By Qiao Long, Radio Free Asia
As the United Nations reviews China’s record in preventing violence against women, the authorities continue to detain and harass outspoken women activists, according to petitioners and rights activists Thursday.
Authorities in the central city of Wuhan handed a 10-day administrative sentence to activist Ye Haiyan after she posted a naked photo of herself online in a bid to highlight the U.N. review, the overseas-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) group reported.
Ye Haiyan, who founded the Women’s Rights Workshop, was taken away by police in her home district of Xinzhou after her home was searched last Friday, but the initial reason for her detention was unclear, lawyers told RFA at the time.
Ye was given a 10-day administrative detention, which can be handed down by a police committee without trial, for “intentionally exposing her body in a public place,” CHRD said in a statement e-mailed to RFA.
“Ye’s detention is due to a naked photo of herself she posted online on Oct. 22 that was meant to draw greater attention to the UN review,” said the group, which collates and translates reports from a number of Chinese rights groups.
She is currently being held at the Wuhan No. 1 Detention Center in Hubei province, it said.
In neighboring Henan province, authorities have confiscated the passport of HIV/AIDS activist Wang Qiuyun to prevent her from traveling to Geneva to contribute to the review.
Wang had planned to receive human rights training and meet members of the Committee for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (CEDAW), CHRD said.
She had already received a visa from the Swiss authorities, but Chinese authorities intercepted her passport on “orders from higher up,” it said.
Wang’s case echoes that of late rights activist Cao Shunli, who was similarly prevented from traveling to Geneva for China’s human rights review, and later died in police custody after her lawyers said she was denied adequate medical care.
Meanwhile, authorities in Beijing have continued to detain and harass petitioners, the majority of whom are women and have been identified by rights groups as among the most vulnerable to illegal detention, violence, and sexual abuse in unofficial detention centers, or “black jails.”
Wheelchair-bound eviction activist Ni Yulan, 52, has once more been forced to leave the accommodations she rented with her husband after the authorities put pressure on her landlord, she said.
Ni was sentenced in April 2012 to a two-year prison term following her conviction on charges of “fraud” and “causing a disturbance” by the Xicheng District People’s Court after she protested forced evictions ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
Her husband, former schoolteacher Dong Jiqin, was also convicted of creating a disturbance and was handed a two-year term.
Beijing authorities had earlier revoked Ni’s business license because of her legal advocacy work on behalf of the capital’s residents who were evicted to make way for development linked to the 2008 Olympic Games.
“We arrived here on Oct. 30, and the landlord came round [on Wednesday] and told us that we have to move out,” Ni told RFA on Thursday.
“He came again this evening at 7:30 p.m. and said he’d beat up my husband and told us to leave immediately,” she said, adding that the couple had signed a year-long lease on the property.
Elsewhere in the Chinese capital, petitioners, the majority of them middle-aged and older women, are being rounded up and taken into unofficial detention centers as the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum opened in Beijing on Wednesday.
Jilin petitioner Wang Jing said there are now “far fewer” petitioners in Beijing.
“We were just at the state council complaints office, and there’s pretty much no one there,” Wang said. “There are so many vehicles there from representative offices of all the provinces and cities in China, as well as police cars.”
“I also saw a lot of security guards patrolling residential areas, with red armbands,” she said.
Meanwhile, rights activist Wang Shurong said a large group of petitioners were taken away in an early morning raid in Beijing.
“The police came and detained us … and took us to Jiujingzhuang [unofficial detention center] where they released us again,” Wang Shurong said.
“There are a lot of plainclothes police, uniformed police and security guards everywhere,” she said. “At Jiujingzhuang, there were more interceptors than petitioners.”
Also in Beijing, authorities have stepped up controls over the wife of jailed 2010 Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, who has been under house arrest at the couple’s apartment since her husband’s award was announced, although she hasn’t been charged with any crime.
Liu Xia’s brother Liu Tong said his sister was under additional surveillance during the APEC talks, which runs until Nov. 13.
“These are short-term measures,” Liu Tong told RFA. “This is a very common practice, and it has always been this way.”
He said Liu Xia is in “reasonable” shape after receiving treatment for heart disease earlier this year. But he said she still suffers from long-term depression. “This will take a long time to treat,” Liu Tong said.
List of women
The CHRD on Thursday released a “partial list” of 163 women who were documented as being detained in black jails between January 2009 and September 2014.
The women were held—and some are still being held—for differing lengths of time in centers like Jiujingzhuang and Majialou on the outskirts of Beijing, as well as in guesthouses, hotels, holiday resorts, and private residences, the report showed.
Some 80 percent of people held in China’s black jails are women, and many suffer routine abuse at the hands of their captors, according to a report released by the CHRD last month.
The report documents around 1,000 cases of secret detention and abuse of women in the country’s black jails, which are often used to silence those pursuing complaints against the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
But Chinese officials denied the existence of black jails in their submission to the CEDAW last August.
“Chinese detention facilities respect international human rights standards” and “fully protect the legitimate rights and interests of women held in detention,” the report said, but contained no mention of black jails.
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