Posted by Alice Xin Liu on Wednesday, July 7, 2010 at 7:10 PM
Ni Yulan, photo from Southern People Weekly
The lawyer Ni Yulan (倪玉兰) has been making the rounds on microblogs and the magazine world. Her story began when Beijing successfully won the bid to host the 2008 Olympics － and the municipal government promptly started to 'beautify' the city by razing houses and independently owned property.
Then working part-time for the China International Trading Corporation (中国国际贸易总公司), Ni took on sensitive cases for petitioners and those who rebelled against the forced demolition of their homes. Jailed twice for her actions, and paralyzed from police beatings, she was released from jail in April 2010. Ironically, her own house in Xicheng district had been razed, and together with her husband, Dong Jiqin (董继勤), they were left homeless. An independent filmmaker has chronicled the couple's time staying at the Huangchenggen heritage park (皇城根遗产公园).
June issue of SPW
In the June issue of Southern People Weekly (南方人物周刊), its Beijing correspondent went to the park to visit Ni, and wrote a story about her that has supposedly incurred the wrath of the CPC's Publicity Department (中宣部), which has supposedly been seeking a way to punish the magazine and the writer. Part of the article is translated below, the beginnings of some paragraphs are Ni's diary entries.
Ni Yulan's past few monthsby Yang Xiao (杨萧) / SPW
April 14, Wednesday, no rain
9:30am, I was called out of the prison cell to go to the meeting room in order to have my last check-up; they separated my crutches and they found the twelve letters of appeal and photos of when I was tortured, all of which I hid. I was stripped of the clothes I was wearing, including my underwear and socks, and I was thoroughly checked, until they were absolutely sure that nothing was hidden inside the clothes. Afterward I was allowed to put on my clothes again. After 40 minutes of this, they showed me the door. My partner, daughter and friends came to pick me up, they ran towards me and hugged me…. I have finally been reunited with my family.
This was the day Lawyer Ni Yulan was freed from jail. On that night, in a small hotel, she had her first hot shower in more than a year. On December 18, 2008, Beijing Xicheng District People’s Court sentenced her to two years imprisonment for “the crime of interference with public administration” (妨害公务罪), the term starting from the date of when she was detained, April 15 2008.
Ni Yulan said that on that day, a group of people gathered by the subsidiary bureau of Xicheng PSB, the Xinjiekou PSB, where her home was forcibly demolished without any legal process. When Ni Yulan, on her crutches, tried to reason with them, the police took her into a police car kicking and fighting, then she was taken into police custody.
From the side of public security, Ni Yulan used violence to obstruct workers, and caused light injuries to You Delin (尤德林) and Li Hongqiao (李鸿桥), and an investigation into her was commissioned by the Xinjiekou PSB. At 11 that day, at the No. 3 meeting room of the Xinjiekou PSB, Ni wasn’t cooperating with police management, kicked the lower half of officer Xiao Wei (肖巍), and caused harm to his testicles. She was captured on the spot.
Police records at the reception center of the Beijing Municipal PSB Command Center (北京市公安局110指挥中心) show that at the address of 19 Qianzhang hutong (前章胡同), “Police patrol cars were at the scene, and there was no fighting.” Because of this evidence, Dong Jiqin (董继勤), her husband, thinks she was framed.
In the independent filmmaker He Yang’s (何杨) documentary Emergency Escape Shelter (应急避难场所), Ni Yulan says to the camera: “After getting to the PSB, they locked me into a little dark room, and asked the security guard to beat me. After a while someone would come in, kick me, throw me from the floor to the sofa, then from the sofa into the corner. I asked to go to the bathroom, but I had to crawl there, otherwise it would be against the rules of the PSB.”
Ni Yulan lived at the little hotel for one day and then moved out; 120 yuan a night was too expensive. They found another little hotel with a communal bathroom that was only 50 yuan a day, the room was 6 square meters.
April 17, Saturday, cloudy
Today is the fourth day after my release. A few days ago the district police spoke to Dong, and he said: “The jail has sent the letter for my release to the Xicheng district government, but they still haven’t given any explanation for my house and my life.”
They have been homeless for a very long time. In November 2008, Ni’s house was razed to the ground. Now there are cranes on top of the spot and walls around it. In the past few days, many old friends have visited her, or to be more precise, they were old petitioners.
In 1986, Ni Yulan earned a Masters from China University of Political Science and Law (中国政法大学), and was assigned to a work unit in the central government, and at the same time she worked part-time at Justice Law Firm. In 1994, she was arranged again to go work as a legal consultant for the China International Trading Corporation (中国国际贸易总公司). From 2001, Ni Yulan represented sensitive cases. “No-one dared take on the cases, but the victims looked up my father － he’s an old lawyer from before liberation － and he said, even if I can’t persuade other people, don't you think I'd be able to persuade my own daughter? And how could I not listen to my father?”
Then the other relatives in the family called her, warning her against it. Everyone was afraid to contact her, otherwise they would be ‘investigated...’
To read the rest of the article (in Chinese), follow the link to the Southern People Weekly below.
Links and Sources
Jobs in China
Henry on The Eurasian Face
Caroline W on Big in China
Michael on Julia Lovell on translating Lu Xun's complete fiction: "His is an angry, searing vision of China"
Brandon K. on Clueless academic takes on popular fantasy novels
China Media Timeline
Major media events over the last three decades
Danwei Model Workers
The latest recommended blogs and new media
Books on China
The Eurasian Face : Blacksmith Books, a publishing house in Hong Kong, is behind The Eurasian Face, a collection of photographs by Kirsteen Zimmern. Below is an excerpt from the series:
Big in China: An adapted excerpt from Big In China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising A Family, Playing The Blues and Becoming A Star in China, just published this month. Author Alan Paul tells the story of arriving in Beijing as a trailing spouse, starting a blues band, raising kids and trying to make sense of China.
Pallavi Aiyar's Chinese Whiskers: Pallavi Aiyar's first novel, Chinese Whiskers, a modern fable set in contemporary Beijing, will be published in January 2011. Aiyar currently lives in Brussels where she writes about Europe for the Business Standard. Below she gives permissions for an excerpt.
Front Page of the Day
A different newspaper every weekday
From the Vault
Classic Danwei posts
+ Korean history doesn't fly on Chinese TV screens (2007.09): SARFT puts the kibbosh on Korean historical dramas.
+ Religion and government in an uneasy mix (2008.03): Phoenix Weekly (凤凰周刊) article from October, 2007, on government influence on religious practice in Tibet.
+ David Moser on Mao impersonators (2004.10): I first became aware of this phenomenon in 1992 when I turned on a Beijing TV variety show and was jolted by the sight of "Mao Zedong" and "Zhou Enlai" playing a game of ping pong. They both gave short, rousing speeches, and then were reverently interviewed by the emcee, who thanked them profusely for taking time off from their governmental duties to appear on the show.