China: Police prevented Western diplomats from visiting civil rights lawyer
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China: Police prevented Western diplomats from visiting civil rights lawyer

A VOCAL civil rights lawyer in China has said that five Western diplomats were prevented from visiting her by police on Saturday.

According to Ni Yulan, the diplomats were stopped by six plainclothes officers when they attempted to see her at her rented house in Beijing.

Last month, Ni was meant to receive the International Women of Courage Award in Washington D.C. for her work in defending those unfairly evicted from their homes, but was barred from traveling to the U.S. as the government refused to issue her a passport.

The 56-year-old said she has been under constant monitoring by the police and other security agents, who have prevented her from leaving her home since April 13, when she went to the U.S. embassy to collect her award.

In an interview with the BBC in March, Ni alleged that she and her husband were being intimidated by the authorities, as they were forced to leave their rented home after police pressured their landlord into evicting them.

She said that a group of men had barged into their home and forcibly threw them out, even taking money from her and beating up her husband.

Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has cracked down dissenters, which has led to the arrests of many activists, journalists and lawyers.

Chinese officials had reportedly refused to grant Ni a passport because she had ties to human rights lawyers who had been arrested by the government in a mass clampdown last year.

The lawyers were detained for supposed “subversion of state power” in what has become known as the “709 crackdown”, which refers to July 9, when the first arrest took place.

Ni told the New York Times that the authorities were displeased by her efforts to draw attention to the detained lawyers’ plight via social media.

The wheelchair-bound activist first rose to prominence after helping a group of Beijing residents whose homes were demolished to make way for structures built for the 2008 Olympic Games.

Since then, however, she continued confronting the government over various human rights issues and has been jailed many times.

Additional reporting by Associated Press