Chinese police prevented diplomats from France, Germany, Canada and Switzerland as well as a representative from the European Union from visiting Chinese civil rights lawyer Ni Yulan on Saturday. Ni told the Associated Press that she had been prevented from leaving her home since April 13.
The diplomats were only able to pass food to Ni’s husband, who brought it back to Ni, according to the civil rights lawyer herself.
In a quote attributed to her, Ni is reported to have said: “I have been house arrested by the Beijing Xicheng police branch for ten days! Today at 3pm, five diplomats came to the Xicheng area…to see me and were barred by a group of plainclothes police. [My husband] already went outside to welcome the diplomats, but the plainclothes refused to let the diplomats into my home and said that we were living here illegally. We spend a high amount renting a place, how come it is illegal?”
The Associated Press also reported that the German Embassy in Beijing confirmed that the German diplomats, along with other diplomats were unsuccessful in visiting Ni.
‘Harassment and persecution’
Patrick Poon, a researcher at Amnesty International, said that while it is common for diplomats to be blocked from visiting human rights lawyers and activists in China: “After the US [gave] the award to Ni, Ni and her husband have been harassed for a number of times. They were forced out of their rented home in Beijing and Ni’s husband was even beaten up outside their home.” Diplomats could still visit Ni in the past, he said.
“Ni is a strong advocate for human rights of other detained activists and petitioners even after experiencing a lot of harassment and persecution herself. We call on the international community and governments to continue to put pressure on the Chinese government to stop harassing her and her family,” said Poon.
Ni was previously prevented from going to America to receive a human rights award honouring her for her work helping families facing eviction by the Chinese government. She was one of 14 women selected to receive the International Women of Courage awards, which seek to recognise women around the globe for their leadership in working for justice, human rights, democracy, gender equality and women’s empowerment. The lawyer said that the government had frozen her passport to prevent her from travelling.
According to the US-backed Voice of America, Ni was forced out of her home on March 26, shortly before she was to travel to the US to accept the award.