According to information received by Human Rights in China (HRIC), all participants at a sit-in in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) were taken away by the police on the morning of July 1. Ongoing postings on Weibo report that petitioners from Beijing were taken to and detained at several police stations in Chaoyang District; those from outside Beijing were taken to Jiujingzhuang (a Beijing district where there is a facility to detain petitioners); and Cao Shunli (曹顺利), one of the protest’s organizers who had previously lost contact with the group, was reported en route home by the evening of July 1 (Beijing time).
“Instead of rounding up people, the Chinese government needs to respond to the constructive demands of its own citizens for greater transparency and participation,” said Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China. “International guidelines and norms for UN human rights reports have consistently urged reporting states to conduct broad-based consultation with the public and civil society in drafting these reports.”
The rights activists initiated the sit-in mid-June to petition the government for greater public disclosure, consultation, and participation in China's human rights reporting to the United Nations. Cao Shunli outlined the following specific demands that were submitted to the MFA, which press for prioritized action on the situation of petitioners, corruption, and stability maintenance:
[Translation by HRIC]
1) Before submitting the State report to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the MFA should allow petitioners and human rights defenders to participate in the drafting of the State report; instruct specific government institutions and officials to consult with petitioners and human rights defenders regularly and adequately on a monthly basis; and accept the "Human Rights Situation Surveys," compiled and written by petitioners and human rights defenders, and use these surveys as well as other petition cases accumulated by various government agencies over the years as the basis for the drafting of the State Human Rights report.
2) Before submitting the State report to the UN Human Rights Council, make it possible for petitioners and human rights defenders to participate in the government working group responsible for drafting and writing the State report, so that they can consult with the working group's members, including the Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Supervision, Supreme Court, Letters and Petitions Office, State Council's Letters and Petitions Office, and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, among others. The reasons for the huge backlog and the delay in responding to petitions should be studied, and effective measures should be put in place to address them.
3) Through consultation and discussion, prioritize petitioning, corruption, and stability maintenance (which affect economic development and social stability), as key themes of the State report; truthfully and comprehensively reflect the human rights situation in China, in particular the situation facing petitioners and human rights defenders in China; and make commitments and take measures to improve the situation.
China has already submitted two periodic reports to UN expert bodies—The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (submitted May 2010, to be reviewed in the fall session of the Committee), and the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (submitted, June 30, 2010, review not yet calendared). China’s second UPR report to the Human Rights Council is due on July 22, 2013. China is scheduled for its second UPR review on October 22, 2013.
For more information on China's Universal Periodic Review and related UN work, see:
Activists Rally at Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Demand Participation in Drafting State Party Report to UPR, Chinese Human Rights Defenders, June 27, 2013