Five weeks after Beijing-based activist Cao Shunli was taken away from Beijing International Airport en route to Geneva to take part in human rights training, the Chaoyang District Detention Center confirmed her criminal detention on charges of "unlawful assembly" on Oct. 21. Rights groups say Cao, 52, was the target of official retaliation for trying to take part in the recent review of Beijing's rights record by the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Her lawyer Wang Yu spoke to RFA's Mandarin Service about Cao's treatment in the detention center:
"They didn't get her a doctor [for her liver disease], and they didn't give her any medication. She had a certain amount of medication in her suitcase for traveling overseas with, but they wouldn't let her have it. She is quite seriously ill, and she has gotten extremely thin."
"Originally I had planned to take photos of her, but she thought she looked too frail, and that if I took them, her family would be worried about her, so she wouldn't let me take them."
"I went to the Chaoyang district police department on Thursday, hoping to meet with the person in charge of her case, because she has applied to be released on bail. But they said the person in charge wasn't there. I thought they were making excuses."
"I have also applied for her to be released on medical parole."
Wang said the charges against Cao didn't stand up:
"At the time that she was crossing the border, she committed no criminal acts. [Her protest outside the foreign ministry to be allowed to contribute to the U.N. rights review] was entirely in keeping with our country's Constitution. They were the normal activities of a citizen. She shouldn't have been locked up for this reason."
Fellow activist Liu Xiaofang said she believed Cao's detention was directly linked to the protest outside the foreign ministry shortly before her departure:
"I think it's mainly because of this, because it makes no sense that she should be taken away at the airport. This just proves that there are no human rights in China."
Reported by An Pei for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.