Yulan became known for her human rights work in 2001. Her neighborhood in Beijing was scheduled to be demolished as the country prepared to host the 2008 Olympics. This demolition would leave several citizens without a home with no compensation from the government. Yulan teamed up with other activists to fight the government’s actions. However, she was quickly arrested while she was filming some of the unlawful demolition work. Her punishment was a brutal prison sentence that left her confined to a wheelchair. Despite becoming permanently disabled because of the brutal police action, Yulan continued her human rights work. After another arrest and prison sentence, Yulan was let out of prison to find herself a victim of unlawful eviction. Forced to live in a tent with her husband, she continued to fight against the Chinese government.
China continued their crackdowns on dissent, which led to another arrest for Yulan. Charged with fraud, she was forced to sit out another prison sentence for “making trouble.” Her husband also faced charges and a prison sentence.
Despite her many arrests, her work as a human rights activist in China has not gone unnoticed. In 2011, the government of the Netherlands gave Yulan the Human Rights Defender Tulip. This award is given out each year to someone who is doing outstanding work for the advancement of human rights. Yulan was also bestowed with the International Women of Courage award in 2016. This prestigious honor is presented by the United States Department of State to women that display an exceptional level of courage in the face of adversity. Ironically, Yulan was barred from leaving China and was not allowed to travel to the United States to receive her award in person. In an effort to further oppress Yulan and her husband, the pair was denied a passport. Yulan also explains that they were once again evicted from their rental property and physically assaulted.
"Some of them started beating up my husband, another group rushed into the interior of our home and started flinging out items," Yulan told BBC. "After beating my husband they dragged him out to the courtyard entrance where they continued to beat him and stomped on him with their feet."
Not only were they brutally beaten, but their belongings and money were taken from them. Yet another instance of mistreatment from the police simply because she was choosing to stand up for her rights. After repeated malicious police attacks, unlawful arrests and forced evictions, Yulan did not give up the fight against the oppressive Chinese government.
“We don’t have anything right now,” Yulan explains, according to the Hong Kong Free Press. “No ID documents, or money. We were barefoot, dragged away from our beds. We don’t have the ability to rent a house anymore, so now we’re in a dilemma.”
As the couple fights to get their belongings back or some sort of compensation, they are living in the Andingmen police station. The couple refuses to leave the station until their complaint is heard. As the authorities refuse to accept their claims and risk uncovering their involvement, Yulan and her husband continue to stay out of protest. Surviving on food brought to them by friends and supporters, Yulan remains hopeful that they will find some sort of justice. Yulan also explained that they have been in touch with several diplomats, but a solution has still not been reached.
“No matter where we go to rent a house, we meet with suppression and all kinds of unfair treatment,” Yulan said. “This time was the most severe… we have nothing right now, not even the basics to survive.”
It’s not the first time of obvious censorship by the Communist Part of China (CPC). As China is a country ruled by a single party, CPC, any words or actions this party does not like are violently suppressed. Internet censorship is also systematically done every day, and people who criticize the CPC online are arrested. If the party becomes worried that inconvenient information may be spread online, pages including the relevant topics and words become inaccessible.
Religious suppression is still happening in the country as well. Suppression of Tibetan Buddhism continues even now, and the CPC only approves of Christian denominations that are under its control. Changing residence is not permitted, and even the right to receive a trial is limited. When Amnesty International investigated the number of executions conducted in the world, it found that over 90% of them were conducted in China. Just the other day, China, who has a lot of human rights problems, was condemned by Rex Tillerson with regard to suppressing the truth about Tiananmen Square.
Those are not the only tendencies that CPC intends to hide the truth. Regarding the Nanking massacre incident, which is said to have created a rift between China and Japan, a Japanese hotelier has insisted that this incident had never taken place in its book. This incident was said, by CPC, that the former Japanese troops killed 300,000 Nanking citizens 80 years ago, but the national media entity Xinhua acknowledges in its articles that Nanking Massacre was propaganda: Since China became the Republic of China, investigations of the Nanking massacre have been conducted with the intention of opposing the Japanese political right. That is, the Nanking incident is not a tragedy, but a tool of political warfare. If this incident were really a case, it is very rude to the victims.
Yulan’s story is a reminder of the Chinese Communist Party’s continuing repression of those fighting for human rights in the country. Everyday citizens in the country are faced with these injustices, such as unlawful evictions or violent arrests. Ironically, the people who choose to fight these violations of human rights are more likely to become victims of these very atrocities.
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