Activist’s daughter barred from travelling to The Hague

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The daughter of human rights activist Ni Yulan has been barred from leaving China.

Dong Xuan was arrested at the Beijing international airport where she intended to board a plane to the Netherlands to accept a Dutch human rights award on behalf of her mother who is in prison awaiting trial on fraud charges.

Since 2008 the Netherlands has awarded the Human Rights Defenders Tulip to individuals who make an exceptional contribution to the fight for human rights. As a lawyer, Ni Yulan has provided legal defense for victims of land evictions and in housing rights cases.

Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal has summoned the Chinese ambassador in The Hague to demand an explanation. The foreign ministry says that the Dutch embassy in Beijing will ask the Chinese authorities for clarification.

D66 party leader Alexander Pechtold earlier on Wednesday asked Minister Rosenthal to provide clarification about media reports that Ni Yulan’s daughter Dong Xuan had been arrested at the Beijing international airport.

Last year, Mr Rosenthal announced the name of the winner later than usual at the request of Ni Yulan’s closest relatives. The award is usually presented on 10 December, International Human Rights Day.

Cisca Dresselhuys, the chair of the independent jury which selects the winner of the Human Rights Defenders Tulip, said the foreign ministry informed her on Wednesday about Dong Xuan’s arrest. Ms Dresselhuys said she was shocked but that the award ceremony would go ahead as planned, even if she had to “speech to an empty chair.”

The jury always considers whether awarding the prize to a dissident will further their cause or in fact pose a danger. In this case the jury consulted the relatives and lawyer of Ni Yulan and decided that she should be awarded the prize. “If you don’t, you become in fact complicit in what the Chinese government prefers to do: keeping silent about dissidents,” Ms Dresselhuys said.

(gsh)

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