinese human rights defender Cao Shunli – as Final Nominee of he Martin Ennals Award 2014 – got a standing ovation during the ceremony in October last year, we all said, with the 10 NGOs on the Jury, that we should not forget her. On 19 March 2015 in a statement to the UN Human Rights Council that is exactly what a group of NGOs [International Service for Human Rights and supported by Human Rights WatchCIHRSCIVICUSConectasEHARDPArticle 19HRHF and ALRC] asked for: Ensure independent investigation into death of Cao Shunli.CAO_SHUNLI_PORTRAIT

China must ensure a full, independent and impartial investigation into the death of Chinese human rights defender Cao Shunli, ..If Chinese authorities are unable or unwilling to conduct such an investigation in accordance with international standards, the Human Rights Council as the world’s top human rights body must take appropriate action, the statement said.

One year after her tragic death, there has been no adequate investigation or accountability in relation to the death of Chinese defender Cao Shunli,’ said Michael Ineichen, Head of Human Rights Council Advocacy at ISHR. ‘If China is let of the hook for such a blatant case of reprisals against someone wanting to cooperate with UN human rights mechanisms, the Council sends a message to rights abusers that activists can be attacked with impunity.’

The statement highlighted the negative effect of impunity for cases of intimidation and reprisals, as shown by the numerous reported cases of intimidation and reprisals occurring during the 28th session of the Human Rights Council, including against South Sudanese and Bahraini defenders.

The legal and moral obligations of States to protect those who cooperate with the UN are clear, and if a State fails to conduct stop reprisals or to properly investigate allegations, the UN has a responsibility to act, the statement said.

We welcome recent advances on the institutional level, such as the treaty body policies that recognise States’ primary duty to ensure accountability in the case of reprisals, and the UN’s own duty of care,’ said Eleanor Openshaw, Head of Reprisals Advocacy at ISHR. ‘However, in the absence of a more systematic approach, such as through a dedicated focal point on reprisals which could coordinate investigation of and follow-up to individual cases, these steps will remain the proverbial drop in the ocean’   The statement is available as a PDF and video.

for more on reprisals in this blog see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/reprisals/

Stop dancing with dictators, says Chinese human rights defender Teng Biao

March 17, 2015

‘Chinese leaders are not known for tolerating dissent, but Xi Jinping is less tolerant than his predecessors.’  Photograph: EPA/WU HONG

‘ Xi Jinping, even less tolerant than his predecessors.’ Photograph: EPA/WU HONG

Human rights defender Teng Biao, a visiting fellow at Harvard Law School, President of China Against the Death Penalty, and Co-founder of the Open Constitution Initiative, is in Ireland as the guest of Front Line Defenders. In a post of 10 March 2015, he depicts the grim situation of human rights defenders in China since President Xi took office. ‘Chinese human rights defenders are facing the most severe crackdown since the Tiananmen massacre in 1989’ he statesThe hard-hitting piece [“Over 1,000 human rights activists were detained since President Xi took office“] is interesting enough to provide in full:

“I remember Cao Shunli’s speech during her trial. She was a brave activist who fought for land rights, documented cases of human rights abuse and participated in the United Nations human rights system.Tang Jingling, a lawyer in Guangzhou, is a prominent leader of the non-violent civil disobedience movement.

Ilham Tohti is a Uighur professor who set up a website to promote the rights of the muslim Uighur people. He advocated mutual understanding and reconciliation between Han Chinese and the Uighurs.

Pu Zhiqiang and Xu Zhiyong are both well known lawyers who have played a key role in abolishing the laws allowing extrajudicial detentions, in breach of China’s own constitution. Xu also founded an NGO called the Open Constitution Initiative, focusing on religious freedom and free speech. The organisation worked on the issues of forced eviction, forced abortion and ensuring transparency in local elections.

Guo Feixiong, Liu Ping, Ding Jiaxi, Zhao Changqing, all took an important part in the New Citizens Movement which has campaigned for constitutional government and for Communist Party officials to declare their assets.

Cao Shunli was arrested on her way to a human rights training in Geneva and died in custody as a result of torture, on March 14th, 2014. All the others are now in jail.

Chinese leaders are not known for tolerating dissent, but Xi Jinping is less tolerant than his predecessors. Over a thousand human rights activists have been detained since Xi took office, and Chinese human rights defenders are facing the most severe crackdown since the Tiananmen massacre in 1989. Xi’s suppression is widespread, targeting not just those at the forefront of the human rights struggle in China, but also faith groups, internet users, universities, and the media. Many members of China’s budding civil society, who have avoided politically risky issues so far, are now also being jailed.

