Jiang Tianyong, July 3, 2018
Following is an excerpt from Jiang Tianyong’s interview with the Chinese edition of The Epoch Times, published on July 12, 2016, a year into the 709 Crackdown and four months before his own arrest. Also following is a short video his wife, Jin Bianling, who shares the latest news about Jiang, who is now serving a two-year sentence in Xinxiang Prison, Henan (Henan No. 2 Prison). It is believed that Jiang was severely tortured during custody. The excerpt has been edited for brevity. — The Editors
A Patriot By Himself, a Subverter by the Chinese Government
The education we receive from childhood to adulthood is that people must be patriotic, must be involved in politics, and must have a sense of social responsibility — but that is false. Once you are truly patriotic, truly safeguard the rule of law, and once you really do something good for the country, in the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) eyes you’re the greatest threat to the regime. When you truly love this country, you may be committing a crime. So-called “inciting subversion,” is not to subvert state power, but to subvert the rule of the Communist Party.
In my early days of practicing law, when I was summoned to ‘drink tea’ with the domestic security police (guobao, political police), I tried my best to make them understand that what I was doing was to help build the rule of law in China, and that this was a good thing. It really was not for personal fame and gain. But I was wrong; the Party attacked those who were precisely doing good deeds. It’s afraid of the people who are not after fame and wealth, but have a sense of social responsibility! If you aren’t after fame and gain, it’s most troublesome to them, because it’s difficult to bribe people like you. If you are not taking a case to make money, the Party thinks that your sole purpose is to oppose the Party. It’s more dangerous; the Party likes people to do things for money. It built this nation not for the country, and not for the people, but for the Party’s own benefit.
I am a Christian. I know that behind the Party is an evil spirit. It exists to destroy — destroy your goodness; it exists to do evil.
60 Days of Secret Detention During the Imaginary ‘Jasmine Revolution’ in 2011
To this day, I still don’t know where I was detained in 2011. A very small room with a window; the curtains and door were tightly closed so I couldn’t make out whether it was day or night. I didn’t know the time; I didn’t have a single piece of paper, nor a single thing to read. Information was completely cut off; I was prohibited from chatting, there was absolutely no language at all.
After I came out, I realized that this kind of mental abuse caused quite a bit of damage. My memory seriously declined, and I became forgetful. I forgot the password for my Twitter account and the password for Skype, which I had used continuously for many years.
Every day I got up at 6:00 am and after washing my face and rinsing my mouth, I had to sing Red songs. I said, “I can’t sing.” “Then recite! Recite the lyrics!” I said, “I can’t recite them.” “Then you must read them in a loud voice!” “Read Red Lyrics!” “Towards a New Era,” “The Party is Our Beloved Mother,” and “Five-Star Red Flag” It was so disgusting! Every morning, I had to read the lyrics and read them in a loud voice! It was mandatory!
Having to sing Red songs is also torture. The whole thing is brainwashing. The purpose of their disciplinary actions is to change my way of thinking, to brainwash me.
Then there was “facing the wall” — that was sitting on the floor with my knees against the wall, and maintaining a fixed position for a long time; or legs stretched out straight with my feet against the wall, my legs affixed to the ground and straightened to 90 degrees. It was like my back was broken; I was unable to continue sitting in that position. Another method was to curl the legs; when I couldn’t hold that position, I would just hug my legs. Every day I had to sit, it was called “reflection” …
When they interrogated me, they punched and kicked me. Bang! Bang! Bang! They said, “We can handle things in accordance with the law or not, because we have the authority to work illegally.” Once, I asked one of the thugs: “You are human, I am also human, why do you do these inhuman things?” He froze for a few seconds, and then another punch came. He said: “You are not human!” I stood up and looked at him; he hit me again, and I stood up again; he beat me so hard that my mouth was foaming. They interrogated me during the night, and deprived me of sleep. There were five days that I never shut my eyes. As a Christian, along the way, there are many things in which I feel truly that God was with me.
