Human rights activist Ni Yulan has been forcibly evicted from a house she was renting. Deprived of their belongings, Ni and her husband have been camping out at a Beijing police station for ten days.

Around 10:40pm on April 15 – around a week after they moved into a new home in central Beijing’s Dongcheng district – around 30 people arrived at the house. Ni, her husband and daughter were forcibly dragged out to the yard and stuffed into a van, Ni told HKFP.

They were kept in the van until they were dumped at an unfamiliar location at around 1am, when they called the police, she said. She added that all three sustained injuries from the kidnapping. The family returned to the rented house to find that the lock had been changed and all their belongings had disappeared, she said.

Ni Yulan in 2015. File photo: HKFP.

“We don’t have anything right now,” Ni said. “No ID documents, or money. We were barefoot, dragged away from our beds.”

She said she has been wearing the same pyjamas for ten days, and that she and her husband are living off food that friends bring them.

Ni, a former lawyer, has twice been jailed after giving legal advice to Beijing residents whose homes had been slated for demolition. She became handicapped after being tortured by police.

‘Fake landlord’

On April 12, the agent and two others threatened to take their belongings if they did not move out by the morning of April 15, a message written by Ni’s husband Dong Jiqin said. They broke the electricity meter on the house and were summoned by police for questioning after Dong contacted the emergency services.

The next day, the same agent returned to remove the doors and windows and cut the telephone line, internet and water supply. Dong called the police again, but police brought him to the station as the group continued their actions.

The agent and landlord were behind the eviction, Ni claimed, using the terms “black agent” and “fake landlord.” She said she paid them around 40,000 RMB for 14 months of rent, but they were only refunded with 7,000 RMB after agreeing to move out.

“We don’t have the ability to rent a house anymore, so now we’re in a dilemma.”

“My biggest wish is that the Andingmen police will get back our belongings as soon as possible, and return my ID and hukou documents and the cash [paid for rent] to us – then my husband and I can live a normal life.”

Ni Yulan and her husband Dong Jiqin camped out at the police station. Photo: Ni Yulan.

Ni and her husband have been taking shelter at the Andingmen police station since. The agent and landlord have not been held accountable by the police, according to Ni. She accused the police of treating them unfairly by not investigating the case and of condoning the actions of the landlord and agent.

“The police station doesn’t care whether we live or die,” she said. She added that an American diplomat talked to the foreign ministry about their situation, which led to two officers coming to the station and asking the police to find a solution, but she felt they were still dragging things out.

A man at the Andingmen police station denied to HKFP through the phone that Ni and Dong were staying at the police station. He said he did not know when asked how the police were handling their case.


In a message sent at the beginning of April, Ni told HKFP that plain-clothed police tried to prevent her family from renting a new home in the Xicheng district of central Beijing by standing in front of the accommodation they had found to physically block them from moving in.

Since the demolition of her own house, Ni and her family were forced to move from place to place in central Beijing. They face frequent harassment from authorities, and her family has been forced to move several times.

A friend visiting Ni at the police station. Photo: Ni Yulan.

“No matter where we go to rent a house, we meet with suppression and all kinds of unfair treatment,” Ni said. “This time was the most severe… we have nothing right now, not even the basics to survive.”

When asked why she refuses to leave Beijing, Ni said: “I am a old Beijinger – I had my own private house, which was forcibly demolished during the Olympics.”

Ni previously received the Human Rights Tulip award from the Dutch government. She was barred from leaving the country to accept the International Women of Courage award in Washington last year.

Catherine Lai

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.