In the past, those who crossed a red line, who stood out, took to the street, or who engaged in organised actions were the main targets of the crackdown. Now, the dragnet is much wider and is being used against anyone who demonstrates. At least 10 feminist activists were detained last week as they planned to stage a small protest against sexual harassment on public transport, which is a common occurrence in China. The government seems to be targeting all the nodes that connect civil society, picking off emerging civil society leaders, and destroying the capacity for civil resistance.

It seems that the Communist Party of China has never been stronger or more confident: China is the second largest economy in the world. China is exerting more influence on the international stage. There is no viable opposition, and the Chinese model is more effective than western democracies that have been bogged down by financial crises and intractable social problems. But as David Shambaugh pointed out in his recent article in the Wall Street Journal, “A more secure and confident government would not institute such a severe crackdown. It is a symptom of the party leadership’s deep anxiety and insecurity.”

For the Communist Party of China, “governing the country according to law” does not mean the “rule of law” as you and I understand it. It is first and foremost a tool to further control society, as the Party understands perfectly well that the rule of law, freedom of information, religious freedom, property rights, and other basic features of democratic governance would mean the demise of the Party’s rule, as Freedom House pointed out in its recent report.

Chinese civil society, fragile as it is, owes its emergence to the dedication and sacrifice of many human rights defenders. Every day, we receive information from all over the country about human rights defenders being detained, disappeared, tortured, or sentenced. But despite the perilous journey, more and more Chinese people – lawyers and journalists, farmers and bloggers, poor and rich, young and old, males and females – have stepped up to join the human rights movement, driven by their dignity, belief in freedom, and the desire to make a difference in our time of great change.

These Orwellian rulers can only do so much damage to the spirit of the people. A few are silenced but many more are inspired by a combination of international and domestic recognition, the admiration of “fellow travellers”, a sense of mission, and occasional victories in human rights cases. I speak from experience. I have been banned from teaching, fired from my job, disbarred, disappeared, detained and tortured for my human rights work since 2003, but I have never felt that I should stop. I believe it is my responsibility to fight for freedom for the next generation, for the dream that my children can live in a free and democratic country. This dream is shared by more and more Chinese people, even at this unlikely moment when the night seems the darkest.

Most Beijing watchers in the west misunderstand Beijing. Every time Beijing has a new slogan like “rule by law” or “harmonious society,” they embrace it as a sign of change, ignoring all the evil the Communist Party of China has been perpetrating. They fail to see where the real hope lies and remain fixated on the ruling class. Their selective blindness has hindered the West’s understanding of the real state of affairs in today’s China. If we human beings can learn anything from modern history, it is that it is time for the West to stop wishful thinking, to stop dancing with dictators, and to support human rights activists who are challenging the one-party dictatorship in China. History will judge the crimes committed by dictators against universal values, and it will also remember those Western governments who adopted short-sighted policies of appeasement in dealing with autocratic regimes and favouring trade over human rights.”

Over 1,000 human rights activists were detained since President Xi took office.

Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders 2015: nominations until 9 December

October 16, 2014
Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders

Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders

The Martin Ennals Foundation is accepting nominations for the 2015 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders.The goal of the program is to extend recognition and protective publicity to those who are currently involved in frontline work involving the promotion and protection of human rights. Recent recipients include individuals and organizations from Bangladesh, China, Chechnya, Cambodia, Uganda, Syria, Iran, Uzbekistan, Burundi, Sri Lanka, and Zimbabwe. The award is granted annually to an individual or, in exceptional cases, an organization in recognition of their commitment and ongoing efforts in the defense and promotion of human rights. Nominees must currently be involved in work for the promotion and protection of human rights. Priority is given to those who are at risk and have demonstrated an active record of combating human rights violations by courageous and innovative means. The program aims to encourage and promote the work of individuals or organizations, particularly if they are working in conditions hostile to fundamental human rights and are in need of protection.No posthumous awards are given except when a candidate has already passed the first round [as happened this year with Cao Shunli]. The candidate should not use or advocate violence. Anybody can nominate an individual or organization. Neither individuals nor organizations may nominate themselves. The present value of the annual award is 20,000 Swiss francs, which should be used for further work in the field of human rights. All 3 Final Nominees will be invited to the award ceremony which is hosted by the City of Geneva in late 2015.

The deadline is 9 December 2014

Program guidelines in English, French, and Spanish, FAQ, online nomination form, and information about previous recipients are available at the website: www.martinennalsaward.org

via Martin Ennals Foundation Invites Nominations for Human Rights Defenders Award | RFPs | PND.

