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Foreign Diplomats Barred From Visiting Rights Activist in Beijing

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Qiao Long  |  Radio Free Asia

Eviction activist Ni Yulan (courtesy of Ni Yulan)

Authorities in the Chinese capital have prevented diplomats from France, Germany, Canada, and Switzerland as well as a representative from the European Union from visiting award-winning eviction activist, wheelchair-bound Ni Yulan, who has been under house arrest with no food at her Beijing home since April 13.

The group of diplomats were turned away by police after they showed up at her rented home in the hope of bringing her food, Ni, who is confined to a wheelchair, told RFA on Monday.

“Some foreign diplomats tried to bring me some food, and they also wanted to get a doctor to come and take a look at me,” Ni said.

“But when they got here on Saturday afternoon, they were stopped by six plainclothes officers, who wouldn’t let them in,” she said.

Ni, 54, who was recently prevented from traveling to the United States to receive a State Department 2016 Woman of Courage Award, said she is in failing health and urgently needs food.

“I have been under house arrest for a long time now, and I haven’t seen the sun,” Ni said. “I don’t have anything to eat, and the police won’t let me seek medical attention.”

“They won’t let a doctor come and visit me here, either.”

The diplomats had given the food to Ni’s husband after enquiring after her health, Ni said.

Harassed by authorities

The veteran activist, who has since offered legal assistance to others fighting eviction from their homes, says she and her husband Dong Jiqin have been hounded by the authorities since their release from prison in 2014.

“They say that the rooms we have rented are illegal, although we are paying a high rent for them,” Ni said. “We have paid 14 months’ rent up front, at a rate of 2,400 yuan/month.”

“The police have already forced us to leave our rented accommodation many times, by contacting our letting agent,” she said. “They told me they plan to come back on Friday and make sure that we leave.”

“The police told us that this is within the jurisdiction of the Guangqiao district police station,” she said.

Ni said the harassment hasn’t stopped since she and Dong protested their original eviction.

“To this day, we have had no resolution of our forced eviction complaint from the government, nor any response,” she said.

The Global Times newspaper, which has close ties to the ruling Chinese Communist Party, said the attempted visit was politically motivated.

“This was exceeding their brief as diplomats, and as such constituted a collective political act,” the paper said in an opinion article published in Chinese on Monday.

The paper has also accused Ni of falsifying claims to legal qualifications.

Ni has been repeatedly targeted for her activism on behalf of the most vulnerable in Chinese society.

In April 2012, she was sentenced to a two-year prison term following her conviction on charges of “fraud” and “causing a disturbance” by the Xicheng District People’s Court in Beijing. The sentence was later reduced by two months.

Dong, a former schoolteacher, was also convicted of creating a disturbance and was handed a two-year term.

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