China Aid Association
My name is Li Zhiyun. I am female, 23 years of age, and reside in Zaoyang city, Hubei province.
At the end of July 2005 I attended a Bible study training meeting in Zaoyang. On the 2nd of August, after we had finished breakfast, we all went up to the third floor. At around eight o’clock we heard one of the sisters saying, “The police are here. Quickly destroy all telephone numbers and personal contact information.” Everyone immediately complied. As I was taking my bag sister Gu Houqing came running up and anxiously told us that our two teachers were being taken away. Since there was a language barrier, we quickly had to go down to help. I turned around and rushed downstairs. Teacher Eric was already gone. Teacher Daniel was held by six or seven plain clothes policemen. Although they could not communicate because of the language barrier, they still questioned him. I wanted to act as a friend and say a few words of common sense so that the teacher could be released. I could not have imagined that as soon as I opened my mouth, I was hit straight in the face. They said, “Have your superiors asked you for anything? Do you dare to speak?” I realized the gravity of the situation and decided that no matter what I had to stay with the two teachers. When I spoke a few words in English to Daniel, one person said, “Notice this girl. Don’t let her run away. It will be useful to keep her.”
Daniel then said to me, “Since they entered through the door not one person has shown us any identification. They just want to take us away. Eric has already been taken away.” As I wanted to know about Eric’s whereabouts I went down to the dining room. I saw many sisters arguing with the legal officers. They had no alternative but to bring Eric out of the van again. I saw that he was handcuffed and bleeding. We angrily said, “Taking a person away without showing any identification is both illegal and damaging to China’s reputation.” They crossly replied, “Do you think that only you know the law and what is good for China’s reputation?” They then very reluctantly released the handcuffs. One of the officers then produced some identification — he was Chen Zhihong from Lutouzhen Police Station. When I went upstairs with the teacher I said to him, “These people are so rude. Those who are supposed to enforce the law are in fact breaking the law.” As I was speaking I was overheard by a person in his forties. He looked at me angrily, pointed to my forehead and said, “Don’t speak nonsense. Let’s see if you dare to continue to speak such nonsense to your master.” As he was speaking he held up his fist and came towards me.
Daniel wanted to produce his passport but his computer case with his passport was held by two female officers. They were savaging through the bag without permission. We were questioned about everything. Eric then again asked, “What wrong did we do? Please tell us.” They answered, “You didn’t do anything wrong, we just want to do some searching.” I responded, “Do you search like this? Handcuffing people at will? You perhaps can treat Chinese like this, but it is against the law to treat foreigners like this. Is it possible that you don’t understand?” Eric then said, “Since we haven’t done anything wrong, you should let us go.” They then answered and said, “It is not so easy. You need to wait for our superiors to come.” Eric wanted to give his embassy a call but they did not allow him.
Afterwards, I asked Daniel, “What did they take away from you?” He said, “When they came up they took away our bags, bibles, books, notebooks, and Eric’s diary.” Sister Gu Houqing asked for their bags to be returned. I also demanded that they should give all the books back. However, nothing was returned. They told us that they will return the bags when they let us go.
After a while, Wang Zhiguo, the Head of Zaoyang Police Station, and Chang Kaihu, the Head of Xiangfan Police Station, arrived. When they saw us they said, “We heard that your attitude is not good.” Eric requested again to call his embassy, but was not permitted. Wang Zhiguo said that they will take us to a different place for questioning. I protested but to no avail. So I took some clothes and 800 yuan entrusted to me by the church to look after the two teachers. When we came out the police wanted to separate us. Although I disagreed strongly they still took Eric into another van.
After entering the Lutou Government Hostel we were taken into a room on the second floor. Wang Zhiguo took me into another room, Chang Kaihu was also present. They took turns to question me. Since I was afraid for the teachers’ safety, I went back to them. When we noticed that a female officer was recording Daniel’s passport information, we requested that she produce identification but she refused. Wang Zhiguo then asked Eric about his passport. Eric truthfully replied that his passport was still with the Beijing police and produced some documentation that they are holding his passport. However, they did not accept his answer and continued with the questioning. Wang remarked, “Who knows whether or not Eric’s passport is in Beijing or overseas?” They bombarded the two teachers with many questions. When Wang did not get any satisfactory answers, he looked at me and said, “Don’t think that you can speak in English so that I cannot understanding. I will ask for an English translator to come”.
After about ten minutes two females came up. He introduced one in much detail as having just graduated from South China Law Institute, Su Yuanyuan. Before he let the two female officers question the teachers he said, “I tell you, China’s policies are lenient to those who cooperate, but very severe to those who refuse to cooperate.” The two females also could not found out anything. The only thing was that the teachers came here without registering and without passports. We pointed out that, “It was not us who disobeyed the law, but those who, without showing any identification, indiscriminately handcuffed people.” One person among those present laughingly said, “You need to know that you are in China and not in America.” Su Yuanyuan also commented, “China’s legal system is not very complete. It is difficult to avoid mistakes.”
Being illegally detained and without permission to make a telephone call, we again said to Wang Zhiguo, “Your behavior is against the law. You have to let us go.” Wang then said to Daniel, “You can leave, but he can’t.” Daniel however said that they had to leave together. By two o’clock in the afternoon there was still no result. Those who were assigned to guard us left so we went downstairs and insisted again to make a telephone call. Our request was again rejected. Then a man appeared in a formal uniform. He came over to Daniel. Pointing to a badge on his chest, he haughtily said, “I am from China’s criminal police department,” He looked callously at Daniel and said in broken English, “How do you do? China treats visitors well, but is severe with law breakers. We still are polite to you.” He also said that it is illegal not to register but since it is still within 24 hours they are not illegal. The teachers then filled in some forms. They copied Daniel’s passport. After the forms were filled out, they were still not released. Wang Zhiguo then took Eric alone into another room for questioning. Since I was afraid that they would treat him badly I also went but not without being sworn at. Chang Kaihu and Wang Zhiguo were asking questions and making notes about the teachers’ names, ages, birthdates, citizenship, who introduced them, and about the purpose of their visit. Finally they wrote, “It is illegal to come without a passport, in view of the comparatively light nature of the offence, they were given a verbal warning.” They asked the teachers to sign their names and then allowed them to leave. Since I was a local person and invited them to come, I had to escort them on their way back. After some further checking they also let me go with the words, “If we have any further questions, we will come to look for you.”
However, when we wanted to go the female who looked through Daniel’s bag before wanted to search his bag again. She pulled his bag out of my hands with force. When she found a picture of Daniel she gave it to her superior, saying, “I told you before that this bag contained things, but you did not take it seriously.” The superior said, “We should examine this picture carefully.” In fact, it was only a portrait of the teacher given to him to express the brothers and sisters appreciation. There were some notes of thanks written on the back. When we went, except for the bag, they didn’t return any of our confiscated belongings.
When we left it was already past four o’clock. Since there were no other cars in the small village, we hired a motorized tricycle. We traveled about three kilometers when a police car intercepted us again. They wanted us to go with them, but since were afraid of more hassles we refused. We changed transport at Zaoyang and came to Beijing.
Li Zhiyun (in my own hand)
10th of August 2005
China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
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