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Former Lawyer, Handicapped from Torture, Ni Yulan, is Criminally Detained for “creating a disturbance”

Posted by Author on April 18, 2011

Housing rights activist and former lawyer Ni Yulan (倪玉兰) has been criminally detained in Beijing for “creating a disturbance,” CHRD learned today. No information is currently available regarding the fate of her husband Dong Jiqin (董继勤), who was seized by police along with Ni on April 7. CHRD has now documented the criminal detention of 38 dissidents and activists as part of the current crackdown, launched by the government to suppress potential “Jasmine Revolution” protests. Another 16 individuals, including Dong, remain missing after being taken away by police. Some, such as human rights lawyers Jiang Tianyong (江天勇) and Teng Biao (滕彪), as well as activist and IT expert Gu Chuan (古川), have now been missing for nearly two months.

“Detaining Ni Yulan, who has been left wheelchair-bound by torture while previously detained, for ‘creating a disturbance’ shows how little regard the Chinese government has for its own laws or for international human rights norms,” said Renee Xia, CHRD’s International Director. “It also demonstrates how little pressure the Chinese government has felt from the international community during this ongoing crackdown.
This is the third occasion on which Ni has been detained for an extended period of time by Beijing police, and her family has raised serious concerns about her health. As the result of repeated episodes of torture over the past decade, Ni cannot walk and suffers from an assortment of chronic medical issues including difficulty breathing, heart problems, and digestive trouble. During her most recent period of detention and imprisonment, from 2008-2010, Ni was beaten, subjected to cruel and inhumane punishment, and denied proper medical attention.

The Xicheng branch of the Beijing Public Security Bureau issued a formal notice regarding Ni’s detention. Individuals convicted of “creating a disturbance,” which is described in Article 293 of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China, can be sentenced to up to five years in prison.

Of the 38 criminal detentions documented by CHRD to date, ten individuals have been accused of “creating a disturbance.” Of those, four have been released on bail to await trial, one was sent to two years of Re-education through Labor, and the other five remain in detention. The charge has been used to detain individuals ranging from longtime activists, such as Ni and Wang Lihong (王荔蕻), to performance artists Huang Xiang (黄香), Zhui Hun (追魂), and Cheng Li (成力), who were seized after putting on a jasmine-themed exhibition in Beijing.

The criminal detention of Ni and the disappearance of her husband come after months of police harassment. Rendered homeless by a forced demolition while Ni was imprisoned in 2008, the couple was living on the streets before international pressure forced authorities to allow them to move into Beijing’s Yuxingong Guesthouse in the summer of 2010. Since then, however, they have been subjected to surveillance and disruptions in their electricity, water, and internet services by local officials seeking to force them out.

The UN independent experts on the situation of human rights defenders, on torture, and on arbitrary detention have sent communiqués to the Chinese government inquiring about the treatment of Ni Yulan in the past.  We ask these UN experts to continue pressuring the Chinese authorities for her release.

We also ask representatives of the democratic member states on the UN Human Rights Council to inquire into and investigate allegations regarding the Chinese government’s abuses of human rights related to the detention and disappearance of numerous individuals during the current crackdown. Representatives of the US and EU should publicly raise these issues and condemn the Chinese government’s violations of human rights norms as well as the Chinese law during upcoming human rights dialogues with China.

Chinese Human Rights Defenders, April 14, 2011

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