March 20, 2014
China was unsuccessful in blocking efforts by the International Campaign for Tibet and other non-governmental organizations to condemn the harassment meted out to human rights defenders both inside the UN Human Rights Council Geneva and in China. In dramatic exchanges and parliamentary procedural manoeuvres rarely seen in the Council, Member states and NGOs sought a minute of silence for Cao Shunli, a Chinese human rights defender who was prevented by the government from participating in China’s rights review, and then died after being denied medical treatment in detention.
As the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) delivered an oral statement at the council, critical of China’s report which its two member organisations ICT and Human Rights in China (HRiC) joined, the Chinese delegation interrupted the presenter by raising a point of order. The Chinese asked the President of the Council “to abolish the status of the speaker [FIDH] to speak” because the other two organisations did not have consultative status. The UN secretariat ruled against the Chinese, citing a long practice where NGOs accredited to ECOSOC could “mention other entitities.” FIDH was allowed to continue with the statement.