On Tuesday, October 22, when China’s human rights record was reviewed by the UN, sadly, none of the democracies spoke out for imprisoned Nobel Peace Laureate Lui Xiaobo, who remains in prison since 2008, solely on his political views. Only one country –Canada– spoke out against China’s imprisonment of political dissidents and recommended China to release all political prisoners.
Amidst the wide praise of China’s record, it is disappointing that the name of Lui Xiaobo was not mentioned during the three and a half hour session. Lui Xiaobo, a professor and human rights activist, has called for political reform and an end to single-party rule. Democracies wasted a unique opportunity to put a spotlight on China’s oppression of dissent and make concrete recommendations that could have an impact.
China presented a 30-page report on its human rights record, which was followed by a three-hour “interactive dialogue,” with over 130 delegations making statements and Chinese delegates periodically responding. The exercise is known as the “Universal Periodic Review” (UPR), which examines every UN member state once every four and a half years.