Guangdong rights activist faces trial

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 February, 2012, 12:00am


An independent candidate who tried to run for a seat in a legislature in Guangdong faces trial next week for allegedly breaching electoral regulations, according to her lawyers.

Li Biyun, an outspoken land-rights activist, was to stand trial at the Shunde District People's Court in Foshan on Wednesday, lawyer Wang Quanping said.

Li Biyun, 43, has been detained since September last year on the charge of 'undermining elections' after she injured an election committee official with a pair of scissors, lawyer Li Zhiyong said.

At the time, she was protesting at a pre-election meeting that she regarded as unlawful because it excluded most of the voters, he said. She had earlier tried to take the Shunde district election committee to court over what she saw as unfair electoral rules that disqualified her, but the court refused to accept the case.

The lawyers said the charge was too harsh, given that the injury sustained was slight and her victim decided not to sue her.

'But because she has long been a high-profile activists who has fought for local villagers' rights, I believe she is being targeted,' Wang said.

Li, an independent running for a seat in her local people's congress, had the support of 600 residents but none of the political backing enjoyed by many other candidates.

She was jailed for 10 months in 2010 for allegedly 'obstructing the execution of public duty' after a confrontation with police while fighting for compensation for land taken from villagers, the advocacy group Chinese Human Rights Defenders said. It said she was severely beaten in prison, injuring her back.

The recent emergence of high-profile candidates - petitioners, activists, professors and businessmen - contesting polls without Communist Party backing appears to have unnerved authorities.

Using the internet for their campaigns, they often attract popular support although many say they have been harassed or detained. There are other independent candidates who have been successful in polls in recent months.