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China: Update – Human rights defender Ms Ni Yulan's fraud conviction dismissed
On 27 July 2012, the Beijing First Intermediate People's Court dismissed the conviction of human rights defender Ms Ni Yulan for fraud, thus reducing her jail sentence by two months. However, the human rights defender's conviction for 'creating a disturbance' remains in place, for which she was sentenced to two years and six months' imprisonment in April 2012.
The fraud charges against Ni Yulan arose from the allegation that she misrepresented herself as a lawyer in order to benefit financially. However, the court dismissed these charges, instead ruling that all money received by Ni Yulan was in the form of donations. According to her lawyer, Ni Yulan is suffering from malnutrition due to the poor nutritive quality of the food in prison.
Ni Yulan is a veteran housing rights and legal activist who has provided free legal advice to hundreds of people in Beijing, particularly those who were forced out of their homes because of development projects. The human rights defender has been imprisoned on two occasions prior to her current detention for her human rights work. In 2002 after attempting to record the forced eviction of her neighbours and the demolition of their home on camera, Ni Yulan was beaten so badly by police that she was left permanently disabled.
Although Front Line Defenders welcomes the dismissal of human rights defender Ni Yulan's fraud conviction, we call on the Chinese authorities to dismiss Ni Yulan's outstanding conviction and to effect her immediate and unconditional release, as it is believed that she has been imprisoned solely for her peaceful and legitimate human rights work.
For further information on Ni Yulan, please see the Front Line Defenders urgent appeals dated 10 April 2012 ( Human rights defender Ni Yulan and husband, Dong Jiqin, sentenced to two years and eight months and two years respectively), 8 April 2011 ( Disabled housing rights activist and human rights defender Ni Yulan and husband Dong Jiqin disappear into police custody), and 7 January 2011 ( Harassment of human rights defender Ms Ni Yulan).