Politics & Protest SinoBeat

Wife of human rights activist says she was beaten in Beijing police custody after peaceful protest

A protester said she was beaten while in police custody following the release of eight people detained after a peaceful demonstration in Beijing.

Liu Ermin was protesting in support of her husband Zhai Yanmin, one of the human rights activists detained in last year’s “709 crackdown” on human rights lawyers. She was beaten by police in the capital after being taken from a police station in Tianjin early Tuesday morning, said the China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group.

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Liu Ermin (middle) was reportedly beaten in police custody. Photo: CHRLCG Facebook page.

Liu told HKFP that she was beaten by four male officers and one female officer, leaving her with bruises on her chest and arms. “They kept pushing me so that I fell down,” she said. She added that the officers also pushed her against a door frame multiple times in a beating that lasted about five minutes. At one point, she lost consciousness and was unable to respond for ten to twenty minutes, Liu claimed.

“I’m a 50-something year-old woman. How could I stand it?”

According to Liu, the police had already been monitoring her before she went to Tianjin, not allowing her leave her house. After they brought her back to a station in Beijing, the police started yelling at her and asking her repeatedly what she was doing in Tianjin.

Liu and the other wives and legal representatives of detained Chinese human rights lawyers, along with their photographer, were detained for about 24 hours after standing outside the Guasiji police station in Tianjin holding red buckets expressing support for the detained lawyers on Monday.

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Liu Ermin (second from right) was reportedly beaten in police custody. Photo: CHRLCG Facebook page.

A statement on CHRLCG’s Facebook page condemning the Tianjin police for abusing their power in the detention of the demonstrators was signed by over 50 lawyers across China.

“[The actions of police] are classic illegal detention, insult, and obstruction of litigation,” it said of the detention of the protesters and the treatment of Liu.

“The detention, right at the beginning, was arbitrary, because they were…just peacefully holding buckets, expressing support for their husbands,” said Kit Chan from the CHRLCG.

Phrases like “Heping I support you” and “Old Di I love you and I’m waiting for you” were written on the buckets.

The “709 crackdown” refers to last year’s mass crackdown on lawyers and activists working to defend human rights. In less than a week, starting on July 9, 2015, Chinese authorities disappeared, detained, or questioned at least 159 lawyers and activists, according to NGO Human Rights in China.

Correction 9/6: A previous version of this article stated that Zhai was a human rights lawyer. He is, in fact, a human rights activist.

Wife of human rights activist says she was beaten in Beijing police custody after peaceful protest