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HRIC Urges China to Release Rights Activists to Show Human Rights Commitment

November 5, 2013

In advance of the November 12 Human Rights Council elections, HRIC urges China to honor the pledge it has made for its candidacy: “to protect the rights of the people to be informed of, participate in, express views about and oversee government affairs.”

In an open letter delivered to China’s permanent mission to the United Nations today, HRIC calls for the unconditional release of Cao Shunli (曹顺利), Guo Feixiong (郭飞雄), Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波), and Xu Zhiyong (许志永) as a first step that China can take to demonstrate its commitment to uphold the mandate of the Human Rights Council, that its members “shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.”

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Below is the full text of the letter, addressed to Ambassadors Liu Jieyi and Wang Min at the Chinese mission in New York.

November 5, 2013

Mr. Liu Jieyi
Ambassador
Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China
  to the United Nations
350 East 35th Street
New York, NY 10016

Mr. Wang Min
Ambassador
Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China
  to the United Nations
350 East 35th Street
New York, NY 10016

Dear Ambassadors Liu and Wang:

In advance of next week’s Human Rights Council elections, Human Rights in China (HRIC) wishes to share in a frank and constructive spirit our deep concerns about China’s candidacy. 

In creating the Human Rights Council, the United Nations General Assembly stated that its members “shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.” In a voluntary demonstration of its willingness to strive for this high standard, China vowed to “protect the rights of the people to be informed of, participate in, express views about and oversee government affairs.” 

However, individuals such as Cao Shunli, Guo Feixiong, Liu Xiaobo, and Xu Zhiyong—who have used peaceful and lawful means to exercise their rights—remain imprisoned or detained. This pattern of reprisals against citizens, including those seeking greater participation in China’s international human rights reporting, is wholly incompatible with the Council’s mandate and principles, and China’s own election pledges. These actions also raise serious concerns about China’s commitment to advancing the fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in the international human rights system. 

In the lead up to the Council elections, member states evaluating China’s bid for Council membership are not only reviewing China’s pledges but also watching its actions. As a Chinese organization, we want to see China as a responsible world leader. We therefore urge China to take this opportunity to adopt concrete confidence building measures. The most effective first step would be the unconditional release of the above-mentioned individuals.

As the Chinese saying goes, “good advice is harsh to the ear but beneficial to conduct” (忠言逆耳 利于行). So, we are encouraged by China’s recent expression of openness to “good-willed suggestions and even criticism.”

We would be happy to address any of your concerns or questions, and to provide any additional information that might be helpful.

Sincerely,

Sharon Hom
Executive Director
Human Rights in China

cc: Ambassador Liu Zhenmin
Ambassador Wu Haitao

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