Wed, Feb 01, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Chinese activist’s daughter barred from taking prize

AFP, Beijing

The daughter of disabled activist Ni Yulan (倪玉蘭) yesterday said police grabbed her at the airport in Beijing and barred her from leaving China to collect a rights award for her mother in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands had asked China to explain why Ni’s daughter, Dong Xuan (董璇), was not allowed to go to the Hague to accept the 100,000 euro (US$131,000) Human Rights Defenders Tulip award, an embassy spokesman said.

“I tried to leave Beijing on Wednesday [Jan. 25], but police grabbed me at the airport and said I could not go,” Dong said.

“Ever since, there has been a policeman following me. He even tries to stop me from going out into the street to walk around. On Sunday, the police came and searched my house,” she said by telephone.

The Chinese Ministry of Public Security was not immediately available for comment.

Ni and her husband, Dong Jiqin (董繼勤), were tried by a Beijing court in late December for “provoking trouble,” but no verdict has yet been reached.

The two, who have long helped victims of land seizures, were detained in April last year as authorities rounded up scores of activists amid anonymous online calls for protests similar to those that swept across the Arab world.

Ni was awarded the Dutch government’s prize “in recognition for her work on behalf of citizens of Beijing whose houses were confiscated and demolished in the run-up to the 2008 Olympic Games,” organizers said on their Web site.

The award ceremony was due to take place in the Hague yesterday.

Ni — a disabled lawyer — has long been a thorn in the side of authority.

She was sentenced to a year in jail in 2002 for “obstructing official business” and to two years in 2008 for “harming public property” — charges brought against her as she tried to protect her home from demolition.

Ni has a large following of supporters throughout China, many of whom have been evicted from their homes in government-backed land seizures.

A spokesman for the Dutch embassy in China said that “Minister of Foreign Affairs [Uri] Rosenthal has requested an explanation from the Chinese authorities and pleaded for the daughter’s case to travel to the Netherlands.”

Ni’s case has been championed by numerous Western governments, including the US and the EU, which sent representatives to meet with her during her brief period of freedom in 2010.

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