Submission to UN on Ni Yulan – August 13, 2010

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Communiqué Alleging Torture, Arbitrary Detention, Forced Eviction, Harassment and Intimidation of Human Rights Defender Ni Yulan, Citizen of the People’s Republic of China

TO: Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment


Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing as a Component of the Right to an Adequate Standard of Living, and on the Right to Non-discrimination in this Context;


Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders


I. Identity of human rights defender

a. Family name: Ni (倪)
b. First name: Yulan (玉兰)
c. Gender: female
d. Birth date: March 24, 1960.
e. Nationality: People’s Republic of China
f. Profession: Ms Ni used to be a lawyer but her license was formally revoked when she was convicted in 2002.

II. Status of the victim as a human rights defender

Ms Ni worked as a lawyer in Beijing between 1986 and 2002. Ms Ni started her human rights activism in 2001, when she represented a woman and filed an administrative litigation lawsuit against the Xicheng District government in Beijing. The woman alleged that the death of her father, a Falun Gong practitioner, was the result of torture while held in police detention in Beijing.

Ms. Ni then became involved in defending the rights of victims of forced evictions after Beijing was awarded host of the 2008 Olympics in 2001. As more and more Beijing residents were forcibly evicted and their homes demolished to make way of the Games, Ni started to help the evictees by drawing attention to their plight and mobilizing others to show their support to the victims.

Even though Ni has suffered retaliation for her human rights activism since 2002, she continues to help victims of forced eviction and petitioners in Beijing. She uses her legal knowledge to advise them, editing their petitioning materials, and giving them advice on their strategies.

III. Alleged violation/s committed against the victim

Since 2002, Ms Ni has suffered repeated arbitrary detention, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, intimidation and harassment, and her home was forcibly demolished in 2008 as the policemen in Beijing’s Xicheng District retaliate against her for her human rights activism. Ms Ni’s case requires immediate international attention as the persecution against her are not only egregious but also ongoing—Ms Ni and her husband are both homeless, she suffers from constant harassment and monitoring, and was briefly detained twice since her release from imprisonment in April 2010.

April 2002
On April 27, 2002, a family in Ms Ni’s neighbourhood was forcibly evicted. In addition to organizing a large group of supporters who turned up to show their solidarity with the victims, Ms Ni also secretly took pictures during the eviction. However, she was discovered by a couple of officials from the Xicheng District Demolition and Relocation Office, who pushed her to the ground, twisting her ankle, seized her camera and exposed the film. A group of policemen from Beijing Public Security Bureau (PSB) Xicheng Sub-division Xinjiekou Police Station then forcibly dragged her away to the police vehicle, where they rough-handled her and drove her to Xinjiekou Police Station. In the police station, Ni was tortured for 15 hours during a 53-hour detention:

● She was tied tightly with a thick rope, her arms was bent back with palms pointing upwards in a painful position. The policemen then pulled the rope upwards to produce extreme strain on her arms, wrist and shoulders;
● Six policemen held her down flat onto the floor. They pressed and hit hard using their knees and elbows on various spots along her spine;
● The policemen also used a broken cup with which they cut her thigh;
● They stripped her;
● The policemen put her leg up on top of the back of a long bench, so the leg was suspended from the ankle, and they would use their feet to press hard downwards on her knee;
● They also insulted her.

Following torture, Ni was then sent to 10 days of administrative detention for “taking pictures at the site of compulsory eviction” and “yelling and crying out loud at the office” and thus ‘seriously disrupted order” at the police station. Ni was eventually released after 75 days of detention.

September 2002-end of 2003
On September 27, 2002, Ni was again detained in the Xinjiekou police station for complaining about her torture to higher authorities, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee. Ms Ni was subjected to the following cruel and degrading treatment:

● Tied to an iron chair and unable to move for three days;
● Not given anything to eat or drink;
● Beaten;
● Insulted.

Ni was then convicted of “obstructing official order”, sentenced and imprisoned for one year on November 27, 2002. Ms Ni served her sentence in Xicheng District Detention Center in Beijing. Her health deteriorated and gradually lost her ability to walk due to a lack of treatment, lack of exercise (she was only given one crutch so she was unable to walk or exercise) and poor conditions. Ni described the conditions in the detention center:

● Forty people were crammed in a small cell, where they had to sleep on the damp floor;
● The cell was so damp that there was green mould growing on the wall;
● They were given poor food and little to drink;

Between 2004 and 2008
Following her release from imprisonment, between 2004 and 2008, Ni and her family was under “soft detention” by the Beijing police. Police stationed at her home and monitored them, interfered with their freedom of movement and required visitors to present their IDs when they visited. Ni’s family and friends were also harassed if she attempted to visit them with the aid of her husband.

