China bars activist's daughter

2012-01-31 13:47
Beijing - The daughter of disabled activist Ni Yulan said on Tuesday 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 was not allowed to go to the Hague to accept the $131 000 Human Rights Defenders Tulip award, an embassy spokesperson said.

"I tried to leave Beijing on Wednesday [January 25], but police grabbed me at the airport and said I could not go," Dong said by phone.

"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."

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

Ni and her husband Dong Jiqin were tried by a Beijing court in late December for "provoking trouble", but no verdict has yet been reached.

Thorn

The two - who have long helped victims of land grabs - were detained in April 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", organisers said on their website.

The award ceremony is due to take place on Tuesday in the Hague.

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

Large following

She was sentenced to a year in jail in 2002 for "obstructing official business" and for 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 grabs - one of the nation's most explosive social issues.

A spokesperson 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 United States and the European Union, which sent representatives to meet with her during her brief period of freedom in 2010.

Read more on:    china  |  human rights

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