Chinese police refuse to free child abuse campaigner
Supporters say she has been framed
- Tania Branigan for The Guardian
- June 4, 2013
Chinese police have refused to release an activist who was detained days after protesting against officials' failure to tackle child abuse.
Officials say Ye Haiyan intentionally injured three women in a fight and insist the case is nothing to do with her demonstration. But supporters believe the case is retaliation for her campaigning and Ye said prior to her detention that people had stormed into her home and beaten her in front of her child, leaving only when she grabbed a knife. She believed they were sent by local authorities.
Ye, a well known campaigner, was one of several people who protested outside government offices in Wanning, Hainan province, over the case of a headmaster and official accused of raping schoolgirls.
A photograph showing her holding up a sign reading: "Principal, call me if you want to get a room. Leave the pupils alone," inspired hundreds of others, who posted images of themselves with the same message online.
But on Thursday, shortly after she returned home to Bobai county, Guangxi, she posted an online plea for help, saying people had stormed into her home and attacked her and were still waiting outside her home. She then lost contact with friends.
Staff at her local police station told the Guardian that night that she was not detained, merely helping with their inquiries. On Monday they refused to answer queries, referring the Guardian to comments in other media reports.
Phoenix News said Ye had accepted 13 days of administrative detention and a 500 yuan fine after police concluded she had allowed the women to enter and was not acting in self-defence.
According to the Global Times, police claimed that 11 people went to her home because of an unrelated conflict dating back to last year, and that she deliberately wounded the three women with a knife in a struggle.
Her lawyer, Wang Quanping, told the newspaper that his request to suspend the detention had been turned down.
"The local police called me around noon to say the application was rejected, saying Ye should apply for the suspension herself, and there should be a guarantor. However, Ye's daughter is only 13 years old, which means she can't be a guarantor," he said.
Nicholas Bequelin, senior Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch, said: "The whole thing looks like a set-up so they could detain her for 15 days."
He added: "There is a history of using proxies to unlawfully assault human rights defenders. There is a long history of lawyers or activists being attacked by 'thugs' or 'gangsters' in fact acting at the behest of the government.
"She is the victim here: she was attacked and she documented what was happening. If police have convincing evidence showing otherwise they should come forward with it. The fact she is now detained seems to be a transparent ploy to silence her on the issue of sexual assault of school children."
He said he regarded it as an assault on women's rights in general given how prominent and vocal Ye was as a campaigner.
Ye had earlier said that she believed officials had sought to put pressure on her landlord to evict her.
She is best known for supporting the rights of sex workers, but said that as a parent and a former teacher she had decided she should focus on protecting children from sex abuse.
The South China Morning Post reported claims that the Wanning victims' parents wanted to press charges against the police for dereliction of duty but dropped their plans after coming under pressure.
Source: The Guardian