Disabled Chinese lawyer Ni Yulan and her husband Dong Jiqin, both known for their activism against land grabbing, were sentenced to prison today. Ni was sentenced to two years and eight months, and Dong was sentenced to two years.
"This is completely unfair," the couple's daughter told the Associated Foreign Press. "Both my parents looked very thin. I was unable to see my mother's face, she didn't turn around."
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The couple was sentenced on charges of "picking quarrels, provoking trouble and willfully destroying private and public property," BBC News reported. The couple was detained in April of last year after the Chinese government rounded up activists, a response to the government's concerns about Arab Spring, the BBC said.
Ni, 51, began fighting against land grabs in 2002 after her home in Beijing was demolished. She and her husband then provided legal advice to others who were victims of land grabs.
Ni is in a wheelchair as the result of a previous arrest, Amnesty International said. According to the organization, police tortured her and injured her feet and knee caps in 2002.
But during her trial in December, Ni couldn't even use her wheelchair. Instead, she lay on a bed and needed an oxygen machine, the Guardian reported.
"I think Ni's activism offended some official in Xicheng district and from then on the cycle of activism and the retaliation has continued," another activist told the Guardian today.
Government-backed "land grabs" are one of the most explosive issues in China, Reuters reported in October. Under the arrangements, government officials demolish homes to make way for new buildings. Homeowners complain of poor compensation from the government, however, and the land grabs regularly trigger protests, the Associated Foreign Press reported today.