China Accused of Stepping Up Pressure on Five Feminists

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Originally published by Latin America Herald Tribune on September 21, 2015

BEIJING – A women rights activist, who was detained along with four other feminists for 37 days by Beijing earlier in the year, has accused the government of trying to get her evicted from her home.

Li Tingting, the most active member of the group, told EFE, the police have stepped up pressure on her landlord to have her move out.

In a statement written in Chinese, Li, 25, urged the authorities to leave her in peace and explained what happened.

“The proprietor of my house told me he recently received a call from the housing committee (of the district) and a police officer surnamed Guo telling him to evict me from the apartment where I live. They said my case was related to matters of national security,” she said.

“I don’t know why the police is still after me. The only thing I do is campaign for gender equality and women’s rights, and at times work for the interests of minority groups. What has this to do with national security?” Li said.

Besides the five women, their friends have also been “pressurized” by the authorities, Chinese NGO Yireping’s co-founder Lu Jun, with whom most of the arrested feminists collaborated, told EFE.

“A friend of the five feminists was intimidated by the police this week. The officers warned that the feminists continue to be suspected of harming the security of the state,” Lu said without offering more details.

This recent case of linking the feminists to crimes related to national security has alarmed human rights experts.

“They were never detained under charges related to national security, but for disturbance of public order,” Chinese Human Rights Defendersinvestigator in Hong Kong, Frances Eve told EFE Thursday.

According to Eve, these new police actions could mean two things; that the police “have become emboldened” by the recently approved national security law and are using the terminology, despite the women being arrested under other charges, or that they are investigating the five women for a more serious crime and are going to press more charges.

Human rights organizations link the increasing pressure on certain groups like the feminists to Xi’s upcoming intervention at the U.N. forum in New York, in commemoration of another summit on women held in China 20 years ago.

“When the five feminists were detained, one of the reasons for widespread condemnation was that China is very involved in the U.N. event and to arrest the women, clashes head on with the goal of giving more power to women,” Eve highlighted.

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