A woman who killed her violent husband after months of abuse faces imminent execution after exhausting all appeals. Li Yan, aged 41 - whose repeated calls to the police for protection were ignored – could be put to death at any time.
Months of abuse
Li Yan’s ordeal began soon after she married in early 2009. Her husband, Tan Yong, beat her frequently. He stubbed out cigarettes on her face. He locked her, near-naked, on the balcony of their apartment for hours at a time during the freezing Sichuan winter.
On one occasion, he cut off her finger.
In late 2010, isolated, afraid and denied protection by the authorities, Li Yan resorted to violence and beat her husband to death with a gun.
We do not condone Li Yan’s actions, but we do believe that this tragic outcome could have been avoided. At one point, Li Yan was hospitalised as a result of the abuse. She sought protection from the police several times, and on one occasion they even photographed her injuries.
Yet none of the authorities with a duty to protect her followed up on her complaints, launched an investigation into her husband’s crimes or offered her any support.
Unsurprisingly the violence continued.
Li Yan was sentenced to death by the Ziyang City Intermediate People’s Court for intentional homicide on 24 August 2011. The verdict was upheld by the Sichuan Provincial Higher People’s Court on 20 August 2012. And her last appeal to the Supreme Court in Beijing was dismissed this month.
We are against the death penalty in any circumstances, for any crime. We believe that after everything Li Yan went through, to which witnesses have testified on her behalf, the Chinese authorities must change her sentence to one of life imprisonment.
Li Yan’s story also highlights the lack of support for victims of domestic violence in China, and the lack of legal avenues for requesting clemency – in contravention of international human rights law.
What will we do with your text?
- Urging them not to implement Li Yan’s death sentence;
- Calling on them to ensure that Li Yan has access to her family;
- Urging the National People’s Congress to introduce a legal procedure for requesting clemency in line with China’s obligations under international human rights law;
- Urging the Chinese authorities to take all allegations of domestic violence seriously, conduct effective investigations and, where there is sufficient admissible evidence, prosecute suspects in fair trials.
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