Beijing Activist's Husband Beaten Up After Diplomats Refused Meeting

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Ni Yulan (C) and her husband Dong Jiqin (3L) pose with friends and supporters in Beijing, May 27, 2010.

Three unidentified men beat up the husband of an outspoken Beijing-based housing rights activist amid a growing campaign by local police to force the two to leave their home, the couple said.

As world leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Beijing on Tuesday to forge closer trade and economic ties in the region, the authorities have carried out mass detentions of petitioners and placed many critics of the ruling Chinese Communist Party under house arrest.

Three men in plain clothes came to the rented apartment in Beijing of wheelchair-bound eviction activist Ni Yulan, 52, and her husband Dong Jiqin, in the early hours of Monday morning, Ni told RFA.

"The police don't want us living in this rented apartment ... and they have already been to see the landlord to tell them not to allow us to continue living here," Ni said.

"On Nov. 5, the landlord's entire family of five came by to force us to move, but it was the police who drove them here in their cars," she added.

Ni was sentenced in April 2012 to a two-year prison term following her conviction on charges of "fraud" and "causing a disturbance" by Beijing's 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.

Husband beaten

Ni said police had beaten Dong during the raid on the couple's home.

"My other half told them they should show some ID, so one of the men went outside and got into a small black car, where there were two other people sitting, and they came and shoved Dong, pushing him to the ground, and then they beat him," she said.

"They snatched away his cell phone, which is now so damaged you can't use the screen, and I don't know where the SIM card is," Ni said.

Ni said the couple had called the police and municipal government officials after the attack. "I called [emergency number] 110 ... maybe 11 times, but the local police station never got around to sending any officers," she said.

Dong sustained bruising to his back and is currently in a state of shock following the attack, she added. "He is a bit shaky when he stands," she said.

In a later interview, Dong told RFA things had got "even more tense" after police began following the couple everywhere they went at the end of last month.

He said the attack is likely linked to tight security surrounding the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leadership summit in Beijing on Tuesday.

"Some officials from foreign embassies wanted to set up a meeting with both of us," Dong said. "But the police kept them outside, and wouldn't let them come in. They wouldn't let us go out, either."

"They blocked the door of our apartment with 50 or 60 people," he said. "There were police cars, traffic cop cars and other vehicles parked outside."

Meetings blocked

Obama called Monday on the administration of Chinese president Xi Jinping to improve human rights, as well as to ease trade barriers, during a speech to the APEC forum.

But sources in the capital say his officials are having a hard time arranging any direct meetings with dissidents and activists, making it harder for the president to put the topic firmly on the agenda.

Dong said he is reluctant to move, because there are no guarantees that police harassment won't continue in another location.

"The police beat me up [on Monday] morning, and they snatched away my cell phone when I went to call 110," he said. "They beat me around the head and chest."

Obama told Xi on Tuesday that he wants to take U.S.-China relations to "a new level" after the leadership summit agreed to launch a two-year study into China's plans for a regional free-trade pact to rival the U.S.-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Obama is also scheduled for one-to-one discussions with Xi on Wednesday, which will likely include cyber-security, climate change and maritime disputes in the East and South China Seas that have fed growing regional tensions between an increasingly assertive China and its smaller Asian neighbors.

Later that day, Obama will leave for another regional economic meeting in Myanmar, before heading to the G-20 in Brisbane, Australia at the weekend.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Wen Yuqing for the Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.


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