Chinese Lawyer Xie Yang Tortured for Confession

Xie Yang, a Chinese Lawyer, tortured in Changsha, China, Jul 2015, is still in jail in the Changsha City Public Security No. 2 Detention Center. He has not been released.

Xie Yang, a Chinese Lawyer, tortured in Changsha, China, Jul 2015, is still in jail in the Changsha City Public Security No. 2 Detention Center. He has not been released.

Here I am, in Toronto, Canada, reading this translation about the torture of a Chinese lawyer, a human rights lawyer, Xie Yang 谢阳, in Changsha, China. I’m just not used to this kind of abuse on another human being. Yes, I’m soft. Under Canada’s legal system, torture in order to get a conviction would lead to the exclusion of all documents and evidence gained while under torture. This is just and fair. Evidence gained while using torture cannot be considered credible nor truthful. When someone fears for their life or the lives of their family and friends, they will admit to anything if pushed sufficiently hard. Truth is more important than just getting a conviction, as you may be convicting the wrong person.

First hand accounts of torture in China are pretty rare. Most people who are tortured clam up. I know I would, otherwise you’d have the police at your door hauling you away for yet another wailing. Xie Yang, a lawyer in China, is a different breed of man, courageous enough to document his torment, name is tormentors, in a series of interviews with his lawyers. When a lawyer documents his torture to his own lawyers you know it has to be a terrible experience. Xie Yang is still incarcerated. I hope he survives his ordeal and has no long lasting psychological scars.

Xie Yang was arrested and sent to an unknown location, where police tell no one your whereabouts. They can interrogate you for 6 months. Your family and friends have no idea where you went. It is called “residential surveillance in a designated location”, or RSDL.

Canada is considering a bilateral extradition agreement with China. There are skeptics that do not trust the Chinese government and legal system will live up to Canada’s demands for no capital punishment and no torture, if Canada returns a Chinese citizen to China. How would Canada audit and ensure our demands are met? We, as Canadians, have no real way of ensuring that our level of human rights will be upheld in China. Canada is out of their league when it comes to auditing human rights. Canada has so much more to learn about China.

This case, terrifying as it is for Xie Yang, is an example of just how different China and Canada’s justice systems function. While on the surface we both have lawyers, judges and police, the way they work and the adherence to the rule of law are completely different. China does not follow their law.

Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi goes ape at a Canadian journalist when asked about China's human rights. So angry, so arrogant, so lacking in manners. A minister of foreign affairs should have some respect for the culture of other countries, and he clearly does not. China can do much better. The Queen was right.

Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi goes ape at a Canadian journalist when asked about China’s human rights. So angry, so arrogant, so lacking in manners. A minister of foreign affairs should have some respect for the culture of other countries, and he clearly does not. China can do much better. The Queen was right.

I publish this case in order to refute China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who came to Canada in 2016 stating adamantly that China respects human rights in China. Yes, I’m sure that Chinese people know best about China’s human rights situation, and for sure Lawyer Xie Yang. That torture is in China law means nothing if the law is not enforced. Lawyer Xie Yang’s case is a clear case of human rights abuse. I suggest that Wang Yi act on his words, investigate and release Xie Yang from detention.

“Other people don’t know better than the Chinese people about the human rights condition in China and it is the Chinese people who are in the best situation, in the best position to have a say about China’s human rights situation,…So I would like to suggest to you that please don’t ask questions in such an irresponsible manner. We welcome goodwill suggestions but we reject groundless or unwarranted accusations… And do you know China has written protection and promotion of human rights into our constitution?” source

Torture to get a confession and using violence to get evidence is illegal in China, but the police flaunt it with impunity. In face China has signed the UN Convention against Torture in 1988. There should be no reason a signatory of this convention should not follow this UN mandate. Clearly China does not follow its own laws.

