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Lawyer provided latest updates on Cao Shunli’s case and demanded investigation into the rights defender’s suspicious death

Press Release

Teng Biao (Visiting Scholar at Chinese University of Hong Kong, former defense lawyer of Cao Shunli)

Cao Shunli was taken away at Beijing Capital International Airport when she was on her way to Gevena for the Universal Periodic Review on China on 14th September 2013. Her friends and family had only learnt that Cao was detained at Chaoyang District Detention Centre for alleged 'illegal assembly' after she disappeared for a month. On 21st October 2013, her charge was changed to alleged 'picking quarrels and provoking trouble'.

During her detention at Chaoyang District Detention Centre, Cao's health deteriorated rapidly. Cao and her lawyer had made numerous requests for taking her own medicine and getting medical treatment. However, the detention centre and the public security bureau had forbidden her to take medicine and had refused to provide any treatment. Applications for medical parole submitted by Cao's family and lawyer were all rejected. On 19th Feb 2014, Cao was sent to Beijing 999 Emergency Centre after falling into a coma. She was later transferred to Beijing 309 Hospital. She was in critical condition. She passed away on 14th March 2014.

The death of Cao Shunli caused great outcry in China and grave concern from the international community. The tragedy of Cao Shunli is yet another example of China suppressing and retaliating human rights defenders. Germany, United States, United Kingdom, Canada, European Union, as well as international organizations such as United Nations Special Rapporteur, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have issued statement condemning Chinese Government.

Cao Shunli’s former defense lawyer Teng Biao gave updates on Cao’s case, the situation of Cao’s family, as well as plans for seeking justice. The lawyer also demanded:

1.    the Chinese government to establish an independent investigation to  investigate the cause of Cao Shunli’s death. Chaoyang Detention Centre, Beijing Public Security Bureau as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should avoid getting involved in the investigation duties;

2.    the Chinese government to hold those who persecuted Cao and who subsequently caused her death criminally accountable

3.    the Chinese government to take concrete measures to comply with the United Nations guidelines for the protection of basic human rights defenders ;

4.    the civil society to mark 14th March as ‘China Human Rights Defenders Day’

5.    the United Nations to send condolences for the death of Cao Shunli, which was a result of the government’s retaliation against her participation in the international human rights mechanism.