Case History: Ye Heiyan
Ye Haiyan has been subjected to harassment, detentions, slander and travel bans because of her work.
Ye Haiyan is a defender of women's rights who has highlighted the working conditions of sex workers, the sexual abuse of children and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS.
Over the past six weeks human rights defender Ms Ye Haiyan has been subjected to a prolonged campaign of harassment and intimidation which has forced her and her partner and daughter to leave their home, first in Guangxi province, and subsequently Guangdong province.
On 6 July 2013 Ye Haiyan, her boyfriend, Ling Haobo and her 14 year-old daughter were forced to leave a home they had been renting in Zhongshan, Guangdong province by the Zhongshan authorities. The three were left on a roadside early that morning with their belongings packed into cardboard boxes. Mr Ling reported on his microblog that local police had threatened him, saying “Zhongshan does not welcome you; Guangzhou does not welcome you either. I will break your legs if I ever see you again in Zhongshan”. According to Yaxue Cao, a US-based writer and activist, Ye Haiyan attempted to stay in the apartment of friend and fellow human rights defender Ms Ai Xiaoming in Guangzhou city that night but was prevented from doing so by a group of men who blocked her at the entrance to the apartment. Eventually Ye Haiyan's daughter was permitted to stay in the apartment while Ye Haiyan and Ling Haobo were forced to look for accommodation elsewhere.
This incident is the latest in a series of steps taken to target Ye Haiyan since she initiated a protest in late May to highlight the sexual abuse of school children . During that month she travelled to Hainan province where she protested outside a school whose principal had taken six primary schoolgirls to a hotel room and, along with a local government official, reportedly abused them over a two-day period. The two were later arrested, though local authorities were accused of seeking to minimise the incident. Ye Haiyan stood outside the school concerned with a placard saying, “Principal, get a room with me and leave the schoolchildren alone”. News of her protest spread rapidly online and inspired hundreds of other internet users to post pictures of themselves with similar placards.
Following her return to Guangxi province, on 30 May 2013 Ye Haiyan was assaulted in her home by a group of women. In an effort to defend herself and her daughter, she used a knife to fight off her attackers, reportedly injuring three of them. Ye Haiyan was then arrested and placed in 13 days' administrative detention. Front Line Defenders sent an urgent appeal and an update on the two incidents, on 31 May 2013 and on 4 June 2013 respectively. Upon Ye Haiyan's release, she continued to be subjected to intimidation and harassment. In June she was forced to leave her home after being evicted by her landlord, following an escalation in the campaign against her. She then moved to Zhongshan in Guangdong province, where her child was refused permission to enroll in school and finally, electricity to her apartment was cut.
Front Line Defenders believes that the campaign of intimidation and harassment against Ye Haiyan and her family are directly related to her peaceful and legitimate activities in defence of human rights, in particular women's and children's rights. Front Line Defenders is concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Ye Haiyan and her family, particularly in the light of the reports of threats made against them by local police officers.
Following her arrest and detention in Bobai County, Guangxi Province on 30 May 2013, human rights defender Ms Ye Haiyan has been ordered to serve 13 days' administrative detention. Administrative detention is a punishment which can be handed down by police without judicial involvement for acts which 'violate administration of public security' but which are not deemed serious enough for criminal punishment.
Ye Haiyan is an advocate for the rights of sex workers and people living with HIV/AIDS. She has been consistently targeted over the past number of years because of her work. An application made by Ye Haiyan's lawyer for the suspension of the detention was reportedly rejected by police.
On 30 May 2013 Ye Haiyan was detained by police following an altercation with a group of women who stormed into her home and attacked her in front of her 13 year old daughter. In order to defend herself and her daughter the human rights defender used a knife to drive her attackers away, reportedly injuring three in the process. For further information on this case, please see the urgent appeal issued by Front Line Defenders on 31 May 2013.
On 30 May 2013, human rights defender Ms Ye Haiyan was detained by police after being assaulted at her home in Guangxi province. Ye Haiyan is an advocate for the rights of sex workers and people living with HIV/AIDS. She has been consistently targeted over the past number of years because of her work.
Just before 12pm on 30 May 2013, a group of plainclothes women arrived at Ye Haiyan's home in Bobai County and began to physically attack her. Ye Haiyan was alone with her 13-year-old daughter at the time and managed to send out a series of messages on Twitter appealing for help and asking her followers to report the incident to the police. In a subsequent message she wrote that the police had not shown up and that she thought the attackers must have been sent by the local government. In an effort to defend herself and her daughter she used a knife to drive her attackers away, reportedly injuring three of them in the process. Shortly thereafter she was taken into custody by police and is being detained on suspicion of 'causing intentional injury'.
It is believed that the attack on Ye Haiyan was an attempt to silence her following the recent launch of an online campaign protesting a number of cases of child abuse, and which quickly gained huge public support. Ye Haiyan had recently returned from Hainan province where she had protested outside a school whose principal had taken six primary schoolgirls to a hotel room and, along with a local government official, reportedly abused them over a two-day period. The two have since been arrested, though local authorities were accused of seeking to minimise the incident. Ye Haiyan stood outside the school concerned with a placard saying, “Principal, get a room with me and leave the schoolchildren alone”. News of her protest spread rapidly online and inspired hundreds of other internet users to post pictures of themselves with similar placards.
Ye Haiyan has long been a staunch defender of women's rights and the rights of sex workers. In 2005 she began a website to advocate on behalf of sex workers and the following year she established a Women's Rights Centre in Wuhan province. In 2010 she organised a protest calling for an end to discrimination against sex workers and around this time she also began to be regularly questioned by police. In 2011 she set up a new NGO in Guangxi and in January 2012 she worked as a prostitute for a day and blogged about it afterwards in order to highlight the difficulties that sex workers face. In May of last year her NGO office in Guangxi was raided by eight plainclothes men who also reportedly attacked her. The human rights defender said after the attack that she presumed the men had been sent by the local government.
Front Line Defenders is seriously concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Ye Haiyan, as well as that of her family members. Front Line Defenders believes that this most recent attack on Ye Haiyan was prompted by her peaceful and legitimate work in defence of human rights, particularly her actions taken to highlight cases of child abuse in China. It is felt that her current detention is a denial of her right to self-defence as enshrined by international law, as well as Article 20 of the Criminal Procedure Law of China which states that “If a person acts in defence against an ongoing assault...that seriously endangers his personal safety, thus causing injury or death to the perpetrator of the unlawful act, it is not undue defence, and he shall not bear criminal responsibility.”