Xie Yang, Chen Jiangang, January 20, 2017
Continued from Part One
(The interview started at 9:23:32 a.m. on January 5, 2017)
Chen Jiangang (陈建刚, “CHEN”): Today Lawyer Liu Zhengqing (刘正清) had to go back. Let’s continue our interview.
CHEN: At the time you were put in Room 207, you hadn’t slept for all of the 11th and half a day on the 12th—that’s at least 30 hours. Did you ask for time to sleep? Were you tired?
XIE: Very tired! But they always had someone coming in, so I couldn’t even shut my eyes.
CHEN: Describe what happened after you got to the room.
XIE: After I got to the room, police kept coming in one after another to ask me questions. No one showed any identification, wore a uniform, or told me who they were. Sometimes there were two of them, sometimes three, and sometimes more than that. They never stopped coming to ask questions. Sometimes it lasted around a half-hour, sometimes more than an hour. They made no records of the interrogations. In any case, they didn’t let me sleep. When they left, there was always someone by my side. When the interrogators left, the “chaperones” (陪护人员) would be there. On the first day, the chaperones basically weren’t around, though. Plainclothes police kept coming in to question me—I was constantly being interrogated.
CHEN: What questions did they ask you?
XIE: They asked about my family background, my social ties, how many women I had, how much money I made a year. They also asked about the Qing’an case (庆安案). Things like that. They never took notes or wrote up a statement. I found out later that more than 40 people were responsible for interrogating and investigating me, start to finish.
CHEN: What time did that kind of questioning end on July 12?
XIE: It continued until 7 p.m. Then they said an official was coming to see me. It was Wang Tietuo (王铁铊), head of the Sixth Division of the Changsha Domestic Security Unit—he was the so-called “official.” He came to tell me to confess and admit my crimes. He also said: “This is a designated place for residential surveillance. We will ensure reasonable time for you to rest. But the law doesn’t specify what ‘reasonable’ means—this is up to us. If we think two hours of sleep a day is enough, then you get two hours to sleep. If we think one hour is enough, you get one hour. If we think half an hour is enough, you get half an hour. If we think five minutes is enough, then you get five minutes.”
CHEN: What else did he say?
XIE: I asked them how they, as police, could interpret the law like that? Wang Tietuo said: “You’re now under residential surveillance in a designated location. Your only right is to obey. You need to understand your own identity: you’re a criminal suspect.”
CHEN: What next?
XIE: Wang then said things to intimidate me, the gist of which was that it would be bad for me if I didn’t obey them. In sum, he was threatening me. Wang and several others spoke to me like that for several hours up until midnight. By that point, I’d been awake for over 40 hours and was incredibly tired. They let me sleep then.
CHEN: How long did you sleep?
XIE: Until 6:30 a.m. on the 13th, when they woke me.
CHEN: What took place on the 13th?
XIE: Let me explain. During the seven days from the 13th to the 19th, I had contact with two types of people: either interrogators or chaperones. The interrogators would come in five shifts every 24 hours to question me. The chaperones worked in pairs for three eight-hour shifts. But when the interrogators came in, the chaperones would leave—they weren’t present.
CHEN: Can you give more detail about the interrogators’ shifts?
XIE: The first shift lasted from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The second went from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Shift three went from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. The fourth shift lasted from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. And shift five went from 3 a.m. to 8 a.m.
The first four shifts involved endless interrogation, but they didn’t ask questions during the fifth shift. They said it was to give me time to sleep. I was supposed to sleep from 3 a.m. to 6:30 a.m., but that was just what they said. I didn’t get the full 3½ hours because the fourth shift would always deliberately drag things on until after 4 a.m. They’d let me sleep for a while, but I’d be woken up at 6:30 without question. I was only able to get a bit more than two hours of sleep a day.
CHEN: Do you remember the names of the people who interrogated you?
XIE: There was Zhou Lang (周浪), Qu Ke (屈可), Yin Zhuo (尹卓), Li Yang (李阳), Zhou Yi (周毅), and Zhuang Xiaoliang (庄晓亮). There were others, too—more than a dozen in all. Those are the ones I remember; I don’t know the others. They never showed me any identification or told me their names. They didn’t wear police uniforms. From July 13 until July 19, those were the people who interrogated me. Five shifts. At least three people would question me in the first four shifts, so at least 13 people. I don’t know most of their names, and the transcripts they made aren’t in the case file.
CHEN: Can you describe in detail how they interrogated you?
XIE: First let me tell you what happened overall on the seven days from the 13th to the 19th. I’ve seen the case file—there are a lot of interrogation transcripts from before the 19th, but they didn’t put any of them in the case file. Because I was under residential surveillance in a designated place, I was actually being secretly detained by them. My family didn’t know where I was and no lawyers could come see me. They controlled everything in the room, including me. I was completely under their control—they could treat me anyway they pleased.
During the interrogations, they’d have me sit on a plastic stool, the kind without any back that you can stack up, one on top of another. They stacked four or five of them, so that it was kind of tall. My feet couldn’t touch the ground when I sat on it, and my legs hung down like this. They demanded that I sit up straight and rigid, both hands on my knees, head up and chest out. I wasn’t allowed to move.
CHEN: You weren’t allowed to move even a bit—to stretch your back or turn your head?
XIE: No. Zhou Yi told me: “If you move at all, we can consider you to be attacking us and we can use whatever means we need to subdue you. We’re not gentle with people who attack police officers.” That’s how they threatened me with violence if I moved at all—they’d call it an attack on the police if my face twitched or I lowered my head. I had to ask for permission to drink water or use the toilet.
