In Beijing, winter isn’t over yet. Temperature lows are still in the 30s. Ni Yulan is one of the tens of thousands of people whose home was destroyed in preparation for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. These people are still living without homes.
Yulan was given only a couple hours notice before her home was destroyed and in those few hours she resolved to fight back. Since then, Yulan has become an advocate for other displaced residents and has educated her neighbors about their rights.
“The government doing this is hurting their own people and it is extremely awful that they have covered up the problem like they have,” said first-year Saul Rodriguez.
Ni Yulan is an older woman with a kind face and shoulder-length hair. She sits in a wheelchair with a blanket adorned in cartoon characters wrapped around her legs to shield her from the cold. After seeing Yulan in pictures, it’s hard to believe that she has caused such uproar that the Chinese government has been harassing her for the past 20 years.
After taking notice of her activism, the Chinese government has gotten her evicted from every home she’s had, leaving her permanently homeless. They have also used the criminal justice system against her. Yulan has been fined multiple times and was given six months in prison in 2012 for “fraud” according to Human Rights in China, an organization that does case studies on human rights violations in China.
Yulan has also faced torture at the hands of the Chinese criminal justice system. The Chinese police tortured Yulan to the point where her feet were broken beyond repair and her kneecaps were smashed. It’s why she uses a wheelchair. To this day, Yulan is targeted by the Chinese government for her work in disability and housing rights.
Helping Yulan can be as simple as a letter addressed to Director Wang Xiaohong, the director of Public Security for Beijing. Letters can also be written to Yulan in solidarity. Guilford College’s Amnesty International club has taken on Ni Yulan’s case, and student letters can be dropped off in Guilford College Amnesty’s mailbox in the OSLE.