The beatings and the verbal abuse – this was not the worst to bear. The worst was that you had to be subject to the brainwashing. It forced you to say that black is white. It really makes you fall apart! You think it’s white; but in the end, they make you say, from your own mouth, that it’s black. Furthermore, it’s not enough for you to just acknowledge that it’s black; you must dig deep into the roots of your thinking; you must state the logic behind why it’s black, and why it’s not white. You can’t use neutral words. You must use their words. The brainwashing process forces you to accept the Party’s ideas, and forces you to change your mind about a particular thing. That process will drive you crazy. The man talked, and talked and talked, nonstop. I didn’t listen; I just watched his mouth move, I looked at the wall. At that time I understood why, during interrogations, people might think about committing suicide by jumping to their deaths.
I looked around and saw that the windows were firmly sealed. I endured. I couldn’t go crazy. Crazy or not, I couldn’t jump, nor could I jump up and hit him. But who could guarantee that an hour later I wouldn’t jump up and hit him? Or that I wouldn’t suddenly jump off from the building or hit my head against the wall? At that time, I understood, that it was no wonder that some Falun Gong practitioners would break or go insane even after just a short time in a “brainwashing class.” They were completely and totally not treated as human beings. My situation was a little better. They were afraid that I would commit suicide, but they didn’t know what I might do the minute-by-minute, and how long I could resist, or whether I might go crazy. Beatings and verbal abuse were not the worst to bear.
When they kidnapped me in 2011, the police knocked my mother to the ground, and also beat up my brother. They stuffed me into a car; they secretly locked me up for two months. My mother lost 20 or 30 pounds; she couldn’t eat. We were forced to move many times. In 2009, one day when I was about to take our daughter to school, the security police blocked me. We got into a scuffle, and in one blow they knocked my wife to the ground. Our daughter cried beside me. Going to and from school every day, my daughter could see how I had been put under “soft detention,” and not allowed to leave home.
Regarding the education of my daughter, I didn’t really care much about it at first. One year, on Children’s Day [June 1], she happily returned from school wearing a red neck scarf [signifying membership in the Young Pioneers]. There is a movie called “Revelation,” which says very clearly that the Communist Party oath, or wearing its items, including the Party emblem, the Youth League’s emblem, the flag, Mao Zedong’s image, the red neck scarf, is like branding an animal. It appears to be a harmless thing, but actually there is evil in it.
But if you don’t let your child wear a red neck scarf, and everyone else is wearing them, your child will be isolated. That thing is touted as a symbol of progress, how much can you count on the child to understand? So the best thing to do is flee. In 2013, my wife and child left China. There was no other way; my wife was also badly harassed. At that time, they also used my wife and daughter to threaten me: we couldn’t get you, so we’ll get your wife and child. This was a direct threat. There were also some veiled threats, like, they frequently asked, “what grade is your daughter in? Which school are you planning to send her to?” In short, such conversations made me feel like they were threatening my child. They said, “if we wanted her to go to school, then she would be able to go to school; if we don’t want her to go to school, then she won’t be able to go to school. If you cooperate with us, then that’s an easy matter to take care of; she can go to the best school and she can take the college entrance examination in Beijing. That’s a simple matter for the government; isn’t it just a matter of one word and it’s taken care of?!” This was both a threat and a lure, so I realized that my child must leave; if she didn’t leave China she would be a hostage. It was only after they left that I could go all out and do my work.
I didn’t want to leave China. As a lawyer, if I were to go abroad, it would just be a waste. It’s here in China where I can really do things.
However, in July 2013 I was blocked from leaving the country. I couldn’t visit them. Now my child is an adolescent, it’s a crucial time in her education. I’m very anxious. In any case, I’m not a good husband or a good father. I’ve failed in my duties.
Falun Gong Cases
When I first read Gao Zhisheng investigation of the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in Northeastern China, I thought that, while the facts were likely true, the specific details must have been somewhat exaggerated, because they were just unimaginable. It was only in 2008, when I personally handled a Falun Gong case, that I discovered that the persecution of Falun Gong was truly wicked. Our imagination falls far short of what the Party can do.