Don’t miss the High Commissioner’s words at MEA 2014 ceremony

October 10, 2014

The ceremony of the Martin Ennals Award 2014 is over (7 October 2014). It was again very impressive to hear and see 3 courageous Human Rights Defenders being honored. Some 450 people (my estimate) gave standing ovations to the 3 nominees whose work was shown in impressive films produced for the occasion. The film portraits are already available on the website: http://www.martinennalsaward.org where there is also a short summary of the whole evening.

Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders

Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders

Especially the film on Chinese HRD Cao Shunli is a masterpiece given that the film makers had almost no images to work with due to the modesty of the human rights defender as well as her untimely death in detention only 2 days after her nomination in March 2014.

The internet has buzzed with congratulations and encouragements to the other two nominees, Adilur from Bangladesh and Alejandra Ancheita from Mexico. The latter became ultimately the Laureate [see https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/10/07/breaking-news-alejandra-ancheita-is-the-2014-mea-laureate/#more-5648 ].

One of the nicest surprises was the address by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights at one of his first public appearances outside the UN. UN HCHR Al Hussein The High Commissioner gave a moving and almost poetic description of the sorry state of affairs left to human rights defenders to correct: He said inter alia: Read the rest of this entry »

Breaking News: Alejandra Ancheita is the 2014 MEA Laureate

October 7, 2014

AlejandraTM4M1713The Martin Ennals Foundation just announced in Geneva – during a ceremony broadcast live on the internet – that the MEA Laureate of 2014 is  Alejandra Ancheita from Mexico. She was selected by a Jury representing the broad international Human Rights movement (see below).

Alejandra Ancheita is the founding Director of ProDESC. For over 15 years she has worked with migrants, workers, and indigenous communities to protect their land and labour rights vis-a-vis transnational mining and energy companies. These disputes have included violent attacks on those she is trying to protect. She is also one of the pioneers in seeking accountability for transnational companies in Mexican courts when local communities’ rights are not taken into account. In Mexico, there is a clear pattern of attacks, threats, criminalization, and murders of human rights defenders. Ms Ancheita and ProDESC have been subjected to surveillance, a defamation campaign in the national media, and a break in at their offices. Read the rest of this entry »

High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, to hand out MEA on 7 October

October 3, 2014

Reminder: Martin Ennals Award 2014 to be announced at Ceremony in Geneva on 18:00, 7 October, at Uni Dufour. Watch live on: www.martinennalsaward.org

2014 poster MEA Geneva

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

for more detail on the nominees: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/06/22/announcement-ceremony-of-the-martin-ennals-award-2014-on-7-october/

Human Rights Council in throwback to muzzling NGOs

September 24, 2014

Phil Lynch, Director of the International Service for Human Rights, wrote an insightful post on URG Insights that is a must. It describes with concrete examples how the current Human Rights Council – and especially its Bureau – is failing to uphold the acquired right of NGOs to speak freely in the UN and – when necessary – mention names of offending countries. It seems like a complete throwback to the early 80’s when in the then Commission on Human Rights NGOs were restricted in mentioning countries by name. This let to untenable and even comical situations where NGOs would describe in detail atrocities and then say that they were talking about a big country in the south of Latin America, only to be asked by the Chair to say which country they had in mind. When the obvious answer came: “Argentina”, the NGO was ruled out of order! That States now feel that the time is right to try again to muzzle NGO criticism became already clear last year with China’s elaborate efforts to silence the ‘one minute silence’ for Cao Shunli [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/03/20/china-in-the-un-human-rights-council-manages-to-silence-cao-shunli-as-well-as-ngos/] and the worryingly broad support it got for its procedural wrangling. Thus it would be crucial that the whole NGO movement and the States that support them take a clear stand. In meantime Lynch’s Human Rights Council President, Bureau and Member States must respect the role and rights of NGOs” is giving the right background and follows here in toto:

“The right, and indeed the responsibility, of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to critique governments, expose and pursue accountability for human rights violations, and advocate for changes in law, policy and practice should be uncontroversial and uncontested. This is particularly the case at the UN Human Rights Council, the world’s apex body for human rights debate and dialogue, the mandate of which includes promoting and protecting the right to freedom of expression.

Read the rest of this entry »

New UN High Commissioner for Human Rights should be the “human rights defender-in-chief”

August 11, 2014

My reference last week to an interview with the new Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/08/05/michel-forst-new-special-rapporteur-on-human-rights-defenders-gives-indication-of-his-priorities/] seemed well appreciated judging from the number of views. Therefore I now refer you to a piece by the Director of the ISHR, Phil Lynch, of 16 July, who addresses the incoming UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein as the “human rights defender-in-chief “, saying that he has a particular responsibility to protect human rights defenders, especially so when they face intimidation and reprisals for their efforts to seek accountability at the UN for human rights violations. Read the rest of this entry »