A rights activist detained in the southern Chinese province of Yunnan alongside her boyfriend on public order charges after he compiled detailed lists of protests, has rejected the charges against her in a recent meeting with her lawyer.
Li Tingyu, who is currently being held under formal arrest in Yunnan’s Dali city on suspicion of “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble,” says she is innocent.
Li was detained at the same time as her boyfriend Lu Yuyu, who ran a blog under the social media handle @wickedonnaa, and recently received a visit from her defense attorney, rights lawyer Ge Yongxi.
She told him police had warned her that she could become a “second Zhao Wei,” in a reference to the detained legal assistant held in a nationwide crackdown on rights lawyers and activists since July 9, 2015.
Zhao has reportedly been released amid unconfirmed reports of sexual abuse in a police-run detention center, but her whereabouts remain unknown, while her defense lawyer Ren Quanniu has also been detained.
“I don’t think they intended to threaten her by comparing her to Zhao Wei,” Ge told RFA after the meeting. “I think they were trying to say that she should do what Zhao Wei did.”
“They were saying that Zhao Wei confessed to her ‘crimes,’ and she’s now out on bail.”
Warning about lawyer
Li had also been warned about hiring a rights lawyer to defend her, Ge said.
“They didn’t bring it up directly, but they implied [she shouldn’t hire me] by saying that ‘these sorts of lawyers are unreliable’,” he said.
“They meant to indicate that these lawyers aren’t good eggs, and that they will be detained themselves sooner or later,” he said.
“The point was to get her to drop me as her lawyer,” he said.
Fellow defense attorney Huang Simin said Li Tingyu had been detained with no official documents being issued, and had undergone “intensive interrogations” over a number of days.
He said a recent application for her release on bail had been denied by the Dali municipal police department.
“We filed the bail application at the beginning of July, but they refused it,” Huang told RFA on Wednesday.
“They said that investigations are still under way.”
Lists of ‘mass incidents’
Li and Lu were detained after the blogger had compiled meticulous, daily lists of “mass incidents” like protests and riots that are largely ignored in the country’s tightly controlled state media, making the results public via Google, Twitter and Weibo.
Li, who was forced to drop out of a translation and interpretation degree at Guangzhou’s prestigious Zhongshan University after publishing articles out of the reach of Chinese government internet censors, was also formally arrested on the same charges at the same time.
She had already been targeted for “chats” with China’s state security police, and withdrew from her university amid huge political pressure on the university and on her family, according to the rights website Weiquanwang.
Lu, meanwhile, has been previously detained for short periods in Shanghai and Guangzhou for “illegal assembly,” and began compiling statistics of public protests and unrest in October 2012.
A former migrant worker, Lu called his online operation “Not the News,” in a nod to the widespread censorship of “sensitive” stories of mass protests by the ruling Chinese Communist Party and the media outlets under its control.
Activists have said the sort of data Lu compiled, which last year including details of more than 30,000 “mass incidents” not widely reported in China, could easily have made him a target.
Reported by Xin Lin for RFA’s Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.