In the past few months, more than a hundred human right lawyers, activists, writers and artists have been arrested or prosecuted in China as a result of the crackdown of the Jasmine protests. Although a number of them have been released, most have kept silent about what happened during their arrest.
Now, after three months in detention, Shanghai lawyer Li Tiantian (@litiantian) has broken the silence on Twitter. In a series of tweets from May 27-28, 2011, she describes how national security police abused knowledge of her intimate relationships as part of their campaign to instigate fear among activists and opinion leaders.
The unspoken fear
On May 26, Tiantian tweeted:
I was released from hospital on May 24, thank you for all your concern and sorry that I am two days late getting back online. I feel so touched after reading all your heartfelt messages. I heard about the arrest of Ai Weiwei when I was detained, I feel very sad and hope he will be safe at home as soon as possible.
On May 27, she wrote:
The kind of fear that you can describe is small, while the kind of fear you can't speak of is the greatest. The mouse that praises the cat must be extremely afraid, I think. Just like some people will fall in love with the person he or she is afraid of, perhaps. Human psychology is complex, the good thing is that we all want to get rid of fear, and this is why we struggle. To compare different people's responses to fear won't solve the problem.
Life is full of risk, such as car accidents, cancer and confronting the government. However, which of the three – car accident, cancer or political prosecution – is more risky in terms of death? Aren't we too scared about relatively low risk endeavors, while too bold about high risk activities?
When I was released, I felt myself flowing through the air. I walked as though I were weightless. After I was escorted back to Xinjiang, I called my boyfriend, and only at that point did I know that he had been visited by police many times. They even visited his company, and spoke to his sisters and brothers, asking them to demand that he should break up with me and write a separation letter. My boyfriend refused to write it, and told them they would have to jail him as well. He said even if you shot TianTian dead, I would not write such a thing.
Interrogation on sexual affairs
After I was detained, they searched my apartment and my boyfriend's apartment. They searched everything. They even forced my boyfriend and his brothers and sisters to watch a video that showed me walking into a hotel with other men.
Even my boyfriend had no interest to know who I was having sex with. The police showed more concern. They identified the guys and wanted to document details like, who paid for the hotel? Who suggested to have sex? How many times? Who seduced who? They asked me to give all these details.
Since they really wanted to know the details and I was forgetful, I offered: If you really want to know, you can invite all these guys here, and I can do it all over again for your records. They said it wouldn't be as good as an adult video and did not authorise it.
@litiantian: 真不好意思把这些涉性的 内容写出来，但不写心里更憋屈。 虽然当时甚至是开着玩笑配合警察做那些涉性的调查笔露的，但内心还是有很深的羞辱感。像是被人拳打脚踢，我还必须笑着说打得不痛一样，无奈，无助，恐惧感还是很强。
I feel embarrassed to write about sex, but I would suffer more if I don't speak out. During the interrogation, I even made some jokes about it, but deep down I was so ashamed, as if I was beaten but kept smiling and saying that I didn't feel the pain. So helpless. The sense of fear is still very strong.
Fortunately, I did not shed a tear in front of the police. I did not lose self-control. When I said, if you don't give me a lawyer, I won't sign my name on the testimony document, the police asked if I wanted to be beaten. The officer stood up in front of me and wanted to beat me. I said be careful, I will bite your ear and neck. He grabbed my hair and threatened to hit me with a tissue box.
Before the officer hit me with the box, I said: you are really going to hit me. I get it, I am scared. I will be cooperative and won't demand anything. You are so manly, I am going to piss and wet my pants. I really needed to go to the toilet. The officer said he would handcuff me and lock me in a cage if I would not cooperate. He took out a police rod and told the guard to hit me if necessary.
@litiantian: 我在里面努力调整自己的心态才没有疯，快发疯的感觉也出现过七八次。 —–不就是没有窗吗？想想饿死的，文革死的人，我这算什么？就这样安慰自己才没有疯的。
I tried very hard to adjust my mind from going crazy. There were 7-8 times that I almost broke down. — well, no windows is just a minor problem. Just think about those who died in the cultural revolution, what I am facing now is nothing. This is how I comforted myself to stop my mind from breaking down.
Instigating fear through sexual insults
They said: you have strong sexual desire, once is not enough, you need twice at a time? I answered: I am a woman in my 40s. There is a saying about [the lust of] women in their 30s and 40s, right? Moreover, Shanghai guys are not good at this. If men are not selfish, sex can be easy. But when they perform badly, they have to do it again. Do you know why Shanghai women are so bossy? Because Shanghai guys are stupid and selfish, they can't satisfy a woman. [Translator note: the security police were Shanghai men]
Usually there were only two or three police officers questioning me. This time, when the subject was sex, they asked two additional guards, one male and one female, to enter the interrogation room. There were a total of four people asking me about my sex life. I felt very bad. They said: you are so horny, you must be dying to have sex now. I answered yes, let me out now.
Once I brought some dried fruit to one of my sex partners. They had this in their investigation. They also knew if I had discussed the Jasmine protest with these men. I asked, you won't consider the dried fruit a sexual transaction, will you?
Looking for social connections
The police asked me to write down who I got to know through the Internet. There were about 30 names that I wrote down, including those whom I met in Beihai. They asked me exactly how I knew them and how we communicated. I had to write down all these details. They were satisfied. They asked me in particular to write down details about Ai Weiwei, Liu Xiaoyuan and Tien Biao. I wrote down all the facts that I know.
Before I boarded the plane, the police officer gave me the release-document and asked me to tear it into pieces. I did not do so. I asked him if he liked his job on the way to the plane. He said he had to do it to feed his family. I said that must be difficult and that I hoped the government they were protecting would have a long life or else he would face the same kind of trouble I am facing now. After I checked in, I waved to him. He was filming me on video as evidence that he escorted me to the plane.