Saturday, March 22, 2014

United Nations Statement on Cao Shunli Disappears From Baidu's Search Results

On March 18, 2014, a statement entitled “Deadly Reprisals: UN Experts Deplore the Events Leading to the Death of Chinese Human Rights Defender Cao Shunli, and Ask for Full Investigation” (致命报复:联合国专家对导致中国维权人士曹顺利死亡的事件表示痛惜,并要求予以彻查) was published on the web site of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. An excerpt:
A group of UN experts today expressed their dismay concerning the death of Cao Shunli in hospital on 14 March, and extended their sincere condolences to her family and friends.

Ms. Cao was a prominent human rights lawyer in China who had tirelessly campaigned since 2008 for transparency and greater participation of civil society in the second universal periodic review (UPR) of China’s human rights record by the UN Human Rights Council.

On 14 September 2013, Ms. Cao was prevented by Chinese authorities from boarding a flight from Beijing to Geneva where she was to participate in a human rights seminar and observe China’s UPR. Ms. Cao’s whereabouts were unknown until she was charged with the crime of provocation. Her health deteriorated while she was in detention and she was transferred to hospital in a critical condition on 19 February 2014.

Ms. Cao’s enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention, failing health and the fact that she was denied medical care were brought to the attention of the UN experts who transmitted urgent appeals to China.




These screenshots show that on March 20, a Baidu user searching for “Cao Shunli" (曹顺利 got four results, the first of which was the foregoing statement. A user doing the same search on March 21 only got two results, and the foregoing statement was not among them.

China is a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council. On March 21, 2014, that body issues a press release entitled “Human Rights Council Concludes Debate on its Subsidiary Bodies, Holds Debate on Universal Periodic Review." Some excerpts:
Czech Republic said unfortunately the openness of the Universal Periodic Review process vis a vis civil society stakeholders was under attack, and there had been highly-disturbing reports of persecution, harassment and criminalization of people involved in it. The Czech Republic was appalled by the harassment, arrest and recent death in jail of Ms. Cao Shunli in China and called for a prompt and independent investigation into her death. The Czech Republic tried to be constructively critical in its statements and expected the same from other States.

China firmly rejected any attempt by a country or non-governmental organization to use the Universal Periodic Review to achieve politicized objectives, such as naming and shaming a country. Such politicization ran contrary to the principles of the Universal Periodic Review, especially if certain non-governmental organizations used the time allocated to them to engage in activities that were contrary to the rules of procedure and the Universal Periodic Review itself. Such a confrontational act was an affront to the principles of the objectivity and transparency of the Universal Periodic Review mechanism.
. . . .
Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme expressed its support to the moment of silence called for by its civil society colleagues during the consideration of the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of China. It was very concerned about harassment, arrest and reprisals against members of the non-governmental organizations who wished to cooperate with Human Rights Council mechanisms.
. . . .
China, speaking in a right of reply, said that the constitution of China guaranteed the right to freedom of expression and reiterated that citizens should exercise their rights within the legal framework. China attached importance to the participation of non-governmental organizations in the Universal Periodic Review process and it guaranteed the rights of those detained, including the right to legal representation and adequate medical care. Cao Shunli died of her illness despite the medical care provided and it had nothing to do with China’s Universal Periodic Review.