According to these lawyers, the accused Changsha police officers should be investigated for “torturing to force confession” and “using violence to extract evidence” under the Criminal Law (Art. 247). In addition, the CPL states that procurators must investigate accusations of forced confessions (Article 55). Under Article 12 of the Convention against Torture, to which China has been a party since 1988, the Chinese government is obligated to conduct prompt and impartial investigation into accusations of acts of torture committed…source

Torture Methods Used:
-shackled at all times
-sleep deprivation: 2-3 hrs sleep, interrogation by 5 shifts of police 5 hrs each
-threats of violence such that he would be a cripple
-sitting in on a perch for 20 hours, threatened with beating if he falls off
-any movement not approved by officers considered an attack on police and thus a beating is reasonable
-threats of violence against his wife, child and family (brother, nephew), as well as threats to interrogate his friends, coworkers
-deprivation of food and water
-unable to go to the washroom
-no medical treatment for injuries
-threaten with detention for 6 months, no one knows your whereabouts
-blow smoke in his face
-in detention center, not allowed to buy enough food and supplies

What police wanted:
-confession that he was anti-party, anti-socialist
-only 3 types of acceptable confessions: for fame, for profit, or to oppose the Party and socialism
-implication of other lawyers that participated in a Wechat discussion group, or other citizens
-admission of guilt, admission that no torture was used

Police tactics:
-The use of Wechat groups to show inclusion into an organization, even if there is no formal organization, and to implicate others
-no id, no uniform, no names, no complete records of sessions
-5 shifts of 5 hrs each, around the clock interrogation, sleep deprivation
-no written transcripts of interrogation for first 7 days
-confession in order to sleep
-written confessions, interview notes not submitted
-police would type up transcripts, he was forced to sign
-food in exchange for cooperation, signing statements
-after torture broke his will, increased guards from 2 to 4 to ensure no suicide
-police wrote and typed up transcripts, he signed them
-force other prisoners to isolate him
-not allowing private meeting with lawyer, police always in room, within earshot
-if he admitted guilt he would not be able to work as a lawyer ever again
-not able to meet with lawyers within 48 hrs, as by law
-police put pressure on wife to stop proclaiming he was innocent

English translation: Thank you very much, China, for your great effort 1, 2, 3, 4
NYT: Punches, Kicks and the ‘Dangling Chair’: Detainee Tells of Torture in China
Canada, 10 other countries call out China for torturing human rights lawyers
Residential Surveillance at Designated Location RSDL
The People’s Republic of the Disappeared: Stories from inside China’s system for enforced disappearances
Abductions by Chinese authorities detailed in US-published book
Chinese rights lawyer escapes jail term after admitting subversion: Xie Yang confesses, given no jail time

时间: 2017年01月04日15:08:56开始;
会见人 陈建刚律师、刘正清律师,以下简称律师;
记录: 陈建刚 ;
律师: 谢阳你好,我们是你妻子陈桂秋为你聘请的辩护律师陈建刚和刘正清,你是否同意?
律师: 今天我需要向你了解一下有关案件的情况,请你慢慢向我介绍一下你被抓捕、被审讯的情况好吗?
律师: 到了洪江市公安局,下一步做了什么?
律师: 当时有说对你拘留或者逮捕吗?为什么立即把你锁起来?
律师: 然后呢?
律师: 他们找你问了什么?
律师: 你是如何回答的?
谢:我回答这个群里面几乎都是律师,这只是我们有共同兴趣的人建立的一个群,是一个交流平台,没有任何组织者,每个人都是独立 平等的,相互之间没有隶属关系,仅仅是交流聊天所用,会发布一些信息,大家相互交流,甚至开玩笑等等。
律师: 然后呢?
律师: 再然后呢?
律师: 做完笔录然后呢?
律师: 然后呢?
律师: 然后呢?
律师: 再然后?
律师: 天亮以后呢?
律师: 然后呢?
律师: 你进去之后呢?

Date: January 4, 2017, 3:08:56 p.m. (interview start)

Location: Interview Room 2W, Changsha Number Two Detention Center
Interviewee: Xie Yang (谢阳, “Xie”)
Interviewers: Lawyers Chen Jiangang (陈建刚) and Liu Zhengqing (刘正清) (“Lawyers”)
Transcription by Chen Jian’gang

Lawyers: Hello, Xie Yang. We are Chen Jian’gang and Liu Zhengqing, defense lawyers hired by your wife, Chen Guiqiu (陈桂秋). Do you agree to these arrangements?

