Pro-democracy protesters react as police fire water cannons outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong on September 15, 2019. - Hong Kong riot police fired tear gas and water cannons on September 15 at hardcore pro-democracy protesters hurling rocks and petrol bombs, in a return to the political chaos plaguing the city. © NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images

China: Attempt to block tribute to rights activist at UN ‘an insulting ploy’

The Chinese government’s attempt to block a tribute by the UN Human Rights Council to Cao Shunli, a prominent human rights activist, who died in detention is disgraceful, said Amnesty International.  

Chinese officials objected to a proposed moment of silence in her memory during a review of the country’s human rights record at the UN in Geneva today. 

“This is a shameful and insulting ploy by Chinese officials. Not only have the authorities shown complete disregard for Cao’s life, they now appear intent on burying the truth as they have so many times before,” said Roseann Rife, East Asia Research Director at Amnesty International.  

Cao, 52, died from organ failure last Friday at a hospital in Beijing, after six months in detention. She had repeatedly been denied medical care.

Cao was detained last September in Beijing as she attempted to travel to Geneva to attend a human rights training programme. She had led attempts to allow activists to contribute to China’s national human rights report, as part of the ongoing review at the UN.  

“The Chinese authorities’ attempts to whitewash their image on the international stage will not work while they continue to persecute activists at home. The reprehensible treatment of Cao represents an affront to all those who work to promote human rights through the United Nations,” added Rife. 

“Cao was a courageous woman, who dedicated her life to fighting for human rights in China. Instead of trying to prevent the tributes to Cao, the Chinese government should act on all the recommendations of this UN human rights review.”