- For defenders
- How can I help?
While China postures on the international stage, women human rights defenders are routinely targeted
Mary Lawlor is the Executive Director at Front Line Defenders.
On 27 September China will co-host with UN Women a “Global Leader's Meeting on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment” in New York. Chinese President Xi Jinping will address the gathering, as will Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon. The event will mark 20 years since the Beijing Declaration and is intended to place 'gender equality, women's rights and women's empowerment at the centre of the global agenda'.
The titans of international finance have decreed that China's economic bubble was bound to burst because of unrealistic inflation of share values and property prices coupled with declining exports. Let's see if global gurus can also decipher that it is the very autocratic system they have venerated which is unsustainable.
Andrew Anderson is the Deputy Director at Front Line Defenders. This blog was originally published in The Irish Times on Sunday, 7 June 2015.
The Chinese leadership emphasises the importance of the rule of law while simultaneously subjecting those defending it to outrageous abuses. In the past six months lawyers have been assaulted outside courthouses by mobs and inside courthouses by state officials, all part of a concerted crackdown on human rights defenders.
When I arrived at the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women (FWCW) in Beijing, Chinese authorities welcomed hundreds of foreign dignitaries and international rights groups with rainbow coloured scarves. Yet, while China hosted what would come to be known as the pre-eminent gathering on gender equality for the next twenty years, the government was also systematically disempowering Tibetan women through its repressive policies towards the Tibetan Autonomous Region. At the opening of the conference in 1995, in protest against China's silencing of Tibetan women's voices, a delegation of exiled Tibetan women gagged themselves with the silk.
Throughout the conference, Chinese security officers filmed, photographed, and followed the Tibetan women. On the third day, the activists lead a workshop on "Women and Development in Tibet," which so angered the crowd that a counter-protest erupted. My self and colleague Frank Jennings – later known to the Chinese authorities as “Black Hand” for his outspoken work in support of women rights defenders in China – tried to act as human shields while Chinese men shouted and pushed Tibetan women to the floor.
14 March, marks a year to the day since Chinese human rights defender Cao Shunli died in custody in Beijing.
Cao Shunli was detained in Beijing in September 2013 as she attempted to travel to Geneva to participate in a training on UN human rights mechanisms. In the 52 weeks which have passed since her death, not one Chinese official has been publicly held accountable for her arrest, her treatment in detention, or the continued refusal by state security agents to allow her to receive medical attention despite her rapidly worsening health.