Crippled Chinese Lawyer and Her Husband Sentenced to Prison

Ni Yulan, a Chinese human rights lawyer, was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison, and her husband Dong Jiqin was sentenced to two years in prison on April 10 after both were accused of “causing a disturbance” and “fraud.” The charges are likely related to their work helping petitioners and victims of land confiscation and religious persecution.  Freedom House condemns this unjust and inhumane sentence by the Chinese government and calls for Ni Yulan and Dong Jiqin’s immediate release.

The couple took up the cause of land rights after their own home in Beijing was requisitioned and demolished by the government. They were taken into custody in April 2011 as part of a crackdown that followed online calls for a “Jasmine Revolution,” and indicted on trumped up charges of insulting staff at their residence, the  Yuxinyuan Guest House, and tearing up the registration book. The couple moved there after police interfered with their efforts to rent other accommodations in Beijing. In early 2011, police shut off their electricity and water for several weeks, trying to pressure the couple to leave the city, thereby weakening their influence.  This is the third time that Ni Yulan has been imprisoned for her work. She was convicted in 2002 and 2008. In 2002, she was severely injured and left permanently crippled after police subjected her to 50 hours of torture.

China is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2012. With a sensitive change of leadership approaching in late 2012, the ruling Chinese Communist Party has shown no signs of loosening its grip on power and has stalled reforms related to rule of law. Throughout 2011, dozens of bloggers, activists, and human rights lawyers were forcibly disappeared, and several have since been sentenced to long prison terms. In 2011, thousands of demonstrations took place protesting land confiscation, corruption, pollution, and fatal police beatings.

Learn more:

Freedom in the World 2011: China
Freedom of the Press 2011: China
Freedom on the Net 2011: China
China Media Bulletin
Freedom at Issue Blog