Gender rights activist Ye Haiyan freed then hounded by hostile crowd

Woman detained after protests over sex abuse at primary school in Wanning is evicted after getting a hostile reception following her release

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 June, 2013, 11:20am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

A gender rights activist was released from detention in Guangxi yesterday morning only to be met by a protesting crowd and an eviction order.

"I have taken a very difficult path and a lonely one too," Ye Haiyan said. "It's bumpy and tiring as I'm constantly being driven away whenever I go."

I have taken a very difficult path and a lonely one too. It's bumpy and tiring as I'm constantly being driven away whenever I go

Ye, the 38-year-old chairwoman of the China Grass-roots Women's Rights Centre was released at 7am after being detained since May 30.

She was accused of assaulting three women who stormed into her apartment with a handful of people after she returned from a protest in Wanning , Hainan , against a spate of sexual assaults targeting primary school pupils.

She also started an online campaign that attracted massive support.

Local authorities issued a detention order on May 31, ordering Ye to be put under 13 days of administrative detention. The women who stormed into her flat were set free. "I think the whole attack and detention was a plot to intimidate me for my activism against sexual abuse targeting young girls," Ye said.

Video: Gender rights activist Ye Haiyan asks for respect for NGOs from the Chinese government in a statement to SCMP.

Around 8.30am, several dozen people surrounded her apartment, calling Ye a whore and demanding she leave Bobai county. The crowd soon grew to more than 100, with some people holding up four insulting red banners. The crowd dispersed about half an hour later.

Ye's relatives also made multiple calls warning her to leave Bobai county before sunset to avoid trouble. Her landlord also told her to leave the two-bedroom apartment she has been renting for 350 yuan (HK$440) a month for the past two years. "The Bobai authorities couldn't stand up to the pressure so they tried to get rid of me," she said. "The police here want to turn this into a conflict between me and the local people. They are totally oblivious to what's going on out there in the public arena.

"What worse thing could they have done? They sacrificed their credibility as an authority figure but for what? To publicly fabricate evidence just to go against a civilian? What good could come of that?"

Ye said her detention was wrongful in the first place. "It's ridiculous and funny that my attacker claimed to be hurt by me and provided an injury report, even though I was the one being attacked," she said.

"These women didn't even bleed, there were at most red marks from scuffles during my self-defence. I'm the victim here. Why would the police only cuff me and set my attackers free?"

Ye's lawyers are seeking to overturn the 13-day administrative detention order imposed by the county's Public Security Bureau, saying it was illegal.

"Without public attention, she would have been detained for a lot longer," said Beijing lawyer Wang Yu . "Bobai police have been too used to treating the public with brutal means. They even tried to confiscate our mobile phones and detain us."

Last month, Ye and some lawyers held cardboard placards in front of a Wanning primary school whose principal has been charged with raping six girls. They urged perverted teachers to leave pupils alone and posted photos of their campaign online, attracting massive support.

"I need to thank all the internet users for the support," Ye said. "Their support accounted for every bit of kind treatment I received during my detention."

Ye previously set up a volunteer centre in the heart of the county's red-light district, which is just a three-minute walk from a bus terminal packed with travellers from the countryside.

Five to 10 prostitutes - all at least 40 years old - worked in each of 20 nearby apartments nearby, offering services to an estimated 10 to 12 customers a day for 10 yuan each. Volunteers from her centre performed outreach services, handing out condoms and encouraging the prostitutes to get tests for sexually transmitted diseases.

However, the initiative was not well-received by the local authorities and the centre was forced to shut down in May last year.