BEIJING (AFP) - Beijing authorities destroyed the home of leading rights activist Ni Yulan on Friday as her distraught husband pleaded with the government to release her from jail.
Up to 200 police surrounded the home of the activist lawyer Ni and her husband Dong Jiqin as a bulldozer demolished the rest of the central Beijing courtyard home that Dong's parents purchased in 1951.
Authorities had already razed much of it in April.
Dong Jiqin (L) the husband of one of China's leading rights activists looks at whats left of their home in Beijing on November 18, 2008. Beijing's Xicheng court ordered developers to destroy the home of Ni Yulan, a prominent rights activist and lawyer fighting against government backed land grabs in central Beijing, one of the city's most sensitive social issues.
Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images
"The home is not so important, what is important is that Ni Yulan should be released from jail," a visibly shaken and tearful Dong told AFP as he watched the razing of the home where he was born.
"She was illegally arrested, beaten, jailed and illegally threatened to agree with this demolition."
Workers came knocking on the door early Friday morning, while police blocked both ends of the road leading to the home, refusing entry to those without proper identification.
Dong, 56, was able to only grab a plastic bag of legal documents before he was escorted out of the home.
Ni is a long-time campaigner against government-backed land grabs and has organized evicted residents to protest what they have alleged are government backed "illegal forceful eviction and demolition of homes."
The issue is one of the most sensitive social problems in China, with ordinary residents nationwide accusing local government officials of enriching themselves through collusion with developers in lucrative real estate deals.
Ni, 47, who has worked with other leading activists or "rights defenders" like Hu Jia and Gao Zhisheng, was arrested and charged with "obstructing official business" in April after wrecking teams destroyed most of the home.
Hu was sentenced to prison earlier this year, while Gao has disappeared and is believed to be in police custody.
Ni previously served a year in prison in 2002 for opposing evictions in Beijing.
"Who told you Ni Yulan has been jailed? I have never heard of this," said an official with Beijing's Xicheng government who refused to identify himself.
"This home is being forcibly demolished in accordance with the law."