Back to top

Li Xiaoling suffers medical emergency while in detention; later detained for related protest

Status: 
Arrested
About the situation

On 15 September 2017, petitioner rights advocate Li Xiaoling’s (李小玲) lawyer revealed that she had been formally arrested on the charge of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles”. The human rights defender has been detained since  4 June 2017.

About Li Xiaoling

li_xiaoling.jpegLi Xiaoling is a long-time defender of the rights of petitioners, prisoners, and other individuals marginalized or targeted by Chinese authorities. She has been involved in numerous campaigns to raise the profile of Chinese petitioners, to call attention to government rights violations, and to publicize information on government assets.

20 September 2017
Li Xiaoling formally arrested

On 15 September 2017, petitioner rights advocate Li Xiaoling’s (李小玲) lawyer revealed that she had been formally arrested on the charge of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles”. The human rights defender has been detained since 4 June 2017.

On 12 September 2017, petitioner rights advocate Li Xiaoling was placed under formal arrest for the charge of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles”. She has been held in some form of police custody since her arrest on 4 June 2017. On 5 July 2017, following her release from a detention centre in Beijing, police escorted Li Xiaoling back to Zhuhai City, where she was placed under 24-hour surveillance by officers of the Cuixiang Police Station in a small hotel room. On 8 August 2017, having reached the maximum legal period for administrative detention, the defender was transferred to criminal detention in the Zhuhai No. 1 Detention Centre, where she currently remains. 

Li Xiaoling continues to suffer from a severe case of glaucoma, which she contracted while under detention in Zhuhai’s Nanxi Police Station on 17 May 2017 in connection with a separate incident. While in custody, Nanxi police refused to allow the defender to seek medical attention for over eight hours, causing irreparable damage to her eyes. Despite the severity of her condition, Li Xiaoling has only been permitted to access medical care at local hospitals twice since July 2017. On both occasions, doctors have stated that Li Xiaoling requires treatment at a specialised eye clinic. Authorities have refused to allow the human rights defender to receive such treatment.

Front Line Defenders condemns the continued detention of Li Xiaoling as well as the lack of adequate medical treatment afforded to the human rights defender. Front Line Defenders calls on Zhuhai authorities to drop any criminal cases against Li Xiaoling and to facilitate adequate treatment for the human rights defender’s medical condition.

13 July 2017
Li Xiaoling's eye function almost entirely lost as she remains under house arrest

On 12 July 2017, it emerged that human rights defender Li Xiaoling (李小玲) has been kept under house arrest since her release on bail from a Beijing detention center one week ago. Six other individuals, arrested with the human rights defender in June, were also released on 5 and 6 July after 30 days in detention. The group was arrested in response to a public protest against the treatment of Li Xiaoling during an earlier instance of detention, in which negligent action by police exacerbated an onset of acute glaucoma suffered by the defender while in custody. As a result of this negligence, the human rights defender is now almost completely blind.

In May 2017, Li Xiaoling was forced to return to her home city of Zhuhai in southern China in the lead-up to China’s “One Belt, One Road” summit meetings. On 17 May 2017, while detained in Zhuhai City’s Nanxi Police Station for an incident related to her work as a human rights defender, Li Xiaoling suffered an attack of acute glaucoma. Police refused to let the defender seek medical treatment, resulting in irreparable damage to both of the defender’s eyes. After returning to Beijing in early June 2017, Li Xiaoling held a small, peaceful protest on the morning of 4 June 2017, commemorating the Tiananmen Massacre of 1989 as well as protesting her treatment by Nanxi police the previous month. In response, Beijing authorities arrested the defender and six of her associates and temporarily detained a child living with one of the arrestees. All seven adults were accused of the crime of ‘picking quarrels and provoking troubles’.