In 2009, I testified before the U.S. Congress: the Chinese government has special, dedicated personnel, dedicated sites, special methods, and special funds to exclusively do bad things: how to seize people, how to make them suffer, including the flow of the torture process –– all of these things were specialized. Moreover, the way they seize Falun Gong practitioners is different from how they grab other people. When public security officers seize other people, they still treat them as human beings. But with Falun Gong practitioners, as soon as the police burst in, they would take anything they wanted: bank cards, jewelry, money in their pockets, etc. The police brazenly steal these things and put them in their own pockets. They don’t show any restraint; in their eyes, Falun Gong practitioners are not human. They have absolutely no rights; they don’t have any opportunity to state their case.
If you’re a murderer, if you’re a rapist, or if you incite subversion, the police wouldn’t dare to act in this way. The rights that murderers have, Falun Gong practitioners don’t even have. It’s unbelievable.
A Proper Lawyer in China Is Inevitably a Rights Lawyer and Will Inevitably Faces Suppression
As a lawyer, it’s not that we intentionally oppose the government. The so-called lawyers who aren’t suppressed, or who haven’t yet been cracked down upon, must have on many occasions, amid pressure, given in. Such a lawyer not only doesn’t fight for his own rights as a lawyer, but he also sells out the rights of his clients. For example, if public security officers won’t let you meet with your detained client, you don’t insist, then your client has also been stripped of his right to meet with his lawyer. In court, you demand to put on a defense, but the chief judge won’t let you speak, so you just don’t speak? He won’t let you defend your client’s rights, so you just obey? What about your professional ethics? Therefore, as long as a lawyer insists on doing his work according to the law, he will inevitably be in conflict with the public security bureau and courts, because the overwhelming majority of public security officers, prosecutors, and judges completely disregard the law in doing their work.
This is true for all ordinary cases. There are also some cases in which an order from a certain official or an office instructs what should be done. For example, if a local official invokes social stability, if you don’t listen to him, then you are in opposition to him. He will then accuse you of opposing the Party. When you further defend your rights as a lawyer, you’ll be retaliated against. You’ve offended the Justice Bureau, which then will not let you pass the annual renew of your law license.
What Propels Me
It’s actually very simple: it’s not completely altruism. I don’t want to live like this. I can’t stand it. I don’t want my child to live like this. My parents’ generation swallowed it. I often say, “If you can take it, you take it, but I’m not having it, nor will my child. There are still things for me to do. I still have hope. When I no longer have hope, then I’ll leave. If I can’t leave, then I will just have to wait to die. If we want change, we must remain here and work hard with others to bring about change. We must change it; we must. Although it’s difficult, but no matter how difficult, you have to ask yourself: Do you want this? Are you going to let this continue? If you think it’s difficult or dangerous, and you give it up, then it will be like this forever. There will be no hope at all. If you don’t have hope, then you are in the throes of despair. We must have hope; people have to come together. In the beginning, there are only a few, then over time, there will more and more people joining. That’s when it will be finished.”
I hope that there will be a government that is transparent, democratically elected, and which the public participates in. Individuals will not be accused of inciting subversion because they participate in public affairs. I can say whatever it is I want to say, and the police won’t come looking for me and take me into custody because of something I said. What grounds do they have for treating us like this?
I do my work diligently according to the nation’s laws. What I do is good work. Why are human rights defenders in other countries so dignified, and live so elegantly? Unlike us –– we human rights lawyers, are poor and struggling. There’s no country that treats lawyers like this –– not the United States, not Europe. Even Taiwan and the Philippines also support their lawyers. In China, the government not only doesn’t support us; on the contrary, it specially cracks down on us. However, the more the government suppresses us, the more we realize that these mechanisms, as long as they exist, it’s a world in which good is punished and evil prevails. In such a society, there is no way for people to live a normal life. All of this must change, and it must come to an end!
Disappeared Lawyer a Long-time Target of Surveillance, Detention, and Torture, China Change, November, 2015.