Human rights activist Cao Shunli, who was detained in September for organizing sit-ins in front of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is experiencing organ failure and reportedly has only a few days to live after being denied medical treatment, a close friend of the dissident told Reuters on Saturday.
News of Cao’s deteriorating health comes two days before the start of a session in Geneva of the U.N. Human Rights Council, a body to which China was elected with controversy last November.
“Yesterday at 10 am, the hospital informed the family members to rush to the hospital and said the condition is terminal,” Liu Xiaofang, a close friend of Cao, told Reuters.
Liu also went to the hospital and spoke with a doctor surnamed Su who was treating Cao.
“He stressed one point: that Cao Shunli’s situation is extremely bad and was caused by her long time in detention. He’s extremely dissatisfied with the situation and told the police: this is a person’s life, you can’t treat this as a game.”
Cao was stopped by public security officers at the Beijing Capital International Airport on September 14 as she was on her way to Geneva, Switzerland to attend a human rights training program. Amnesty reports that Cao was taken away for interrogation and went missing for a period of time.
Cao’s lawyer, Wang Yu, told Human Rights in China last month that she suffered from tuberculosis, liver disease and various other conditions, but medical parole had been denied until she was seriously ill.
Wang also told Reuters that Cao’s younger brother planned to sue the Chaoyang District Detention Center in Beijing for “criminal acts” after it reused to give her medical treatment.
Liu Xia, the wife of jailed dissident and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, is another activist who’s recently been admitted to a hospital after being refused overseas help.
Liu Xia, who was placed under house arrest in 2010, suffers heart problems and other ailments, and according to close friends, her health has deteriorated considerably during her time under guard.
Chen Kegui, the nephew of activist Chen Guangcheng, was likewise denied urgent medical care in May of last year while serving a three year sentence for attacking a government official who entered his home to search his uncle, who escaped from illegal house arrest.
In the context of China’s human rights policy, Human Rights Watch’s Sophie Richardson wrote in a Wall Street Journal report:
As these people fight for their lives and their rights, Chinese officials are preparing to deliver in mid-March their “outcome report” to the Human Rights Council. They are unlikely to adopt any of the major recommendations put to them in their 2009 review. They will no doubt try to deflect criticism by pointing to recent semi-reforms to the system of reeducation through labor, to some aspects of the one-child policy, and to the implementation of criminal justice.
[Image via Human Rights in China]