April 2008- April 2010
On April 15, 2008, the police from Xicheng District PSB, together with a group of unidentified men, came to demolish Ni’s home. When Ni confronted the police and demanded that they show the relevant legal documents, a policeman picked up a brick and hit her. Ni was then taken into Xinjiekou police station, where policemen beat her for “fun”:

● They grabbed her legs and threw her against the edge of a wooden sofa;
● They then ordered her to crawl;
● A guard kicked her lower belly;
● One policeman urinated on her;
● They verbally insulted her.

Ni was then sent from the police station to the Xicheng District Detention Center, where she was detained for “obstructing official business.” Ni was subjected to more degrading treatment in the detention center:

● She was held together with people with infectious diseases (e.g. tuberculosis) and had to share eating utensils with them;
● She was later subjected to solitary confinement;
● She was denied medical treatment. Her injured head was not treated or inspected by doctors. She said her ability to speak was affected after her head injuries;
● She was interrogated even when she was in a very poor condition. She was made to sit for hours, during which they would read aloud the statement they had prepared for her, and she was not allowed to leave unless she signed it;
● Ni said they took about three bowls of blood from her every week, but she was not told why blood was taken.

Ni was convicted of “obstructing official business” and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment on December 18, 2008. Ms Ni first served her terms in Beijing Tianhe Prison, where:

● The prisoners had to sleep on the floor;
● They had very little water;
● They were held together with people with infectious disease.

Ms Ni was then sent to Beijing Muncipal Women’s Prison in May 2009, where she was subjected to torture and mistreatment. Ni was made to write a confession to her “crime” but she refused, and as a result, she was treated particularly harshly in prison:

● She was made to crawl from the 5th floor to the ground floor every day. Ni stressed how cruel it was: in Beijing, where summer temperatures are high, she sometimes had to crawl for over 6 hours covering a distance of 1,000 meters. Her hands developed many blisters as a result of crawling on hot and rough grounds.
● She was forced to work over 12 hours a day without pay. The inmates were forced to package disposable chopsticks, which were coated with chemicals that inflamed their skin and had slivers of wood poking out injuring their fingers. The guards monitored and insulted the inmates and threatened them with electric batons. The prison set a quota of 11,000 pairs of chopsticks a day but Ni only managed to pack 2,000. If they were slow, which Ni often was, they were punished by being held in solitary confinement in a dark cell, where their hands and legs were locked to a stationary object in the middle of the cell, bitten by insects that gave them diseases and sometimes deprived of food;
● She was sometimes deprived of sleep;
● The inmates were given very little water and poor food;
● She was made to kneel;
● Once, she was taken somewhere in the public where she was made to crawl on the ground with her hands and legs cuffed as a form of public humiliation.

April 15, 2010
Ms Ni was released on April 15, 2010. Because her home was demolished without compensation, the couple has no home to return to. All their belongings were also confiscated during the demolition. Since April 28 they have been living on the street in Beijing’s Dongcheng District. They have to live on the street because the policemen pressured hostel owners not to rent space to them. Ms Ni and her family continue to suffer constant monitoring and harassment by the Beijing police and Ms Ni was briefly detained twice since her release:

● Around 3 a.m. on the morning of May 27, Ms Ni and her husband were seized by Xicheng District police and taken to a hotel near the Changqiao police station. They were released around 12 noon the same day.
● Shortly after 1am on June 15, police in Beijing detained Ms Ni and her husband, taking them to the Donghuamen police station in Beijing’s Dongcheng District. The police released the couple around 4 am as more and more netizens came to the police station demanding their release after hearing about their detention on the internet. The police said they held the couple in the police station for their own “safety,” but showed no legal documents to justify the action.

