Chinese activists & scholars petition against China inclusion on UN Human Rights Council

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China disabled human rights Ms. Ni Yulan
While disabled Chinese human rights activist Ms. Ni Yulan’s case for defending the rights of those who are losing land in corporate land grabs inside China was recently commuted, her husband however is still living under incarceration in a Chinese prison. The human rights record for China on citizens who ‘speak out’ is filled with troublesome and abuse-filled events, say today’s advocates. Image: Wikipedia

(WNN) Shanghai, PEOPLES REPUBLIC OF CHINA, EASTERN ASIA: The HRIC – Human Rights in China organization, which began in 1989 under the dedicated work of Chinese students and scholars, just announced the release of a petition urging the United Nations to move swiftly to prevent China from being elected to the UN Human Rights Council.

As a respected global organization honored by Open Society, HRIC is working tirelessly to amplify voices of Chinese citizens and groups seeking human rights in the region.

The UN Human Rights Council has 47 member nations with a specific goal: to be “responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them.”

Seeing that this goal is in direct conflict with recent and ongoing human rights abuses in China, especially China’s recent denial of religious and cultural rights for native Tibetans living in China’s southern region, as well as the current treatment of human rights defenders detained in Chinese prisons, the HRIC is pleading that correct policy be made inside the UN.

The Human Rights Council was created in 2006 after a crumbling of the UN Human Rights Commission was re-ignited and reformed with a new name to stand for mechanisms that would strongly uphold global freedom and human rights.

“Emphasizing the responsibilities of all States…to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind as to race, colour, sex, language or religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status…” the newly revived United Nations body also agreed with “…Acknowledging that peace and security, development and human rights are the pillars of the United Nations system…”

Today the original promises and goals of the newer UN Human Rights Council appear to be clouded by political wrangling inside the UN, say women advocates who are working for reform at the UN.

Human Rights in China petition signatures
Petition signatures included in the letter to the UN Human Rights Council asking that China not be allowed to take a seat on the Council that is supposed to be dedicated to upholding human rights worldwide. Image: HRIC

This isn’t the first time a UN body has had trouble with politics inside its own ranks. In September 2010, the UN Commission on the Status of Women also moved to allow Iran to join its ranks, even as Iranian women activists and human rights organizations urged the UN to stop any possible corruption of the Commission. In 2010 the United Nations had reports on human rights abuse and lack of freedom in the region when Iran was given an inside seat on the Commission on the Status of Women, including Iran’s treatment of Dr. Shirin Ebadi a Nobel Peace Prize recipient.

“On 21 December 2009, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders expressed concern over reports of harassment and intimidation of family members of Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi and also over the reports of confiscation from her safe-deposit box in a bank in Tehran of her Nobel Peace Prize medal and accompanying diploma, her Order of the Legion d’Honneur award and a ring given to her by the German Association of Journalists,” outlined a September 2010 report to the UN Secretary General during a session at the UN General Assembly.

Trying to block the adoption of China to the Human Rights Council, 218 rights defenders in Shanghai signed the public appeal asking the UN to uphold its original goals, as worry among human rights advocates inside and outside of China is currently growing. The HRIC appeal is part of a global request for the UN to ‘tread carefully’.

Upcoming elections in 2013 for 5 new country members of the Human Rights Council, who will be joining up as other country members drop off, will occur on November 12 by vote of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Other nation candidates that are also vying for seats in the UN Human Rights Council include Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Jordan and Vietnam, some who have their own issues of human rights abuse.

Along with other nations, China was part of the recent UN Universal Periodic Review at the UN in Geneva. But while continuing to sanction members of its own society who speak out on human rights abuse, China continues to speak of democracy and improvements, “To continue to strengthen the development of democracy and the rule of law [and] push forward the reform of the judicial system.”


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