China has dismissed as “irresponsible” comments by the United Nations rights commissioner over detentions of rights activists made by the government in Beijing.
In a Wednesday statement, China’s mission to the UN in Geneva rejected claims by Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, that some people arrested since July 2015 in the country were lawyers and activists. Beijing says they were involved in criminal activities.
“All those cases raised (by Zeid) involve illegal and criminal activities, and have nothing to do with restrictions of the rights and freedoms,” said the statement, adding, “The High Commissioner made irresponsible comments in disregard of facts.”
Zeid on Tuesday expressed concern that China is appearing to be locking up government critics, saying an estimated 250 of such people have been detained in an intensified crackdown over the past months.
The UN official specifically referred to the arrests of two prominent rights lawyers, Li Heping and Wang Yu, who were among a group of 15 lawyers arrested in July.
However, China’s Wednesday statement dismissed that the two were lawyers, saying they were using a Beijing law firm as a front to organize criminal activity.
It also reacted to Zeid’s criticism of prosecutions against employees of Hong Kong publishing house, saying the legal cases filed against Mighty Current was consistent with China’s criminal law.
The statement also defended the arrest and subsequent expulsion of Swedish national, Peter Dahlin, saying he was involved in activities that endangered the national security of China. It elaborated by saying that the Swede was distributing misleading and distorted information about China’s rights record to the international community.
Beijing also accused the UN rights chief of having a “biased, subjective and selective” view of the China, saying the country “is ruled by law and everyone is equal before the law.”