Ni Yulan and the Agonies of Chinese Justice

At CNN, Human Rights Watch’s Phelim Kine details Ni Yulan’s activism and the Beijing authorities’ retaliation. Ni recently received a small but symbolic two-month reduction to her ongoing 32-month prison sentence.

Like other high profile victims of the Chinese government’s hostility to peaceful dissent, Ni has been motivated in her work by a powerful sense of injustice. Ni focused on the epidemic of forced evictions and demolitions across vast swathes of Beijing, which accelerated in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

In September 2002, that activism, and particularly her filming of a forced eviction, gave her a year in prison for “obstructing official business,” along with the revocation of her lawyer’s license. Undaunted, Ni continued to denounce illegal evictions and unfair compensation after her release. Just before the Beijing Olympics, Ni was sentenced to two years in prison after trying to stop the demolition of her own home. While in prison, she was tortured and denied adequate medical care.

[…] As the ruling Chinese Communist Party undertakes its historic transition from the era of President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao to presumed successors Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, pundits will spill no shortage of ink trying to define the fruits of the Party’s 62-year monopoly on power and its future direction.

Ni Yulan, unbowed in her prison cell, could give them an earful.