Skip to content Skip to navigation

Civil Society Responses to Cao Shunli's Death

Updated: April 23, 2014



Public memorials


  • Frontline Defenders, March 14, 2014: Chinese Government Responsible for the Death of Cao Shunli
  • Human Rights Watch, March 14, 2014: Dispatches: The Death of a Defender in China
  • Amnesty International, March 14, 2014: China: Authorities have "blood on their hands" after activist's death,
  • International Service for Human Rights, March 14, 2014: UN Human Rights Council must demand accountability for death of Cao Shunli
  • Weiquanwang, March 15, 2014: “Weiquanwang”: A statement about the deadly persecution of Beijing human rights supporter Cao Shunli’s
  • Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy, March 17, 2014: Cao Shunli’s death a huge blow to human rights movement in China
  • Amnesty International, March 19, 2014: UN Human Rights Council Twenty-fifth session, 3—28 March 2014 Item 6: Consideration of UPR Reports
  • Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada, March 19, 2014: Oral Statement to the 25th Session of the UN Human Rights Council Regular Session - Oral Statement Item 6: UPR Outcomes: China
  • Amnesty International, March 20, 2014: Attempt to block tribute to rights activist at UN ‘an insulting ploy’
  • International Service for Human Rights, Oral Statement, March 20:

    From statement delivered at China’s UPR Report Consideration (41st Meeting, 25th Regular Session Human Rights Council)

    Mr. President,

    Among the recommendations accepted today is one to ensure that human rights defenders can exercise their legitimate activities, including participation in international mechanisms, without being subjected to reprisals. Describing this as ‘already implemented’ is manifestly untrue. A flagrant case of ‘deadly reprisal’ is that of Chinese human rights defender Cao Shunli. She was arrested as well all know, as she attempted to board her plane to Geneva to attend the Human Rights Council’s September session. While in prison, Ms. Cao was denied proper medical attention, and died last week as a result. Cao Shunli died for her attempt to cooperate with the UPR, for her unwavering dedication to the human rights struggle in her country. She paid with her life for her conviction that the United Nations’ top human rights body would offer civil society some of the space that human rights defenders are denied at home in China. Several human rights defenders have since been either disappeared or detained, simply for showing their support for Cao Shunli.

    Mr President,

    As a Council member, China must uphold the highest human rights standards and fully cooperate with the Council. Cao Shunli’s detention, ill-treatment and ultimately her death is manifestly incompatible with these obligations. Mr President, ISHR and others will use the remaining time allocated to ISHR to observe a moment of silence to remember Cao Shunli and human rights defenders everywhere who lose their lives in this struggle. [Point of Order: China]

  • FIDH and its member organizations, Human Rights in China and International Campaign for Tibet, Oral Statement, March 20:

    From statement delivered at China’s UPR Report Consideration (41st Meeting, 25th Regular Session Human Rights Council)

    FIDH, Human Rights in China, and the International Campaign for Tibet support the moment of silence. We appreciate the numerous recommendations on civil society and human rights defenders. China has accepted and stated it is implementing Ireland's recommendation to facilitate a safe and enabling environment for defenders


    Mr President,

    We echo the serious concerns over suppression of fundamental freedoms and the on-going crackdown on citizen activists. At least 11 rights defenders have been tried recently, including Dr. Xu Zhiyong, who was convicted and imprisoned in January. To demonstrate its respect for its own Constitution and commitment to uphold the highest human rights standards as a member of this Council, China should end prosecution against these defenders and to urgently free all persons arbitrarily detained, including Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia, Guo Feixiong, and Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti, and Tibetan Khenpo Kartse. We mourn the death of rights defender Cao Shunli, whose death while in detention must be thoroughly investigated and those found to be responsible for any actions that contributed to her death be held accountable.

  • Human Rights Watch, Oral Statement, March 20:

    From statement delivered at China’s UPR Report Consideration (41st Meeting, 25th Regular Session Human Rights Council)

    Human Rights Watch supports the moment of silence.

    Mr President,

    If, as China claims in its Outcome Report, ‘No one suffers reprisal for taking part in lawful activities or international mechanisms,’ why did human rights activist, Cao Shunli die. Why was she detained? Mr. President, one week after her death, her family still don’t know where her body is.

    See written version.

  • The World Organization against Torture (OMCT) in conjunction with the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, Oral Statement, March 20:

    From statement delivered at China’s UPR Report Consideration (41st Meeting, 25th Regular Session Human Rights Council)

    Our organisations were also deeply saddened to learn about the death of Chinese human rights defender Cao Shunli on 14 March 2014, after she was denied medical treatment in detention. Cao Shunli was arrested in September 2013 to prevent her from traveling to Geneva to attend a training on UN human rights mechanisms ahead of the UPR of China. Cao Shunli was leading since 2008 a campaign to demand the Chinese Government to allow genuine civil society participation in China’s UPR.

    Our organisations call upon the Human Rights Council and the international community to ensure accountability for Cao’s death as well as for the human rights abuses she died trying to bring to the attention of the international community. The Council needs to assume its responsibility in monitoring that there are no future threats to the participation of civil society representatives. Death is too high a price for cooperating with the UN human rights system.

  • Vigil in front of the Chinese Embassy to Ireland organized by Frontline Defenders, March 18, 2014
  • Changsha candlelight vigil, March 17, 2014
  • Guangzhou public gathering, March 16, 2014
Cao Shunli’s Living Legacy: International and Domestic Responses

Explore Topics

709 Crackdown Access to Information Access to Justice Administrative Detention All about law Arbitrary Detention
Asset Transparency Bilateral Dialogue Black Jail Book Review Business And Human Rights Censorship
Charter 08 Children Chinese Law Circumvention technology Citizen Activism Citizen Journalists
Citizen Participation Civil Society Commentary Communist Party Of China Constitution Consumer Safety
Contending views Corruption Counterterrorism Courageous Voices Cultural Revolution Culture Matters
Current affairs Cyber Security Daily Challenges Democratic And Political Reform Demolition And Relocation  Dissidents
Education Elections Enforced Disappearance Environment Ethnic Minorities EU-China
Family Planning Farmers Freedom of Association Freedom of Expression Freedom of Press Freedom of Religion
Government Accountability Government regulation Government transparency Hong Kong House Arrest HRIC Translation
Hukou Human Rights Council Human rights developments Illegal Search And Detention Inciting Subversion Of State Power Information Control 
Information technology Information, Communications, Technology (ICT) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) International Human Rights International perspective International Relations
Internet Internet Governance JIansanjiang lawyers' rights defense Judicial Reform June Fourth Kidnapping
Labor Camps Labor Rights Land, Property, Housing Lawyer's rights Lawyers Legal System
Letters from the Mainland Major Event (Environment, Food Safety, Accident, etc.) Mao Zedong Microblogs (Weibo) National People's Congress (NPC) New Citizens Movement
Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Olympics One country, two systems Online Activism Open Government Information Personal stories
Police Brutality Political commentary Political Prisoner Politics Prisoner Of Conscience Probing history
Propaganda Protests And Petitions Public Appeal Public Security Racial Discrimination Reeducation-Through-Labor
Rights Defenders Rights Defense Rule Of Law Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Special Topic State compensation
State Secrets State Security Subversion Of State Power Surveillance Technology Thoughts/Theories
Tiananmen Mothers Tibet Torture Typical cases United Nations US-China 
Uyghurs, Uighurs Vulnerable Groups Women Youth Youth Perspective