CHEN: How did you have to request permission?
XIE: I’d have to say: “Request permission to drink water” or “Request permission to use the toilet.” I needed their okay to take a drink of water, otherwise I’d get no water. They’d make me go long periods without letting me have any water.
CHEN: Please continue.
XIE: They made me sit there and asked me questions. Each time there would be three or four of them—one right in front, asking the questions; another facing me, to the right; and one behind me, keeping a close eye on me. If I got tired and tried to stretch or move my head, the guy behind me would immediately hit me and berate me, telling me to “sit up straight.”
CHEN: What else?
XIE: They asked me questions, and I answered. They were never satisfied and so they’d yell at me and tell me to “reflect” and “be straight” with them. They said: “We have documents and already know everything about you. Don’t pass up the chance we’re giving you here . . . .” They weren’t happy with the majority of my answers to their questions, so it went on like that with them reprimanding and intimidating me, sometimes even insulting me.
CHEN: Did they record your answers accurately?
XIE: They were taking notes at the time, but I can’t say whether they kept an accurate record. Looking now at the procuratorate’s case file, I don’t see any of the transcripts from my first seven days of interrogation.
CHEN: You said they threatened and insulted you. What did they say?
XIE: Each day’s interrogation was full of these kinds of threats, insults, and reprimands. It was too much! Yin Zhuo was the one who came to interrogate me from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. every day. After 3 o’clock he was supposed to let me sleep. Assuming that I fell asleep right away, that meant I’d be able to sleep 3½ hours every 24 hours. But each time Yin Zhuo would deliberately drag things on until after 4 a.m. He once said to me: “I sleep very well during the day. Then I get so excited every night at this time because I get to torment you. You see, I’m going to torment you until you go insane. Don’t even imagine that you’ll be able to walk out of here and continue being a lawyer. You’re going to be a cripple . . . .” I was terrified at the time, not knowing what might happen to me.
CHEN: Talk about your physical condition. How long were you tormented like that?
XIE: It was like that every day from the 13th to the 19th, they tortured me and wouldn’t let me sleep. Every night, Yin Zhuo would say to me: “Xie Yang, you’ve been here so long now, have you ever heard a sound outside? These walls have been specially constructed so that no sound can travel outside. This is not a place where you can say whatever you want. It’s a place where you say what we want you to say. Don’t think you’ll get out of here and be able to file a complaint. Let me tell you, filing a complaint will do you no good. This case comes from Beijing. We’re handling your case on behalf of Party Central. Even if we were to kill you, they wouldn’t find a single piece of evidence to prove it was us who did it.”
I was quite terrified then [starts to sob]. My family and lawyers had no idea where I was. If they tortured me to death, my family wouldn’t even know [sobs]. This was the second time in my life that I’d been threatened with death. The first time was in Dongshigu Village [hometown of Chen Guangcheng], and this was the second time. It was the same thing all over again: suddenly I disappear and no one knows where I’ve been kidnapped to.
CHEN: How tired were you after deprived you of sleep like that? Did you eventually give in?
XIE: There’s no way to describe that state of not wanting to go on living. On the third day, I broke down. A complete mental breakdown. Yin Zhuo and the others came to interrogate me that night, and they were deliberately trying to torment me. I was already mentally disturbed and began to cry. I begged them to let me sleep for just a few minutes, but they refused and continued to torment me. They wanted me to write my statement, but I told them I really couldn’t do it—I couldn’t even pick up the pen. I tried to rest my head on the table, but they grabbed my collar and pulled me up. Yin Zhuo, Zhuang Xiaoliang and two others pulled me up and said: “If you’re not going to write, then tonight you don’t get to sleep!” That must have been the early morning of the 16th. So, like that, I was forced to sit there for a full 24 hours without sleep, not even the two hours of sleep. At daybreak the next day, they continued their interrogation.
CHEN: All of the statements and transcripts from that time, did these accurately reflect your own views?
XIE: Of course not! I had to write my confession according to their demands. If I didn’t, they would torment me to no end. But I couldn’t always write to their satisfaction.
Yin Zhuo gave me three choices for how I should explain my actions as a rights lawyer: “Either you did it for fame, for profit, or to oppose the Party and socialism.” Looking at the case file now, many of the things I wrote or the interview transcripts they kept were not included. They said those documents were no good because they didn’t fit with those three explanations. In one interview I said that I handled cases in a legal way, but they thought that this didn’t fit with the three options they’d given me and forced me to write something myself.
The truth is that I handled cases in a legal way, and that I took on cases when I saw injustice being done. But they wouldn’t let me write down this sort of truth, so it won’t show up in any of my written statements.
Since they’d set out three options, I could only smear myself. I did it for fame and profit, to oppose the Communist Party and the current political system—those words are in there. I had no right to choose whether to write them or not or sign my name to them. All I could do was write, sign. Whatever was written or whatever is in the transcripts, I had no choice. I could only choose from the three options they gave me—fame, profit, or opposing the Party and socialism.
CHEN: So, what’s your evaluation of the interrogation records and your written statements in this case? Are they truthful?
Xie: They’re not truthful. I wrote and signed them according to the demands of Yin Zhuo, Zhou Yi, Qu Ke and the others, under torture and in a state of wanting to die.
CHEN: Let’s stop here this morning and continue in the afternoon.
(The interview concluded at 11:24:22 a.m. on January 5, 2017)