As we told you last week, Christian Pastor John Cao – a U.S. permanent resident from North Carolina – just marked a sad anniversary: his third year as a prisoner in China.
We appeared before the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) urging the world’s leaders to take action to set him free.
Pastor Cao devoted his life to serving the poor in China and Burma (Myanmar) without incident. He arranged for them to receive necessary supplies, and built schools to provide desperately-needed education in the hopes to improve the lives of the impoverished.
But now he languishes in a Chinese prison, as part of a 7-year sentence for his Christian faith, while the new threat of the Coronavirus puts his already compromised health at risk.
To date, Pastor Cao has been a prisoner in China for over 1,100 days simply because he is a Christian.
We refuse to accept this unjust sentence. That’s why we just delivered a critical oral intervention to the HRC through our European affiliate office, the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), on Pastor Cao’s behalf – one day after the third anniversary of his arrest.
Our intervention reminded the HRC of the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s finding that Pastor Cao’s arrest was unlawful, targeting him for being a Christian, and that he should be released immediately.
As we stated:
Yesterday marked the 3rd anniversary of Pastor John Cao’s unlawful imprisonment in China.
Pastor Cao, a United States lawful permanent resident who has faithfully served the people of China as a missionary for over two decades. Pastor Cao conducted his commendable humanitarian work openly and without incident until March of 2017 when Pastor Cao was unexpectedly targeted, arrested, convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison.
Last year, the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention adopted Opinion 35/2019 (China) regarding Pastor Cao’s unlawful detention. They found in favor of Pastor Cao, noting among other things, that “his arrest was carried out in a manner that singled out Mr. Cao on the basis of his religion,” and was a clear violation of articles 7 and 19 of the UDHR. Further stating that “the appropriate remedy would be to release Mr. Cao immediately and accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law.”
To date, Pastor Cao remains in Kunming prison.
His family is greatly burdened for him as the spread of the Coronavirus continues throughout prisons in China.
Pastor Cao is an innocent man who was selflessly working to make a better world. This Council should respectfully and firmly back the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s August decision, remind China of its continued obligations under the UDHR, and request that Pastor Cao be immediately released from his unlawful imprisonment.
As a U.N. charter member, China must acknowledge and respect the decision of the U.N. Working Group, and let Pastor Cao go.
The dangers to Pastor Cao’s health and well-being were great enough being locked up, far away from his family. But this new threat of the Coronavirus infesting the Chinese prison system only makes its more urgent that China be pressured to release Pastor Cao, and all Christian prisoners being held captive for their faith, at once.
The ACLJ will continue to fight on behalf of Pastor John Cao, until he freed and allowed to return home safely to be with his family in America.
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