XIE: Yes, I agree to appoint you as my defense counsel.

LAWYERS: Today, we need to ask you some questions regarding the case. Could you please take your time and describe the circumstances of your detention and interrogation?

XIE: I was picked up in the early morning hours of July 11, 2015, at the Qianzhou Hotel in Hongjiang City, Hunan (湖南怀化洪江市托口镇黔洲大酒店). As I was sleeping, a bunch of people—some in plain clothes and others in police uniform—forced their way into my room. They didn’t display any identification but showed me an official summons for questioning before taking me away to the Hongjiang City Public Security Bureau. Everything I had with me, including my mobile phone, computer, identification card, lawyer’s license, wallet, bank cards, and briefcase were confiscated. When they got me downstairs, I saw there were three cars waiting. They sent around a dozen or so people to detain me.

LAWYERS: What happened next after you got to the Hongjiang City Public Security Bureau?

XIE: It was around 6 a.m. when we arrived at the station, at the crack of dawn. Someone took me to a room in the investigations unit and had me sit in an interrogation chair—the so-called “iron chair.” Once I sat down, they locked me into the shackles on the chair. From that point, I was shackled in whether or not they were questioning me.

LAWYERS: Did anyone at the time say that you had been placed under detention or arrest? Why did they immediately shackle you?

XIE: No, no one said anything about placing me under any of the statutory coercive measures. They just shackled me right away, and that’s how I stayed for over three hours. No one cared—they just left me shackled like that.

LAWYERS: What happened next?

XIE: Sometime after 9 a.m., two police officers came in. Neither of them showed me any paperwork or identification, either. I could tell by their accents that they weren’t local police from Hongjiang. They hadn’t been among the group that detained me, so they must have come later.

LAWYERS: What questions did they ask you?

XIE: They asked me whether I’d joined “that illegal organization the ‘Human Rights LAWYERS Group’” (人权律师团) and some other questions about the Human Rights Lawyers Group. I said that as far as I knew there was no organization called the “Human Rights Lawyers Group.” They said there was a chat group on WeChat, and I said I was a member of that group. They said: “The lawyers in that group are anti-Party and anti-socialist in nature.” Then they asked questions about who organized the group, what sort of things it did, and so on.

LAWYERS: How did you answer them?

XIE: I said that almost all the members of this group were lawyers and that it was a group set up by people with a common interest. I said it was a place for us to exchange information and that there was no organizer—everyone was independent and equal and there was no hierarchy of any kind. It was only a group for exchanging information and chatting amongst each other, sometimes even cracking jokes and things like that.

LAWYERS: What then?

XIE: Then, one of the officers asked whether we’d publicly issued any joint statements or opinions regarding certain cases in the name of the “Human Rights Lawyers Group.” I said that we had and that this was an act we took as individuals and that we signed as individuals, voluntarily.

Then they asked whether I was willing to quit the Human Rights Lawyers Group. I said that, first of all, since I hadn’t joined any organization called “Human Rights Lawyers Group,” there was no way I could leave it. Then they asked whether I’d be willing to quit the “Human Rights Lawyers Group” chat group. I said that I had the freedom to be part of the chat group and that they had no right to interfere.

LAWYERS: What happened after that?

XIE: They told me the Ministry of Public Security had passed judgment on the chat group known as the “Human Rights Lawyers Group,” saying that there were anti-Party, anti-socialist lawyers in the group. They said they hoped that I could see the situation clearly and that I’d be treated leniently if I cooperated with them. This lasted for more than an hour. They finally said: “Leaders in Beijing and the province are all involved in this case. If you quit the Human Rights Lawyers Group, you’ll be treated leniently.” I asked what they meant by “leniently.” They said I should know that lawyers from the group were being questioned throughout the country and said that there was a possibility that I’d be prosecuted if I continued to refuse to come to my senses.

LAWYERS: What then?

