Despite China's smooth talk on supposedly spotless human rights record and cooperation with the Council, closer attention should be paid and firmer action taken on the country's actual crackdown on civil society, says Angela Gui, daughter of disappeared Hong Kong bookseller and free expression advocate Gui Minhai.
Geneva – On Monday, ISHR partnered with Angela Gui, a 22-year old student whose father was disappeared and detained in October 2015, to call on the Council and its Members to seek accountability from the Chinese Government regarding her father’s case and many others of human rights defenders unfairly harassed and detained in China.
‘It is critical that the Council hear the voices of victims and their families, and that the UN be fully aware of the human impacts of rights violations on the ground,’ says Sarah M Brooks, ISHR Asia programme manager.
A range of governments also raised concerns with China’s human rights record, including Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Ireland, Germany, the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States.
China, in reply to these statements and those of NGOs such as ISHR, rejected the concerns, noting that ‘A few lawyers who engaged in activities that undermine the State…must be punished according to the law’ and that those countries who spoke out were engaged in ‘double standards’.
My statement at the UN Human Rights Council: https://t.co/bxTnlBRIJo
— Angela Gui (@angelagui_) September 21, 2016
Says Ms Brooks, ‘Angela’s statement highlights the contradiction between China’s discourse at the Council and the harsh reality of its repression.’
‘Her courage in speaking out about her father’s case is inspiring, and we hope that it will create more pressure on the Chinese government to cease disappearances and arbitrary detentions.’
See full text of statement given by Ms Gui here:
Thank you, Mr President.
We heard last week that China is a rule of law country ‘opposed to unlawful detention’ and that China’s Criminal Procedure and other laws have ‘strict provisions’ regarding the use of detention. We heard that the Chinese Government cooperates actively with various Special Procedures.
This is a China that has strong Constitutional guarantees; a China that seeks to ensure attention to economic, social and cultural rights, as well as civil and political rights; a China that appears to play by the rules.
But this is not a China I know.
My father Gui Minhai, a Swedish citizen, was abducted from Thailand and brought into detention in China last October. He paid with his freedom for his work as a publisher, and defender of free expression.
Neither our family nor the Swedish embassy have received any detention notice, nor been told where he is. I am denied regular contact with my father, and have not been given any information on his treatment, health, or legal status. In January this year, my father was paraded on Chinese state-owned television, claiming to have travelled to China voluntarily to hand himself in for a crime supposedly committed thirteen years ago.
My father’s case is emblematic of a broader crackdown on dissent and human rights defenders.
I am here to ask the Council to make sure that my father’s case, and the situation of the growing number of unlawfully detained dissidents in China, stays a priority in its work.
As a member of the Council China is expected to uphold the highest human rights standards. We call on you, Mr President, to formally engage with the Government and request clarification and regular updates on my father’s detention.
I further call on the Council and the delegations here to ensure that China is held to account for its conduct, both at home and abroad, when its actions violate universal human rights and undermine the international human rights system.