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Woman human rights defender Liu Yanli sentenced

Status: 
Sentenced
About the situation

On 26 August 2020, the Jingmen Intermediate People's Court in Hubei province rejected woman human rights defender Liu Yanli's appeal.

On 3 August 2020, lawyer Zhang Lei was allowed to speak with woman human rights defender Liu Yanli via a video-call to discuss her appeal. The lawyer informed Liu Yanli that a judge at the Jingmen Intermediate Court in Hubei province had notified him that a physical hearing would not be held for the second-instance trial in her case, and that lawyers should submit their defense arguments in writing. Zhang Lei said that the appeal ruling is likely to be issued soon.

On 2 May 2020, lawyers representing woman human rights defender Liu Yanli (刘艳丽) received the official verdict from the Dongbao District Court in Jingmen city, Hubei province. The verdict convicted and sentenced Liu Yanli to four years in prison for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”. The verdict is dated 24 April 2020, however her trial took place on 31 January 2019.

About Liu Yanli

Liu Yanli is an active blogger and has published numerous articles online and campaigned for issues such as anti-corruption, transparency for government officials’ personal assets, protection of the rights of elderly veteran soldiers, and democratic reforms. She is also a member of the free speech campaign group Independent Chinese PEN Centre, part of PEN International. In 2015, she participated in a campaign for China’s peaceful democratic transition and also engaged in efforts to legally register the independent organisation China Human Rights Watch. Both campaigns were initiated by fellow human rights defender Qin Yongmin, who is now serving 13 years’ imprisonment as consequence for his peaceful human rights work. Liu Yanli is also the recipient of the 14th Lin Zhao Memorial Award given by the Chinese PEN in 2018 and of the 2nd Yu Zhijian Memorial Award in 2019.

10 September 2020
Liu Yanli's sentence upheld

On 26 August 2020, the Jingmen Intermediate People's Court in Hubei province rejected woman human rights defender Liu Yanli's appeal, and upheld the verdict sentencing her to four years' imprisonment for "picking quarrels and provoking trouble".

6 August 2020
Liu Yanli denied physical hearing for her trial

On 3 August 2020, lawyer Zhang Lei was allowed to speak with woman human rights defender Liu Yanli via a video-call to discuss her appeal.

The lawyer informed Liu Yanli that a judge at the Jingmen Intermediate Court in Hubei province had notified him that a physical hearing would not be held for the second-instance trial in her case, and that lawyers should submit their defense arguments in writing. Zhang Lei said that the appeal ruling is likely to be issued soon.

Liu Yanli told the lawyer that the actions for which she was convicted were all legal under Chinese laws. She said she posted or re-posted on WeChat and Weibo criticisms of the government and its officials, but they were not insults and constituted legitimate exercise of her right to freedom of expression. The defender said she would never recant or apologise for her actions and that she does not regret exercising and defending human rights, which resulted in her imprisonment.

The woman human rights defender was informed that she had been convicted and sentenced to four years in prison for "picking quarrels and provoking trouble" on 2 May 2020.

8 May 2020
Woman human rights defender Liu Yanli sentenced

On 2 May 2020, lawyers representing woman human rights defender Liu Yanli (刘艳丽) received the official verdict from the Dongbao District Court in Jingmen city, Hubei province. The verdict convicted and sentenced Liu Yanli to four years in prison for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”. The verdict is dated 24 April 2020, however her trial took place on 31 January 2019.

Download the Urgent Appeal

Liu Yanli is an active blogger and has published numerous articles online and campaigned for issues such as anti-corruption, transparency for government officials’ personal assets, protection of the rights of elderly veteran soldiers, and democratic reforms. She is also a member of the free speech campaign group Independent Chinese PEN Centre, part of PEN International. In 2015, she participated in a campaign for China’s peaceful democratic transition and also engaged in efforts to legally register the independent organisation China Human Rights Watch. Both campaigns were initiated by fellow human rights defender Qin Yongmin, who is now serving 13 years’ imprisonment as consequence for his peaceful human rights work. Liu Yanli is also the recipient of the 14th Lin Zhao Memorial Award given by the Chinese PEN in 2018 and of the 2nd Yu Zhijian Memorial Award in 2019.

Liu Yanli has been subjected to police summonses, harassment and confiscation of her computers on numerous occasions in the past in reprisal for her blog posts and writings online, holding the state to account for its policies. On 26 September 2016, she was taken into cusody and detained on suspicion of libel and was then formally arrested on 3 November 2016. On 27 May 2017, Liu Yanli was released on bail pending investigation, however on 25 May 2018 she was placed back in police custody under residential surveillance. Soon after the residential surveillance ended, she was re-arrested on 22 November 2018 and had been in detention until her trial took place on 31 January 2019.

In the official verdict, the court cited 28 published articles or social media postings by Liu Yanli that contained “false information about major domestic events”, “insulted and attacked leaders of the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese State”, “maliciously sensationalised popular social events”, and “created disturbances that damaged public order”. In the final statement she prepared for the day of the trial, Liu Yanli insisted on her innocence and that opposition to and criticisms of the Communist Party are protected speech. She stressed that her writings represented her personal opinions on issues of public concern and she was peacefully exercising her right to freedom of expression, which is guaranteed under the Chinese Constitution.

Front Line Defenders condemns the sentencing of Liu Yanli and believes it is a direct reprisal against her legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights.