Chinese Feminist 'Hooligan Sparrow' Faces Eviction by Beijing Authorities

china-hooligansparrow-01182017.jpg Feminist artist Ye Haiyan, known as Hooligan Sparrow (L), visits the home of poet Wang Zang, whose heating and electricity have been cut off, in an undated photo.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener.

Chinese artist and feminist Ye Haiyan, known as "Hooligan Sparrow," the eponymous subject of an award-winning documentary about her activism, is facing eviction from her home in Beijing's Songzhuang artists' village after she wrote an essay criticizing the Maoist left.

"The village party secretary has issued a final warning that I must move out immediately, or they will cut off the water and electricity and seal up the doors," Ye tweeted on Wednesday.

"So far no law enforcement agencies have put in an appearance, and the eviction order is being carried out by the highest-ranking village administrators," she wrote.

Ye had previously been issued with the threat of eviction if she didn't stop posting on social media, but she continued to send out tweets via Twitter on Wednesday.

"They want to silence me on [smartphone chat app] WeChat," she tweeted. "They even told me that China is ruled by law."

"Fine, I told them, you show me the law. My fear is that it's being broken right now by someone," she tweeted.

Earlier, Ye wrote that she had pleaded with the authorities not to use violence in front of her daughter, not to beat her up or smash her things.

She told RFA she believes the eviction order is linked to a political essay she posted on Jan. 13 titled "We should still speak our minds to our friends the Maoists."

"They blocked my WeChat account a few days ago," Ye told RFA. "It was probably because of my last article ... talking about Maoist attacks on liberal intellectuals."

"I called on them not to use violence to resolve the issue," she said.

Flash mob of Maoists

In her essay, Ye wrote: "You don't necessarily have personal experience of all of China's countless political movements, and you may not know the whole truth about them."

"You may be doing society a disservice, so ... I want to call on you to develop an independent standpoint ... regarding historical matters," the essay said.

"You can speak out if you have direct experience of historical events like the Cultural Revolution, about the part that you know about, but don't be too quick to dismiss the experience of others," she wrote.

Ye posted her essay after a flash mob of Maoists descended on a university campus in the eastern province of Shandong, attacking supporters of a university lecturer who criticized late supreme leader Mao Zedong.

The Shandong provincial government terminated the contract of Deng Xiangchao, a professor at the Shandong Jianzhu University, after he drew the ire of leftist "Mao fans" for retweeting a post satirizing the late Chairman.

"All I was doing was expressing my opinion," Ye told RFA. "But then they shut down my [social media] account, which made me very angry indeed."

Ye said the Songzhuang village ruling Communist Party secretary initially said she could stay if she stopped posting on social media, but she took issue with this diktat, and they moved ahead with her eviction order.

"I told them I wouldn't move, but I'll see what their next move is," she said.

Ye said she doesn't blame her landlord, who is under intense pressure from local government and police.

"I know that they are not behind this decision," she said. "I don't blame them ... they are vulnerable, too."

Poet faces harassment

Meanwhile, Beijing poet and political activist Wang Zang, who was detained in 2014 for posting a performance art selfie in support of Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement, is camping with his young family in their home after the authorities cut off the electricity and internet connection.

"They cut off the electricity, the internet and the central heating," Wang told RFA. "Today is the fourth day."

"We spend our evenings in darkness, and [we] huddle in the bedroom and put on extra clothes," he said, adding that the utilities were cut off after he refused to obey an eviction notice from the authorities.

"They told us on Jan. 11 that they'd cut everything off if we didn't move out," said Wang, who lives with his wife, a five-month-old baby and two other children.

"We can't move out ... we haven't the means to move out," he said. "We have already been forced to move eight times, so there's nowhere else for us to go."

"Wherever we go, they kick us out again. It's not just that they don't want us in Beijing; they evict us from other places too," he said. "We have nowhere left to go."

Wang has previously used performance art to show support for Ye's women's rights activism, detained Guangzhou rights lawyer Guo Feixiong, and to commemorate the execution of Mao-era dissident Lin Zhao.

Wang's poetry was cited as evidence to support the charges against him in 2014, including "Epitaph Without a Tombstone," a lament for uncounted numbers of unnamed Chinese citizens whose deaths are linked to government actions.

"The cemetery is a foreign import, where the corpses of the people lie, sending out random roots and shoots," the poem reads.

Wang has also expressed opinions through his accounts on Twitter and Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent, in support of jailed Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti, self-immolating Tibetans and followers of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement, which the authorities have designed an "evil cult."

800 million Maoists?

According to fellow poet Lu Yang, the Maoist left is a growing popular movement in China, in an era where around half the population have no access to information outside the party's official version of event.

"I think a large proportion of Chinese people have no real idea about what is happening," Lu said. "Out of 1.3 billion people, perhaps five, six or even eight hundred million are Maoists."

"The government needs to face up to this."

Political writer Hu Shaojiang agreed.

"The make-up of the popular Maoist movement is very complex," Hu wrote in a recent commentary broadcast on RFA's Cantonese Service. "They have no experience of the actual social and political situation under Mao, but they are disappointed in today's society and in officials."

"Some engage in grandstanding of left-wing ideology ... many agree with Mao's ideological and political line," he said.

"Some of them harbor aggressive tendencies to abuse, criticize, lay siege to and even physically attack people who criticize Mao in a rational manner," Hu said.

He said the administration of President Xi Jinping has done little to curb the Maoist left, and at times seems to take its side.

"They persecute anyone expressing rational criticism of Mao, and take a fairly laissez-faire attitude to violence from the Maoists," Hu wrote.

He said the firing of Deng Xiangchao was "an updated version" of the persecution of liberal intellectuals in the Mao era.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Goh Fung for the Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.