Sunday, February 25, 2007

Teacher arrested in Jiamusi, torture capital of China

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Recorded a day after my arrest [CHINA]
A simple account of an extraordinary event: [Recorded a day after my arrest]
Yesterday the school´s principal, head teacher, a member of Fujian´s Public Security Bureau, Zhou Chao, Zhou Ming [the driver] and I travelled to Jiamusi to file documents pertaining to my employment as a teacher of English and to extend my visa while these documents were being processed. We went straight to the Jiamusi PSB for this. Immediately upon entering the PSB building we were ushered into an office and suddenly the others were swept from the office and I was left alone with these two female members of the PSB. One was a translator and the other the chief of police [from what I could understand]. It was clear to me from the start that I was being ´grilled´ for breaking the terms of my tourist visa by teaching at Fujin Bilingual Primary School. I told them that I had been invited to Fujin by the Fujin government and that I was on a tourist visa due to the fact that I had been asked to travel quickly to Fujin to facilitate the September opening ceremony and to be in place for the students when the school began to operate. They asked me who asked me to come to China and I told them many times that it was Zhou Chao and the entire Fujin community.I was then moved from the ´visitors´ chair to a chair in front of the police chief. She exited and another plain clothes policeman began to grill me again. I repeated what I had told the previous policewoman and he, too, exited, to be replaced by a nasty type. This nasty type was nasty. His name is Zhang le and his number is 050150. He had three stars on his shoulder and he did not speak good English. He interrogated me in Chinese for two hours!I told these two police [Zhang Le and the female translator] exactly what had happened to me since my arrival in China. Zhang Le continued to not understand what I was saying and she kept telling me that Chinese people are friendly. The atmosphere inside that office was horrible. I knew what they were up to and I was not in a position to tell other than the truth. I would never lie, anyway, as I am man of principle and lying is not part of my nature. Zhang Le kept asking me questions and every time I tried to correct his misinterpretation he shouted at me and told me to be quiet. It was beginning to become serious. He was writing a statement of interview. I produced a record of my email communication with the government-sponsored agency in Beijing that had initially contacted me to ask me to come to Fujin to teach English. This obviously had no effect as neither of these two police had a good understanding of English. They were intent upon some other purpose. She, the translator [she was uniformed by I could not identify her rank, but she was an older woman] asked me questions such as ´Do you think China is a dirty place?´ and ´Why did you come to China?´ and ´Do you think Chinese people are friendly?´ and ´How old are you?´ and ´How many children do you have?´ ... the questions went on and on and on, repeating and changing course and I knew the techniques of interrogation. I was, of course, a former army intelligence officer and I knew about these techniques. But I had nothing to hide. My demeanour was controlled as their grilling became more ludicrous and insulting. I was asked repeatedly for names of Liu Jie, the agency manager in Beijing; Zhou Chao; the principal of the school, etc., and dates. They kept getting the dates wrong and when I tried to correct them, Zhang Le shouted at me and kept me quiet. He continued to write his statement in Chinese. While he was writing, she asked me other questions that were personal. ´What are the ages of your children. How old are you? Why did you come to China. Do you think the Chinese people are friendly? What is the age of your youngest child? Your oldest child? Have you worked in China before? There were so many questions that it would drain my emotions to write them all here. It would take me hours to repeat the entire interrogation.Then it was finished. I had to be fingerprinted and have my fingerprints stamped on this record of interview. She had read in bad English her interpretation of the statement and although the facts were, as she said them, incoherent and illogically phrased, I was forced to fingerprint many parts of the statement, on each of the four pages, and to sign each page. I had no recourse to legal advice; I had no access to the other members of our party, including Fujin´s PSB representative [who had been in uniform at the opening of our school two days previous]. I was isolated and detained and not free to do anything of my own free will. The ultimate indignity came when, after having signed the statement, I asked to relieve myself at the WC. They ignored me. I have a weak bladder and a nervous disposition when it comes to urination. I can never urinate in public. This has been a medical/psychological condition since I was a young man. In forty seven years I had never been able to urinate in public or in view of another person. Finally after many protests from me I was taken under custody to the WC along the passage. It is a poor toilet in terms of hygiene. The woman´s section was next to the man´s an I was about to enter the woman´s toilet when Zhang Le shouted at me to use the