XIE: At the time I thought they’d only brought me in for a talking-to and to see whether I’d agree to quit the group. But I continued to say that the group was only a chat group. They made me give a statement to sign, two pages long, regarding the chat group. The summons said they were investigating “gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a work unit,” but there was no mention of that in the statement. They also asked me about some of the cases I’d been involved in, such as the Jiansanjiang case (建三江案) and the Qing’an shooting case (庆安枪击案). I told them I’d taken part, and they asked me who’d instructed me to do so. I said I went to take part in those cases of my own accord and that no one had instructed me to do anything. What’s more, I said that I’d been formally retained as a lawyer in those cases and that this fell within the scope of ordinary professional work. I’ve since seen my case file, and that statement isn’t in it.

LAWYERS: What happened after you gave your statement?

XIE: After I gave my statement, they said they were relatively satisfied with my attitude and they needed to report to their superiors. They also said that I should be able to receive lenient treatment. Then they left.

About 10 minutes or so later, sometime after 10:30, another police officer came in. He introduced himself as Li Kewei (李克伟) and said he was the ranking officer in charge of my case. I asked him how high a rank, and he drew a circle with his hand and said: “I’m in charge of this entire building.” I guessed he might be the chief or deputy chief of the Changsha Public Security Bureau. I later found out that Li Kewei was the head of the Domestic Security Unit at the Changsha Public Security Bureau.

LAWYERS: What happened then?

XIE: He told me he was not dissatisfied with my attitude. He said I’d only touched very lightly on my own actions and hadn’t “reflected” on things “deep enough in my heart.” He said: “You have to give a new statement, otherwise you won’t get any lenient treatment from us.”

I told him that I was disappointed in the way they were going back on their word. I asked what sort of “reflection” would qualify as “deep enough in my heart”—what was his standard?

He said: “We’re in charge of setting the standard.” I said that if they were in charge of the standard, then there was no way for me to assess it. I told him I was extremely disappointed by their lack of sincerity and that I was unwilling to cooperate with them.

LAWYERS: What happened next?

XIE: Another officer brought in my mobile phone and demanded that I enter the PIN so that they could access my phone. I told them they had no right to do that and I refused. I later found out that this officer was from the Huaihua Domestic Security Unit. He’s someone in charge of my case, but I don’t know his name.

LAWYERS: Then what happened?

XIE: Li Kewei said they weren’t after me and that he hoped I would change my attitude and cooperate with them. Then it was lunchtime. After lunch, there was no more discussion until 5 or 6 p.m. The police had an auxiliary officer stay with me. He didn’t let me sleep at night and kept me shackled like that up until daybreak. For the whole night, the auxiliary officer kept a close eye on me and didn’t let me sleep. As soon as I closed my eyes or nodded off, they would push me, slap me, or reprimand me. I was forced to keep my eyes open until dawn.

LAWYERS: What happened at dawn?

XIE: It must have been after five in the morning when five or six men burst in. Some were in plain clothes and some in uniform. They brought a faxed copy of a Decision on Residential Surveillance and had me sign it. After I signed, they brought me to a police car and took me away.

They drove me all the way to Changsha to a building that housed retired cadres from the National University of Defense Technology (国防科技大学). It was at 732 Deya Road in Kaifu District (开福区德雅路732号) — I saw this in my case file. I had no idea what sort of place it was when they brought me in. I only knew it was in Changsha, but I didn’t know where exactly.

In the car there was a police officer named Li Feng (李峰). I later learned he was from the Domestic Security Unit of the Hunan Provincial Public Security Bureau. He told me I’d already squandered one opportunity and said he hoped I would seize the next one and actively cooperate with them during my period of residential surveillance in a designated location. He said if I did, he’d report up to his superiors and seek lenient treatment for me. I thought that everything I’d done had been above board and I didn’t need to hide anything. I told them the PIN on my mobile phone and he was looking through my WeChat messages the whole ride over. He became very familiar with all that I’d done.

LAWYERS: What then?

XIE: It was about noon on July 12, 2015, when we got to the place in Changsha where they held me. They took me to that hotel and we entered through a side door. There were two police officers on either side of me, each grabbing hold of my arms and pressing on my neck to push me forward. They took me to a room on the second floor, which I later learned was Room 207. It was a relatively small room, with a small bed, two tables, and two chairs. There was a camera in the upper left corner as you entered the room.

