China: The Persecution of Ni Yulan | Letter

Premier WEN Jiabao
The State Council General Office
2 Fuyoujie, Xichengqu,
Beijingshi 100017, People’s Republic of China
Fax: 011 86 10 6596 1109 (c/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Dear Mr. Premier:

Re: The Persecution of Ni Yulan

Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) promotes advocacy rights and the rule of law internationally through campaigns, research and education. LRWC has Special Consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

LRWC is frequently compelled to write to leaders of the Chinese Communist Party (“CCP”) seeking fairness and justice on behalf of human rights lawyers and other human rights defenders suffering under the illegal and brutal campaign of persecution which the CCP has been perpetrating against such advocates for many years.

Some of the worst crimes against the Chinese people by the CCP have been reserved for the most prominent of China’s human rights lawyers/advocates in recent years. Today we plead with you to intervene and terminate the vicious and appalling persecution of our colleague, Ms. Ni Yulan. Ni Yulan worked as a lawyer for 18 years. She took on many politically sensitive cases of petitioners and other people protesting the demolition of their homes for the benefit of developers working in partnership with Chinese state officials.

This is the third time Beijing police have held Ni Yulan for an extended period of time. In 2002, as Ni Yulan was filming the demolition of a Beijing home, authorities took her to a nearby police station and tortured her for several days, breaking her feet and her kneecaps. Her injuries were so severe that she remains in a wheel chair to this day, unable to walk. When Ni Yulan attempted to petition the authorities about the beatings, she was arrested, convicted of “obstructing official business,” and sentenced to one year in prison. When convicted, she also lost her professional licence to practice law. Her husband, Dong Jiqin was barred from attending her trial.

When Ni Yulan was released in 2003, she continued fighting for the rights of people whose homes faced demolition prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In 2008, just before the Olympics, Ni Yulan was arrested and imprisoned for two years after trying to stop the demolition of her own home. While in prison, she was tortured and suffered from other ill-treatment. She was also denied adequate medical care.

Upon her release from prison in April 2010, Ni Yulan and Dong Jiqin were homeless. They lived in a hotel before police forced them onto the street and blocked them from renting accommodation or even staying with friends. In June 2010, after dozens of supporters held a demonstration in solidarity with Ni Yulan and Dong Jiqin, police moved the couple into Beijing’s Yuxingong Guesthouse. However, the authorities continued to subject them to surveillance and other forms of harassment, including cutting off their water and electricity supply, as well as their Internet access.

On 27 July, a Beijing appeal “court” upheld her and her husband Dong Jiqin’s convictions and sentences under Article 293 of China’s Criminal Law. On April 10, 2012 Dong Jiqin had been sentenced to two years in prison and Ni Yulan to two years and six months for violating Article 293 of the Criminal Code. Article 293—a general “catchall” provision against “disturbing public order”—is invalid criminal law as it does not give notice of the prohibited behaviour that is sufficiently precise to enable citizens to regulate their conduct accordingly. The vagueness and over breadth of this provision denies citizens fair notice of the prohibited behaviour, and at the same time, allows for arbitrary arrests and convictions. This section of the Code is so devoid of precision that convictions automatically result from prosecutions.

Because of the vagueness of the wording in Article 293, it is impossible to know the nature of the allegations against Ms. Ni and her husband. It is however well known that Ms. Ni and her husband were peacefully engaged in activities protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. Their convictions and sentencing under the authority of Article 293 can only be considered arbitrary and illegitimate. Amnesty International has concluded that Ni Yulan and Dong Jiqin were charged and convicted because of Ni Yuan’s peaceful human rights and legal aid activities and considers them prisoners of conscience.

Ni Yulan and her husband are known as courageous, principled, and conscientious lawyers who have insisted on fulfilling their ethical obligations to their clients. They have been persecuted, tortured, and imprisoned in truth for no other reason than the fact that they have defended clients whom the CCP wanted to go undefended. Indeed, their “crime” has been that they have defended victims of illegal actions perpetrated by or condoned by the CCP.

We have received reports indicating that Ni Yulan has been malnourished in prison. Ni Yulan suffers from respiratory, heart and digestive problems, and cannot walk because of previous police torture. The couple’s daughter, who was able to attend the appeal hearing, is under police surveillance.

LRWC calls upon you to:
• Ensure that the CCP immediately and unconditionally releases Ni Yulan and Dong Jiqin; and,
• guarantee that these human rights advocates are no longer tortured or otherwise ill-treated pending
their release; and,
• Ensure that these advocates be allowed communications with their families, legal representation of their choice (not lawyers appointed for them by the CCP or the Chinese “courts”), and that they receive prompt and effective medical attention and care.

Premier Wen, you are now considered by some students of China to be “the conscience of the CCP”. This is because of internal remarks recently attributed to you in the wake of the revelations surrounding Bo Xilai, Zhou Yongkang, and Wang Lijun. Because you are said to have confronted those responsible for the removal of organs from healthy and unwilling “donors”, without anaesthetic, we look to you to also demand that the CCP respect Chinese law and bring a closure to the mass persecution of human rights lawyers which has continued unabated for so many years.

Redress for the torture and illegal imprisonment of Ni Yulan and her husband would constitute an excellent starting point.

Yours truly

Clive Ansley

cc: Zhang Junsai, Chinese Ambassador
515 St. Patrick Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 5H3
Fax: (613) 789-1911; Email: