China activist 'to go on trial this week': family

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Chinese rights activist Ni Yulan and her husband will go on trial this week after representing victims of land grabs, their daughter said Tuesday, as China cracks down on political dissent.

Ni and Dong Jiqin were detained in April as Chinese authorities rounded up scores of rights defenders and activists amid anonymous Internet calls for protests in China similar to those that have swept the Arab world.

The couple will appear in court in Beijing on Thursday on charges of "inciting a disturbance", their daughter Dong Xuan told AFP, adding they would plead not guilty.

"The police have not allowed me to see my parents since they were detained more than eight months ago," she said. "Our lawyer saw my mother last week and said she was not in good health."

The couple has provided legal assistance to numerous families around China who have been forcibly evicted from their homes in government-backed land requisitions.

Their battle to oppose the land grabs began in 2001 after their courtyard home in central Beijing was requisitioned and marked for demolition.

One village in southern China, Wukan, recently revolted against officialdom in protest at years of illegal land grabs by local Communist leaders. Talks with a senior official defused the standoff last week.

The senior provincial official, Zhu Mingguo, said the country should be ready for more Wukan-style protests as people demand their rights, state media reported Tuesday.

Trained as a lawyer, Ni, 51, was sentenced to a year in jail in 2002 for "obstructing official business" and for two years in 2008 for "harming public property" -- charges brought against her as she tried to protect her home.

She was also disbarred from legal practice in 2002. The couple say they have not been compensated for the loss of their home.

The Hong Kong-based group Chinese Human Rights Defenders says Ni was left disabled after being beaten by police in 2002 and suffers from severe health problems.

She is unable to stand and is also suffering from swollen lymph nodes, and cannot afford medical treatment, the rights group has said.

The trial comes after a court in southwest China's Guizhou province Monday sentenced veteran activist Chen Xi for 10 years for subversion. Another longtime dissident, Chen Wei, was jailed for nine years in Sichuan province, also for subversion.