other. These two toilets occupied the same room. So I entered the men´s toilet and tried to close the door to give myself privacy. Zhang Le came inside with me. I protested by waving my arms at him to leave. He ignored my request and instead indicated that he would turn his back. This was no good. I could not pee in his presence. The toilet space was disgusting. Above my head was a sheet of plastic, like a shower curtain, suspended just above my head by a piece of wood. There was a leak from the toilet on the next floor [it was obviously the toilet area of each floor of the building] and this sheet of plastic was there to catch the leaks. It had been there quite a long time as it too leaked on anyone standing under it. The floor of this toilet was being splashed from above and I was ´rained upon´ from above.So we returned to the same office and the interrogation process began again. I was then not in the mood to go along with them. I continued to protest, not about the interview, but about Zhang lLe´s toilet behaviour. I told them I had a shy disposition, that I needed to urinate, and hat I could not urinate in front of Zhang Le. I told them both that I was not a criminal and I needed to urinate in private. She kept telling me that Zhang Le was not preventing me from urinating; that he went with me because I did not know the way. He went with me for my own protection. This was palpably a lie for I repeatedly told her that he stood inside the toilet with me and would not leave. She began to laugh at me. Other police entered the office from time to time and one woman police officer also began to laugh at me. Every time I protested against this unseemly behaviour by the police, Zhang Le moved toward me in a threatening manner. When I stood up to show that I wanted to urinate, he shouted at me to sit. He waved his hands at me and his face was obviously in a dark mood and in English he told me ´stop!´. He knew a few words of English but his comprehension was very poor. After two hours Zhou Chao entered office. He also had been interrogated by the police officer in plain clothes who first interrogated me. I told Zhou Chao about the toilet incident and to his great credit turned to Zhang Le and said hard words in Chinese to him. Apparently while I was being interrogated, Zhou Chao had phoned the Mayor of Fujin about our predicament. The Mayor in turn phoned Fujin´s head of the Public Security Bureau who, coincidentally was in Jiamusi at the time. The Fujin PSB head immediately came to this building and after some time Zhou Chao was released and he in turn came into the office where I was being interrogated and told me that my visa was being extended. The interrogation was over. But I had not finished with Zhang Le. I told him that he had been wrong to deny me my toilet privacy and that the female police were rude and wrong in laughing at my medical condition. The female translator kept telling me that she was only doing her job and she had to do as her leader told her. She said this five times. It was now very apparent to everyone there that this whole unsavoury business had been carried too far; that I was a guest of the Fujin government and that Zhang Le had abused his authority. I was photographed fo my visa extension, and offered no apology from anyone except Zhou Chao. He shouldered the blame.I had been interrogated for two hours and detained against my will. I had been denied fundamental freedom to urinate privately.The after we were released and out on the street again, we learned that the Fujin PSB head had told the PSB Fujin representative [who had accompanied us from Fujin to Jiamusi], to join him in a meeting there at Jiamusi for the following two or three hours. As we had brought her to Jiamusi, we obviously could not leave without her. But I would not sty in Jiamusi longer than was necessary and I said that I needed to return to Fujin because of my worsening medical and psychological condition. I could not eat with my nerves entangled as they were. During the interrogation, the female translator repeatedly told me not to worry. She also repeated told me I had broken Chinese law. She repeated these two contradictory statements for two hours. Although I had never behaved in a subservient mood, nor had I challenged their authority to question me, I had become severely traumatised. I had been told that I could not teach English while in China on a tourist visa. Yet I had been asking for my Z visa since my arrival, I had told the agency manager, Liu Jie, that I always came to China on a Z visa but she had told me that she was a government-sanctioned agent and that the government of Fujin had authorised my being there as a teacher and that the Z visa would be no trouble. So what do I do now? On the one hand I have been asked to continue teaching and on the other I have the dreadful experience of that interrogation and the multiple warnings by the PSB not to teach.My wife does not know about this yet; she has just purchased her ticket to China and is waiting her own tourist visa to travel to China.I know that this experience will deter her from coming. I would not want her to go through what I have endured yesterday.If this were any other country of the world that I know, I would now have recourse to justice and have Zhang Le severely punished for his actions and the PSB of Jiamusi would be under official scrutiny. An De RuiESL Teacher [2006-12-21, 02:50:00][ID: 1794-29208]