China: CSW protests at China's rejection of UN human rights recommendations

Gao Zhisheng

Gao Zhisheng

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has voiced concerns over China’s rejection of  the UN Human Rights Council’s recommendations to improve human rights. CSW has also demanded information about a missing lawyer  who defended Christians, Gao Zhisheng and a bookstore owner who sold Bibles, Shi Weihan, who has been sentenced to three years in prison. 

The outcome of China’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the Human Rights Council has just been made public. China announced that it had “rejected, without a single exception, every recommendation made during the process that pertained to freedom of expression and freedom of association, independence of the judiciary, protection of human rights defenders, rights of ethnic minorities, reduction of the death penalty, prohibition of torture, media freedom and effective remedies for discrimination.”

Human rights lawyer, Gao Zhisheng, who worked to defend house church leaders from persecution, is still missing. Gao was last seen being hauled away by Chinese officials on 4 February 2009. The Chinese Ambassador to the United States, Zhou Wenzhong, issued a statement saying that Gao is “currently serving probation”. Since 2005, Gao has been repeatedly arrested, tortured and imprisoned.

 According to China Aid, bookstore owner Shi Weihan has been sentenced by the Beijing court to three years in prison and fined 150,000 RMB (US$21,795) for “illegal business operations”, involving printing and distributing Bibles at no cost. Shi’s family are concerned about his serious diabetic condition and requests for medical parole have been refused.
In a major crackdown earlier this month the licences of at least 21 human rights lawyers have been cancelled or had their renewals refused. Many of these lawyers, like Gao, have worked to defend religious freedom cases.
 CSW’s Advocacy Director, Tina Lambert said: ”CSW calls for the immediate release of Gao Zhisheng and Shi Weihan, and urges China to accept the recommendations made by the UN Human Rights Council. We believe China’s economic liberalisation over the past thirty years should be matched by improvements in human rights and religious freedom. We encourage China to build on the progress already made, and to uphold fundamental universal human rights as set out by the United Nations.”

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