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Free Chinese housing rights activist, Ni Yulan

Update 11/10/2013: Ni Yulan was released from prison on 5 October. She has been reunited with her family including her husband, Dong Jiqin.

She plans to sue Beijing's Xicheng District Public Security Bureau for holding her and her husband in detention in a hotel between June 2010 and April 2011. They are also continuing to fight for compensation after  their home was demolished just before the Beijing Olympics in 2008. 
Over the 18 years she has been practising law, Ni Yulan has taken on many politically sensitive cases of people protesting the demolition of their homes. For this, she and her family have paid a high price.

At the moment, she is serving a two and a half year prison sentence for ‘picking quarrels and provoking trouble’. It is the third time she has been held for months at a time, and the latest episode in a long-running campaign of harassment intended to silence her. Background: harassment of human rights lawyers in China

Ni Yulan suffers from heart, digestive and breathing problems and cannot walk due to previous police torture. She has been stripped of her licence to practise law and has previously been forced to live on the street. Yet she has continued her work to defend human rights and provide legal aid. Please add your name to our petition for this brave woman and her vital work against often violent and always unjust forced evictions in China.

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We're continuing to work with Ni Yulan and many other human rights defenders in China.
Right now, we're asking you to send a letter to human rights lawyer Gao Zhiseng

Beaten so badly she still uses a wheelchair

In 2002, Ni Yulan was arrested while filming the demolition of a home in Beijing. She was taken to a police station where she was tortured for several days, during which time her feet and kneecaps were broken. Her injuries were so severe that she still uses a wheelchair.

Stripped of her licence to practise law

Ni Yulan went to the authorities about the beatings, but was arrested for ‘obstructing official business’ and sentenced to a year in prison. She also lost her licence to practise law.

However, on her release from prison she continued to fight for the rights of people whose homes faced demolition ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She was put in prison for another two years, during which time she was tortured and denied medical care.

Forced from her home, and her friends’ homes

On her release in 2010, Ni Yulan and her husband Dong Jiqan were both homeless. The police forced them from the hotel they were staying in, and blocked them from renting a place or even staying with friends. Eventually, after supporters held a demonstration, they were moved to a guesthouse where they were kept under surveillance and had their electricity, water and internet access cut off.

Sentenced for ‘picking quarrels’

Ni Yulan spent most of her court appearance in December 2011 lying down, needing a respirator to breathe. On 10 April this year, she was sentenced for the crime of ‘picking quarrels and provoking trouble’ (article 293 of China’s Criminal Law), as was her husband; and for ‘fraud’. The fraud sentence was overturned at an appeal in July, but the sentence of ‘provoking trouble’ was upheld. 

Background: daring to practise human rights law

Forced evictions are on the rise in China as local authorities attempt to offset their debts by selling off land, with little regard to the people living on it. Methods used by local authorities and developers to get residents to move out including cutting off water and heating, and hiring gangs of thugs armed with steel rods and knives.

For more on forced evictions in China, read our blog: China's eviction epidemic

Lawyers are reluctant to take on clients challenging evictions or seeking justice, for fear of the repercussions. The government has a whole range of tactics to silence lawyers and legal activists who take on cases that deal with human rights, from suspending their licences to harassment, forced disappearance or even torture. 

As a result only a brave few hundred people out of 204,000 lawyers in China will deal with sensitive cases. They include people like Chen Guangcheng, Gao Zhisheng – and of course, Ni Yulan.

What happens to your text?

We will add your name, but not your phone number, to this petition which we’ll send to the Chinese authorities:

We are writing to express our concern at the increase in violent forced evictions in China. We are particularly concerned about the silencing tactics that lawyers and activists are subjected to when working to support communities that are facing forced evictions. This includes the imprisonment of housing rights activist and former lawyer Ni Yulan and her husband Dong Jiqin.

We urge you to:

  • Immediately and unconditionally release Ni Yulan and Dong Jiqin. Ensure that human rights defenders are able to carry out their peaceful work without fear of hindrance, intimidation, arbitrary detention of imprisonment;
  • Immediately halt all forced evictions and ensure adequate safeguards are put in place in line with international law
  • Develop and adopt concrete and effective measures to guarantee a minimum degree of security of tenure to the entire population, sufficient at least to protect them from forced eviction and other threats and harassment.
  • Ensure that all victims of forced evictions have access to independent and impartial adju

Prefer to post your own letter?

Please use the petition text above as a guide, and post your letter to:

President of the People’s Republic of China

HU Jintao Guojia Zhuxi

The State Council General Office

2 Fuyoujie, Xichengqu,

Beijingshi 100017

People’s Republic of China

Salutation: Your Excellency

Premier of the People’s Republic of China

WEN Jiabao Guojia Zongli

The State Council General Office

2 Fuyoujie, Xichengqu,

Beijingshi 100017,

People's Republic of China

Salutation: Your Excellency

Chairperson of the National People’s Congress

WU Bangguo Weiyuanzhang

Quanguo Renmin Daibiao Dahui

Renmin Dahuitang

Beijingshi 100805

People's Republic of China

Fax: +86 10 6596 1109 (c/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Salutation: Your Excellency

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[comment edited by moderator]

scosudan 11 years ago

I hope Ni Yulan will be released soon and that she will receive help and support. We need more Ni Yulan and we need to protect her and people like her.

lamary78 11 years ago

Why is Amnesty International making more complicate to support a cause?
I have been supporting AI economically to avoid them using this "emotional blackmail" and now I see this kind of "send a SMS to support the cause and then we will spam you by SMS".
I highly support AI causes but I am every time further of their methods to find support.

Fernando Hidalgo 11 years ago

Hi Fernando, thanks for your feedback. We know that not everyone will want to text, so you can post your own letter - everything you need is just above the comments.

EmersonStaff 11 years ago