The Committee of Concerned Scientists expresses shock and sadness at the news of the death in detention of human rights activist and lawyer Cao Shunli.
Since 2008, Cao has pushed for petitioners and activists to have a voice in China’s domestic human rights reviews and the UN’s universal periodic review (UPR). Authorities first detained Cao at Beijing airport on September 14, 2014, as she was en route to Geneva to participate in a human rights training program. She was formally arrested one month later on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”.
Cao suffered from several conditions, including tuberculosis, liver disease and uterine fibroids, according to the New York-based group Human Rights in China. Beijing’s Chaoyang district detention centre, where she was held, refused to give her medical treatment for months, causing her condition to deteriorate, even though the US Department of State, among others, had repeatedly expressed concern about her health. Cao was finally taken to a hospital on February 19 after she fell into a coma. She spent her last days hooked up to a ventilator.
China’s actions show shocking disregard of its international obligations to Cao Shunlin’s right to due process and to health care while in detention. By punishing Cao for her attempts to improve China’s participation in the UPR process, Chinese authorities also explicitly deny their obligations to the human rights of their own people and as a member of the international community.
- Chinese Activist Dies After Being Denied Medical Help, Says Website (theguardian.com)