voa_chinese_ni_yulan_4oct10.jpg
Photograph: VOA

Chinese security forces Saturday blocked Western diplomats from visiting the veteran civil rights activist Ni Yulan.

Diplomats from Germany, France, Canada and Switzerland, as well as an EU representative, had been on their way to visit the former lawyer when they were prevented by officials in uniform and civilian clothing.

The activist, who had previously received three prison sentences, has been under house arrest in a temporary residence since mid-April, and been subject to beatings at night and had her apartment taken from her, dpa has learned.

"The message of our visit is clear: leave this woman in peace," said a Western diplomat, who wanted to remain anonymous.

Chinese authorities recently prevented the physically disabled 56-year-old from travelling to Washington to accept an award from US Secretary of State John Kerry for her civil rights work.

Ni says she was beaten, tortured and not given medical treatment during a 2002 detention for filming a forced relocation, leaving her with permanent back and leg injuries and requiring her to use crutches or a wheelchair to move around.

Chinese courts have handed down multiple sentences against the former legal adviser, who has long advocated for victims of government-backed land grabs.

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