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Chinese Court Refuses Medical Parole For Women’s Rights Activist Held For Two Years

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Hai Nan  |  Radio Free Asia

Guangdong rights activist Su Changlan (courtesy of

Authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong have refused a request for medical parole made by the husband of a prominent women’s rights activist who voiced public support for the 2014 pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, amid growing fears for her health.

Su Changlan, 45, is being held on suspicion of “incitement to subvert state power” after she showed public support for the Occupy Central campaign for universal suffrage in the former British colony, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

The Foshan People’s Court turned down the application for bail on medical grounds, the second to be lodged by Su’s lawyer since the authorities have repeatedly extended her pretrial detention.

“We don’t know the reason,” her husband Chen Dequan told RFA. “They just said bail wasn’t appropriate in her case.”

“I don’t know how she is; I don’t know much,” he said. “[The lawyer] told us to write her a letter to support her, and to tell her my feelings haven’t changed.”

Chen said he remains under close surveillance, with two police officers stationed outside the couple’s home, watching him round the clock.

Calls to the Foshan Intermediate People’s Court rang unanswered during office hours on Wednesday.

‘Case dragged out’

Su’s detention has already been extended several times, but police have denied requests for information about her medical condition.

Her defense lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan said he disagrees with the court’s refusal of bail for medical reasons.

“I think she qualifies, because her health has always been poor, and this case keeps being dragged out [by the authorities],” Liu said in an interview on Monday.

“I think the court should consider changing her status to ‘coercive measures,'” he said, referring to a form of house arrest used by Chinese police. “This could have a beneficial effect on her health.”

“They have promised that she would get a health check in the detention center, but when I asked her about it during my last visit, it turned out that there were conditions and limitations attached to it,” Liu said.

He said it was hard to challenge the court’s decision without more information.

“There are a lot of situations under which bail may be granted, but they didn’t say which one they were refusing the request under.”

Nationwide crackdown

Another member of Su’s defense team, Wu Kuiming, said his client has now been in police detention for nearly two years, causing her considerable anxiety.

“This has gone on for so long now, of course she is anxious,” Wu said. “We are doing our best to reassure her, but these worries are unavoidable … she was physically unwell when she went in, and she certainly hasn’t gotten any better in there.”

“They are giving her some medication, but it doesn’t seem to be working very well. Such is the standard of medical care in there.”

Su’s detention came as Beijing launched a nationwide crackdown on civil society groups campaigning for the rights of women, migrant workers, consumers, students in education, sex workers, and those with disabilities and diseases.

State media outlets run by the ruling Chinese Communist Party described Hong Kong’s Occupy Central pro-democracy movement as an illegal protest backed by “hostile foreign forces.”

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