LAWYERS: What happened after you went in?

XIE: After they brought me in, they had me sit on the chair. Three people stayed with me. None of them were police. I found out later that they were “chaperones” (陪护人员).

(The interview concluded at 4:54:45 p.m. on January 4, 2017.)

陈建刚律师: 【2017年01月05日09:23:32】今天刘律师回去了,我们继续开始笔录。(以下律师为陈建刚)
律师: 你被押到这个207房间的时候,从11日一个白天一个晚上,到现在半个白天,至少已经30个小时以上没有休息了,你有没有要求要休息一下?当时困不困啊?
律师: 你说一下到了房间后的事情?
律师: 都问了什么问题?
律师: 7月12日的这样讯问到什么时间?
律师: 还说了什么?
律师: 然后呢?
律师: 休息了多久?
律师: 13号是怎么度过的?
律师: 你仔细说一说审讯人员分班的情况?
律师: 你记得对你审讯的人员的姓名吗?
律师: 你详细说一下他们是如何对你进行审讯的?
律师: 你不可以稍稍活动一下,比如扭一下脸,弯一下腰吗?
律师: 打报告是如何打?
律师: 往后说?
律师: 然后呢?
律师: 他们有没有如实地把你的问题记录下来?
律师: 你说他们威胁你,辱骂你,他们是如何说的?
律师: 说说你身体状况,你这样被折磨了多久?
律师: 你当时做的笔录还有好多你自己的自述材料,是你真实意识表示吗?
律师: 这样,你对于你在本案中的笔录,还有你自己的自书材料,你是如何定性?这些材料属实吗?
律师: 【2017年01月05日11:24:22】上午就先到这里吧。下午我们继续。

(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.

XIE: Okay.

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)

律师: 除了不让你睡觉外,还有其他方式逼迫你吗?
律师: 然后呢?
律师: 你的腿出现症状以后,他们有没有停止对你的审讯然后为你治疗?
律师: 你有没有因为右腿浮肿的症状要求休息?
律师: 在这种不让睡觉、“吊吊椅”的方式下,你的笔录和自述与事实相符吗?
律师: 有人殴打过你吗?
律师: 什么时间、因为什么事情殴打你?
律师: 怎样殴打的?
律师: 你房间有摄像头吗?
律师: 当时有没有把你打出问题来?
律师: 你当时在他们殴打之后有没有屈服?
律师: 还有其他方式折磨你或让你难受的方式吗?
律师: 你说一下什么叫做烟熏?
律师: 他们还对你说过什么?
律师: 还说什么?
律师: 你有没有问他这是什么意思?
律师: 然后呢?还说过其他吗?
律师: 然后呢?还说过什么?
律师: 你在被指定监视居住期间能保证你的正常饮食吗?
律师: 在指定监视居住期间,除了殴打、威胁、“吊吊椅”、不让睡觉、不给水喝、烟熏眼睛这种方式之外,还有其他方式向你逼供吗?
律师: 你说说经过。
律师: 除了让你牵扯这些律师以外,还有其他人吗?
律师: 你拒绝了尹卓之后,他怎么说?
律师: 你是如何回答的?
律师: 这是你第二次拒绝尹卓,尹卓如何说?
律师: 今天就到这里吧,明天我们继续。

[The interview began at 2:49:55 p.m. on January 5, 2017.]

Chen Jiangang (陈建刚, “CHEN”): Let’s continue.

Xie Yang (谢阳, “XIE”): Okay.

CHEN: Other than not letting you sleep, were there other ways they used to coerce you?

XIE: Yes. They have a kind of slow torture called the “dangling chair.” It’s like I said before—they made me sit on a bunch of plastic stools stacked on top each other, 24 hours a day except for the two hours they let me sleep. They make you sit up there, with both feet unable to touch the ground. I told them that my right leg was injured from before, and that this kind of torture would leave me crippled. I told all of the police who came to interrogate me. They all said: “We know. Don’t worry, we have it under control.” Some also said: “Don’t give us conditions—you’ll do what we tell you to do!”

CHEN: What next?

