Banners protesting UN Complicity in Forced Evictions Unfurled Inside UN Headquarters

Washington DC, August 31, 2010– The Sparrow Initiative escalated its three month long protest with a dramatic demonstration inside UN Headquarters in New York City.  Under the watchful eyes  of NYC police and reporters, several dozen protesters unfurled large banners calling on the Chinese government to compensate the 18000 families whose homes were demolished to clear land for the Shanghai World Expo, which opened on May 1, 2010.


The Sparrow Initiative is a band of Chinese citizens and their supporters who have been victimized by forced evictions and land grabbing.  Sparrow Initiative groups have  formed in virtually every province of China to counter the widespread practice of local governments collaborating with developers to grab land for special projects or private development.  With no independent judiciary in China, victims of forced evictions have virtually no means for redress of their grievances.


Organized by Initiatives for China, a pro democracy movement dedicated to peaceful democratic reform in China, the Sparrow Initiative has held daily protests in front of UN Headquarters since May 1.  “The United Nations, and in particular UN HABITAT, should be advocating for these victims.  Instead, the UN accepted a free Expo Pavilion from the Shanghai government.” said Dr. Yang Jianli, protest organizer and President, Initiatives  for  China, at a press conference which followed the demonstration. “The UN knew or should have known that his Pavilion stands on stolen property.” Repeated requests for a meeting with UN HABITAT have gone unanswered.


Dr. Yang called for UN HABITAT to give a full accounting of the acquisition of the land and the UN Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo. “Forced Evictions are a clear violation of Articles 8 and 12 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” said Yang.  “For the UN to accept property stolen from the very people its agencies are chartered to protect is an unspeakable violation of public trust”


Sparrow Initiative members have vowed to continue their protests until they have secured a meeting with the Executive Director of UN HABITAT, Dr. Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, to present their case directly.



Jim Geheran





Dr. Yang Jianli’s Speech at the Press Conference

Dr. Yang Jianli’s Letter to Under Secretary General of U.N.

Mr. Jim Geheran’s Letter for Request for Meeting with Chinese Citizen Delegation Regarding “Sparrow Initiative.”

Mr. Jim Geheran’s Second Letter for Requesting U.N.’s meeting with the Chinese Citizen Delegation