China Court Jails Disabled Activist and Husband
Beijing. A Chinese court sentenced disabled activist Ni Yulan and her husband to jail on Tuesday, a year after the couple were detained amid growing unrest in China.
Ni was given a sentence of two years and eight months, and her husband Dong Jiqin two years, on charges of “picking quarrels, provoking trouble and wilfully destroying private and public property,” a court spokesman said.
Ni and Dong, who have long helped victims of government-backed land grabs in China, were detained in April last year as authorities rounded up scores of activists amid online calls for protests similar to those in the Arab world.
They were tried in December in a four-hour hearing that was closed to the press and foreign diplomats who tried to enter the courthouse in western Beijing. Their lawyers say the charges were trumped up to silence them.
Ni spent much of the trial lying on a bed in the courtroom due to her poor health. She remains ill and is suffering from fever, a swollen neck and has trouble speaking.
Trained as a lawyer, Ni, 51, 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.
Amnesty International has said her knee caps and feet were broken when she was detained in 2002, and she has been confined to a wheelchair ever since.
She was also disbarred in 2002.
Her 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.
In January, police barred Ni’s daughter Dong Xuan from leaving China to collect a 100,000-euro ($131,000) human rights award for her mother in the Netherlands.