Authorities in the Chinese capital have turned down a formal request for medical parole for a jailed disabled rights lawyer who is plagued by thyroid disorders, her relatives said this week, vowing to appeal the decision.
Wheelchair-bound eviction activist Ni Yulan, 52, 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. The sentence was later reduced by two months.
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 evicted to make way for development linked to the 2008 Olympic Games.
Ni's daughter Dong Xuan said the family had applied for medical parole after Ni was told by prison authorities in October that there were no adequate medical facilities to treat a growth in her thyroid gland.
"The tumor in her thyroid is now as large as an egg, and it keeps growing," Dong said in an interview on Wednesday. "My mother ... can't sleep at night, and I am concerned that the tumor may be malignant."
"If we leave it any longer, it may be that it will be too late to treat," she said.
Dong said the family lodged the application for Ni's medical parole in October 2012, but that it was refused on the grounds that Ni was suffering from a "nodular goiter," a benign condition which doesn't qualify for medical parole.
"My father has made a request to see my mother's medical notes, but they wouldn't let us see them," she added. "They are just treating her with anti-inflammatory and pain-killer drugs."
Dong said that the family will appeal against the decision.
Ni is scheduled to be released in October, and her daughter said the appeal paperwork needs to be sped up.
“My mother is now scheduled to be transferred to a women’s prison, but the required paper work has been postponed for so long, even her lawyer cannot see her,” she said.
“Now my mom worries that if this drags on, the time for the effectiveness of the appeal might be over. She asked me to contact the lawyer again.”
Ni is wheelchair-bound as the result of alleged torture at the hands of the police, and suffers various other health problems.
Ni and Dong were detained amid a nationwide round-up of dissidents and rights activists sparked by online calls for a "Jasmine Revolution" inspired by the 2011 Arab Spring protests in the Middle East.
Police accused them of "tearing up the registration book" and "hurling insults" at the staff at the Yuxinyuan Guest House, where they had been living after a period spent sleeping rough in a Beijing park.
Business license revoked
Ni's fraud conviction sprang from allegations by police that she claimed to be a lawyer after the authorities revoked her business license in retaliation for her work on behalf of evictees in Beijing.
Their homes had been demolished to make way for construction projects linked to the city's hosting of the 2008 Olympic Games.
The jail term is the third conviction for Ni, who had already served jail terms in 2002 and 2008 for "obstructing official business."
She has reported extensive torture and harassment at the hands of the police, and the couple's home was demolished by the Xicheng district government in 2008, rights groups say.
Reported by Lin Jing for RFA's Cantonese Service and Fang Yuan for the Mandarin Service. Translated by Luisetta Mudie and Ping Chen. Written in English by Luisetta Mudie.