Women’s legal aid center in Beijing closed

By Jiang Jie and Chen Heying Source:Global Times Published: 2016-2-2 0:33:20

A Beijing-based lawyer on Monday told the Global Times that her legal aid center specializing in women's rights was ordered closed by police, saying it could be due to suspected ties to overseas funds.

Guo Jianmei, the founder and director of the Beijing Zhongze Women's Legal Counseling and Service Center, said the center was closed at the request of Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau, adding that the request may have resulted from funds that come from overseas organizations.

Founded in 1995 and formerly attached to the Peking University, the center had been receiving funding from the Ford Foundation since its establishment. It was receiving over 1 million yuan ($152,000) a year, the Guangzhou-based The Time Weekly reported in 2010.

US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Sunday voiced her support for Guo on Twitter.

Guo confirmed that the authorities demanded that the center be closed down before the Spring Festival, which falls on February 8 this year.

Between 1995 and 2011, the center offered legal services to some 80,000 cases, including marriage counseling as labor rights, and represented poor Chinese women free of charge in over 3,000 lawsuits, according to the center's website.

It received national media coverage when it assisted the case of Deng Yujiao, who stabbed an official to death and injured another in self defense, in an alleged sexual assault incident in 2009.

Guo became the first Chinese winner of the 2011 International Women of Courage Award, and also received the Global Women's Leadership Award from Clinton in 2007.

According to a report from Caixin Magazine, beginning January 1, 2015, NGOs in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province are required to report to the authorities 15 days before obtaining overseas funds.

The new regulation also requires authorities to de-register branches of overseas NGOs or agencies under the control of overseas organizations. The regulation said that agencies whose main sources of funding come from overseas will be subjected to the rules above.

Posted in: Politics, Society

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