University graduate, Zhang Xiaoning, holds a sign outside the United Nations 76th General Assembly seeking justice after allegedly being raped by a Beijing police officer. (Image: Zhang Xiaoning)
On Sept. 14, 2021, a university graduate from Beijing, Zhang Xiaoning, held a sign outside the United Nations during the 76th United Nations General Assembly, asking for justice for herself and punishment for the police officer who allegedly raped her.
The sign reads, “Severely punish the Beijing policeman who raped me! Give me justice! Beijing petitioner: Zhang Xiaoning.”
Zhang Xiaoning’s story starts in 2019. She was an accounting major graduate at a Science and Technology University in Beijing, and called the local Shuangjing police station in Beijing’s Chaoyang district asking for help after being harassed by a man she had met online.
Sent to a detention center instead of getting police assistance
Instead of receiving help, she was unexpectedly arrested by the Beijing Shuangjing area police station for “vagrancy assistance” and sent to a hospital in Changping District that Nov. 19.
“It has a small two-story building at the back of the hospital. There are three big iron doors,” Zhang told Vision Times. “After I entered, they said they wanted to examine me and forced me to strip. It was in a room without windows. There was a male doctor, a female nurse, and two male policemen from the Shuangjing police station. The police captain’s name is Pan Yangcheng.”
During the forced stripping, Zhang began to resist. That’s when “they said I had a mental problem;” she was then restrained and an unknown substance was forcibly injected into her.
The unknown drug immediately made her feel weak and sleepy. Another police officer was suddenly called in. She was pinned down on an examination table, covered with the type of blue cloth used on an operating table, and the police officer then raped her.
“During the whole ordeal, I called for help, but nobody helped me….. I endured a great deal of pain. I’ve been enduring a lot of pain for two years,” Zhang said.
“I was strapped down with an IV in my arm for a long time, and had a stomach tube inserted. They said I was incapable of taking care of myself.”
The next day Zhang’s father came to pick her up. According to Zhang, “The police told my father that I went mad. I asked them for the surveillance video of my madness, but they haven’t provided it so far.”
Healthy people injected with unknown drugs
Zhang Xiaoning said that the doctors, nurses, and police officers at the hospital have no humanity. They were injecting drugs into perfectly healthy people. She witnessed pregnant women and children detained there. She didn’t believe any of them were native to Beijing.
There was no bed in the detention facility, no quilt, and she witnessed several people crowded together. They didn’t let people go to the toilet. Urine and feces gathered and were left exposed in the room.
Zhang has revealed that many petitioners were detained in the Beijing Changping Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine, where she was held following her arrest. The hospital injected the petitioners with drugs and then diagnosed them with mental illnesses just as they did to her. .
In her interview with Vision Times, Zhang described how she witnessed the persecution of healthy people confined to the hospital as having “gone insane.”
Zhang said, “When my father took [me] out and [while we were] walking out of the detention facility, I heard the detained people in several rooms crying out miserably, ‘Let me out!’”
These innocent petitioners originally had grievances that their local government didn’t resolve, so they went to Beijing to ask for help from higher offices. Instead, they were arrested by the police and sent to a “relief station” in Beijing.
After being placed in the relief station, they reported being beaten, and harmed with drugs. Some of them were driven mad.
After she was freed, Zhang discovered that she had been detained in a small two-story building at the rear of the Changping hospital. The hospital is recognised as a “Baby-Caring Hospital” by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Zhang knew of another young woman who was arrested for petitioning. Similar to Zhang’s experience, she was persecuted and abused, and was denied justice. Zhang believes the woman was driven mad. Moreover, her family members petitioned for her but were instead sentenced to a year in prison.
‘Diagnosed’ with a mental disorder
Zhang Xiaoning sued the Shuangjing policeman for illegal detention and rape. However the courts determined that the evidence available was insufficient. The Beijing Chaoyang District government did not accept her application for an administrative review.
The official document states that the police “escorted the applicant to Beijing Changping District Integrated Hospital of Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine for a diagnosis of mental disorder, which is a rescue action and not a specific administrative act. The applicant’s first application for reconsideration does not meet the requirements for administrative reconsideration.”
The Chaoyang government defines forced stripping, drug injection, and rape as “Diagnosis of Mental Disorder” and “Rescue Action”.
Zhang Xiaoning told reporters,” When I was in school, I thought China was really a country under the rule of law. But the first lesson I learned after I entered the society was, “There is no law in China.”
Detention shelters abolished; renamed ‘Relief Stations’
China’s “detention shelters” were places where petitioners, after being arrested, were detained in inhumane conditions.
Following a vicious assault by staff at the Guangzhou detention shelter — that in 2003 resulted in the death of Sun Zhigang, a graduate of the Wuhan University of Science and Technology — the then-prime minister of China, Wen Jiabao, ordered the abolition of detention shelters in China. The incident drew widespread condemnation from the Chinese public.
Zhang Xiaoning told reporters that in 2003, the mayor of Beijing announced abolishing detention shelters and immediately replaced them with “relief stations”, which were even worse.
The place where Zhang was detained was designated a “relief station” by the Beijing city government. The system ensured that there was no way for petitioners to defend their rights because they were routinely labeled as “mentally ill.”
Because no media in China reported the relief stations, Zhang never knew of them or imagined that the police could do such despicable things.
Still seeking justice
To prove that she was not mentally ill and to seek justice, in July 2021, Zhang began applying to study in the United States. She was admitted to UCLA and secured a visa to travel to the US. However, a court worker approached her and asked her not to leave China for the time being.
In early August, she underwent minor surgery which allowed her to avoid surveillance and she seized the opportunity to escape to America.
In late August 2021, Zhang Xiaoning arrived in the United States.
Reflecting on her ordeal, Zhang Xiaoning said that she had appealed for only two things.
Firstly, she was seeking justice and punishment for the Shuangjing policeman who raped her.
Secondly, she wanted to tell the truth about the Beijing Changping District Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine Hospital. She says she can’t forget those detained there, miserably shouting “let us out” in the small two-story building behind the hospital.
She urges the authorities, and other relevant organisations to address petitioners’ grievances and to release the innocent Chinese people.