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Woman human rights defender Liu Yanli sentenced

Status: 
Sentenced
About the situation

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.

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.

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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.