China: Unlawful detention and treatment of Ni Yulan and Dong Jiqin | Letter

Re: Unlawful detention and treatment of Ni Yulan and Dong Jiqin

To: Hu Jintao et al

From: Jessica Fletcher & Gail Davidson

Date: 2011-04-21

LRWC is alarmed at the treatment of Housing Rights activist Ni Yulan and her husband Dong Jiqin, both detained since 7 April 2011. A formal notice of detention was not issued until a week after Ni Yulan was arrested, on a charge of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” Two days later a similar notice was issued for Dong Jiqin. The right to adequate housing is guaranteed by the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article 11), which China has signed and ratified. Advocacy for these rights is therefore a right and responsibility of all citizens and a protected activity.

LRWC has concluded, on review of the information available, that the detention, treatment and harassment of Ni Yulan and Dong Jiqin are politically motivated to prevent and punish their legitmate work promoting and defending housing rights. Actions of the Chinese governments are wholly illegal under both domestic law and international law binding on China.

LRWC notes with concern that this is the third time since 2002 that Ni Yulan has been detained for a significant length of time. Each time, she has suffered severe physical and mental abuse at the hands of Chinese authorities; Ni Yulan remains in a wheel chair after having her knees and feet broken by agents of the Government of China—the police—nine years ago. When she attempted to complain about the beatings she received, Ni Yulan was arrested for “obstructing official business,” and sentenced to one year in prison.

The Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, Article 35 protects the rights of Ni Yulan, Dong Jiqin and other citizens to freedom of speech and freedom of demonstration. Article 41 ensures the right of Chinese citizens “to criticize and make suggestions to any state organ or functionary”, and “to make complaints and charges against, or exposures of, violation of the law or dereliction of duty by any state organ or functionary.” It also prohibits anyone from suppressing such complaints or retaliating against the citizens making them. Article 37 of the Constitution states that the liberty of Chinese citizens is inviolable, and that no citizen may be unlawfully arrested or deprived of their freedom.

The Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China, Article 293(4) mandates that a crime is only committed where an individual creates a disturbance in a public place which causes serious disorder. Evidence indicates that actions of Ni Yulan and Dong Jiqin not only failed to meet this high threshold, but did not and could not, have caused or contributed to any disorder. Clearly Ni Yulan and Dong Jiqin are being persecuted for peacefully exercising rights protected by domestic and international law.

The Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, Articles1 and 6 ensure that Ni Yulan, Dong Jiqin and other human rights defenders have both the right and the responsibility to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels. This includes the right and responsibility to draw public attention to situations, as occurred in this case, in which the government is or appears to be failing or refusing to adhere to legal human rights obligations Articles1 and 6 affirm the duty of states—in this case the Government of China—to ensure the effective personal and professional safety and security of people engaged in human rights advocacy.

China is obliged both by domestic law and by international law binding on China to:

1. protect universal standards of freedom of expression as per China’s constitution and the international human rights conventions ratified by China; and,

2. ensure that Chinese authorities respect and ensure the protection of Ni Yulan and Dong Jiqin and all human rights defenders to engage in human rights advocacy; and,

3. adhere strictly to the prohibitions against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, arbitrary detention and arbitrary arrest contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Articles 5 and 9) and other instruments.

LRWC calls on your government to immediately take actions to ensure:

1. the release Ni Yulan and Dong Jiqin immediately and unconditionally; and,

2. that the torture and other prohibited treatment of Ni Yulan and Dong Jiqin cease immediately; and,

3. investigations be conducted to identify and punish the perpetrators; and,

4. that compensation is paid to Ni Yulan and Dong Jiqin that adequately compensates them for the grievous injuries, indignities, loss of liberty and violation of internationally protected rights they have suffered at the hands of agents of the Government of China; and,

5. that a public statement is issued officially condemning the arbitrary detention and mal treatment of Ni Yulan and Dong Jiqin.

LRWC calls on the Government of China to also ensure that Ni Yulan and Dong Jiqin have immediate access to their families, legal representation of their choice, and any medical care they may require.