As a result of the torture and cruel treatment Ms Ni was subjected to, she suffers from:

● Poor balance;
● Broken teeth;
● Inability to walk due to deformed bones at ankles, back and knees;
● Scars on fingers and arms;
● Heart and breathing problems due to deformed chest bone;
● Difficulties in defecation. After the policemen kicked her lower belly in 2002, she lost control of her urine and faeces. Although she has somewhat recovered, she still cannot defecate without the aid of medication

IV. Perpetrators:

Policemen in Xinjiekou police station in Beijing’s Xicheng District were allegedly the main perpetrators of violence and mistreatment against Ms Ni.

The following officials were identified as those who allegedly tortured Ms Ni in April 2002: the then-head of police station Xie Liguo (谢立国), policemen Bian Weidong (卞卫东), Zhao Yujing (赵玉京), Cheng Guangyuan (程光远), Shi Jianqing (石建兴) and Chen Yu (陈宇). The following were identified as those who tortured and mistreated her in September 2002: Liu Junjie (刘俊杰) and Yan Xiujian (闫修建).

The following policemen were identified as having forcibly demolished the home of Ms Ni and her husband, fabricated evidences against her and tortured her in April 2008: head of police station Xiao Wei (肖巍), policeman Wen Anwei (文安伟) and Li Nan (李楠).

The following prison officials are believed to be responsible for Ni’s torture and mistreatment in Beijing Muncipal Women’s Prison: head of prison Li Ruihua (李瑞华) and head of prison district He Yun (何云).

It is believed that members of the Xicheng District Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Political-Legal Committee, as well as officials in Xicheng District PSB, the Procuratorate and the court have been involved in framing her and convicting her based on baseless charges, leading to her arbitrary detentions, and for denying appropriate treatment to her while detained and imprisoned.

V. Action by authorities:

Ms Ni has repeatedly reported to and petitioned the relevant government authorities regarding the retaliation against her by Xicheng District authorities.

However, to date, no investigation has been launched and no one has been held legally accountable for committing those violations described in this communiqué. Ni has either received no response or has been told that she deserves the treatment. For example, when she reported the torture in Beijing Muncipal Women’s Prison to the head of the prison, she received no response. In July 2008, when Ni complained to a procuratorator while held in the Xicheng District Detention Center, the official told Ni that she deserved to be beaten by the police because she kept complaining about the officials.

Not only were the officials not punished for their behavior, Ms Ni said she learned that officials responsible for seizing her camera in April 2002 and those responsible for torturing her in April 2002 and in 2008 have been promoted.

Fellow activists and petitioners in China have mobilized to supply Ni and her husband with food and necessities such as tents and clothes. They have also kept each other informed about Beijing police’s ongoing harassment of her and her family, and have mobilized to demand her release in June 2010 when she was briefly detained by the police.

Human rights organizations such as CHRD have been helping Ms Ni by providing her with legal and humanitarian aid and publicizing her situation by issuing press releases and updates about her situation.

VI. Link between the violation and human rights work:

Ms Ni first earned the ire of the policemen in Beijing’s Xicheng District when she filed the administrative litigation lawsuit against the government in 2001. At the time, no lawyer was defending Falun Gong practitioners because it was too “sensitive.” Also, the lawsuit led to the demotion of some policemen in Xicheng District, who harbored hatred against Ms Ni because of her role in the lawsuit (please keep information in the last sentence confidential).

In 2002, when Ms Ni became active in assisting victims of forced evictions, policemen in Xicheng District grew even more hostile towards her. The beatings and detentions in April 2002 were the direct result of Ni’s human rights activism—it was a punishment against her taking pictures at the site of forced eviction to gather evidence for the victims, as well as her filing the lawsuit in 2001. During the beating of April 2002, the policemen yelled at her while hitting her that she should not have “minded other people’s business.”

Since the first beating and detention in April 2002, the torture and mistreatment directed at Ni has snowballed. As she suffered torture, detention and other forms of mistreatment at the hands of the Xicheng District police, and as she complained about it to higher authorities, the police resented her even more, and subjected her to yet another round of retaliation. This cycle can only be broken when the perpetrators are held legally accountable.

Between Ms Ni’s periods of detentions and imprisonments, she continues to help victims of forced eviction and petitioners in Beijing, which also draws anger from the police in Xicheng District.


See more UN work on case of Ni Yulan:

Ni Yulan Case: PR China Replies to UN & CHRD Response (May 28, 2012)

Communiqué on behalf of Ni Yulan, citizen of People’s Republic of China, Alleging Arbitrary Arrest or Detention and Persecution of Human Rights Defenders, July 6, 2011

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