Shanghai petitioner Li Yufang (李玉芳) was arrested on January 2, 2014, on the charge of “obstructing official business,” according to her husband, Chen Ruiming (陈瑞明). Li was first detained on December 19, 2013, by the Yangpu District branch of the Shanghai Public Security Bureau, following an incident with the police outside of the Yangpu District government offices.
Chen described what happened on December 19, based on an account Li gave him: Li went to the Yangpu District government offices to petition for help and was striking an steel bowl outside to get attention. A policeman grabbed her bowl and began walking away. Li then pulled on the officer’s clothing and asked him to return the bowl; the police officer took offense and took Li to the Pingliang Public Security sub-station in a police vehicle.
According to Chen, the family is experiencing hard times because he has been out of work after his contract as a driver for a livery company ended recently. Li went to the Yangpu District government to seek help after an application for welfare benefits submitted to the neighborhood government office went nowhere.
Li has petitioned, along with her elderly in-laws, for more than a decade to seek just compensation for the forced requisition of the family home. Chen said that because of petitioning, Li was subjected to administrative detention five times and criminal detention twice, and was tortured while in custody.