On 5 July, 2017 following her release from detention, police escorted Li Xiaoling back to Zhuhai City, where she was placed under 24-hour surveillance by officers of the Cuixiang Police Station in a small hotel room. Li Xiaoling has no telephone or other means to communicate with the outside world, and most individuals seeking to visit her have been refused access to her. Li Xiaoling’s eyes remain in terrible condition, rendering the defender almost completely blind. By continuing to hold her in detention, Zhuhai authorities are preventing the human rights defender from obtaining  necessary medical treatment.

In February and March 2017, Front Line Defenders reported on the arbitrary detention of Li Xiaoling after she was prevented from carrying out her advocacy work during a number of high level meetings in February and March 2017.

Front Line Defenders condemns the arbitrary arrest of Li Xiaoling and her colleagues, which it believes was solely motivated by their peaceful work upholding human rights. Front Line Defenders further condemns the lack of adequate medical treatment afforded to the human rights defender while in police custody and calls on Nanxi Police to take responsibility for their role in Li Xiaoling’s current ophthalmic distress. Front Line Defenders urges the Beijing authorities to drop any criminal cases against Li Xiaoling and her colleagues and to refrain from any further harassment of the defender. Front Line Defenders urges Zhuhai authorities to remove all obstacles to Li Xiaoling’s procurement of necessary medical care.

12 June 2017
Li Xiaoling suffers medical emergency while in detention; later detained for related protest

As of 5.45 pm on the evening of 5 June 2017, Beijing authorities placed Li Xiaoling (李小玲) and seven other individuals under criminal detention for their ties to Li Xiaoling. Li Xiaoling was detained by Beijing police on the morning of 4 June 2017, in response to a small protest that the defender had held the previous evening. Beijing authorities simultaneously detained six other individuals for their association with Li Xiaoling. On 5 June 2017, another individual was detained for his reporting on the status of the original seven detainees, bringing the total number of detainees to eight.

Download the Urgent Appeal (PDF)

Li Xiaoling has worked for years to support and raise awareness for Chinese petitioners. She has also spent years campaigning for Chinese prisoners, advocating for better conditions inside China’s detention facilities. In May 2017, during preparations for China’s “One Belt One Road” summit meeting, Beijing authorities forced Li Xiaoling to leave her home in Beijing and return to her birth province, Guangzhou.

The defender took advantage of her forced return to Guangzhou to follow up on a legal issue; a local court wished to retract a document it had issued to Li Xiaoling approving a suit she had filed against local Guangzhou authorities. When court officers attempted to force the defender to return the document, Li Xiaoling called local police. When local police arrived, they took the side of the court, assisting court officers to recover the document and then forcing Li Xiaoling to spend the night in a Guangzhou detention centre.

During the evening, Li Xiaoling suffered a severe ophthalmic emergency and immediately informed detention centre officials, requesting to be taken immediately for medical treatment. The officers ignored the defender’s requests and refused to let her leave the detention centre. When Li Xiaoling was finally able to visit a hospital almost 8 hours later, doctors were only able to salvage a small percentage of the defender’s vision.

After returning to Beijing, Li Xiaoling took a series of photos in the vicinity of Beijing’s Tian’anmen Square, commemorated the 28th anniversary of China’s Tian’anmen Massacre and protested her treatment by Guangzhou authorities. She was detained early the next morning, under suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles,” a charge frequently used against activists in China. Along with Li Xiaoling, Beijing police also detained, under the same charge, Li’s associates Zhou Li, Bu Yongzhu, Liang Yankui, Li Xuehui, Quan Jianhu, and the young daughter of another human rights defender, solely because of their affiliation with Li Xiaoling. On 5 June, Zhao Chunhong, a Beijing activist who had been sharing information about the detentions on social media, was also detained by authorities.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in China to:

1. Immediately drop all charges against Li Xiaoling and her fellow detainees;

2. Immediately and unconditionally release Li Xiaoling and her fellow detainees;

3. Ensure that the treatment of Li Xiaoling and her fellow detainees, while in detention, adheres to the conditions set out in the ‘Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment', adopted by UN General Assembly resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988;

4. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in China are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.