XIE: No one had any sympathy for my situation. They just deliberately tortured and tormented me. Every day, I had to sit there for more than 20 hours, both legs dangling in such pain until they became numb. Afterwards, my right leg began to swell from top to bottom. It was summer, and my thigh and calf were both severely swollen.

CHEN: After your leg began showing symptoms, did they stop interrogating you and provide you with any medical treatment?

XIE: No. That went on for more than 20 hours a day. They just gave me some Chinese medicine to rub on my legs.

CHEN: Did you ask for time to rest because your right leg was swollen?

XIE: Sure, but it was no use. Yin Zhuo (尹卓), Zhou Yi (周毅), Qu Ke (屈可) and the other police who interrogated me were deliberately trying to torment me—they even said so clearly. Making someone sit on a “dangling chair” for 20 hours a day is a kind of slow torture. It causes lumbar pain and pain in the legs, but it’s slow and doesn’t leave any external injuries. When you add sleep deprivation to that, this is a way to torture people that doesn’t cause external injuries and doesn’t leave any scars.

CHEN: Considering the sleep deprivation and the “dangling chair,” were the transcripts of your interrogations and the statements you signed factual?

XIE: There was no way to match the facts. They weren’t happy with what I wrote and made me rewrite it. Every time they didn’t like my answer to one of their questions, they would keep asking me again and again. They clearly told me: “We’ve got all the time in the world. You’re in residential surveillance for six months. If you don’t behave and obey, we’ll continue to torment you.”

They wanted answers to fit their three options—fame, profit, or opposing the Party and socialism. I could only choose from those options. To get it over with sooner, I wrote whatever they wanted me to write. Later, I completely broke down. It got to the point where I was crying as they questioned me and had me write statements. I really couldn’t write anymore. I told them to type something up and I’d sign it, no matter what it said. I didn’t want to go on living. I couldn’t take it anymore—I just wanted to sleep for a little while.

CHEN: Did anyone beat you?

XIE: Yes, I was beaten many times by Zhou Lang (周浪), Yin Zhuo, Zhuang Xiaoliang (庄晓亮) and some others.

CHEN: When and why did they beat you?

XIE: They said I wasn’t being cooperative in the way I was writing statements. They wanted me to write according to what they wanted, even if it didn’t match the facts at all. They tried to force me, and I refused. There were other times when I was simply too tired and I couldn’t even pick up the pen. Mostly it was during the fourth shift, from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. When I couldn’t write, they would beat me.

CHEN: How would they beat you?

XIE: Several of them would come over and pull me up. Then they’d split up the work: one or two would grab my arms while someone used their fists to punch me in the stomach, kneed me in the stomach, or kicked me with their feet.

CHEN: Was there a camera in the room?

XIE: Yes, there was, and it should have been working normally. Every time they beat me they would drag me to a blind spot just below the camera where it couldn’t capture what they were doing. I knew what they were thinking, so each time they beat me I would deliberately move to a spot where the camera could see what was going on. Later, Yin Zhuo said to me: “You think the camera is going to help you? I tell you, we control the camera, so don’t think it’ll do any good for you to be in its view. This is a case of counterrevolution! Do you think the Communist Party will let you go? I could torture you to death and no one could help you . . . .”

CHEN: Did those beatings lead to any injuries?

XIE: There were no external injuries—they just wanted to cause pain. They’d mainly target the lower body, from the stomach down, so there’d be no visible injuries.

CHEN: Did you give in after being beaten by them?

XIE: Yes, I wanted to be done with the interrogations as quickly as possible, even if it meant dying. So whatever they wanted me to write, I wrote. I also signed a lot of interrogation transcripts that they typed up. They didn’t let me make any suggestions, let alone make changes. At first I demanded to make changes, because the transcripts were all lies. But they didn’t agree and said I was being dishonest. Later, I could only sign the transcripts. Whatever they wanted to type up, they would type up. I had no right to make any objections or changes.

CHEN: Were there other ways that they tortured you or caused you discomfort?

XIE: Yes. Between the 13th and the 19th, they also used smoke to torture me.

CHEN: Can you explain what that entailed?

XIE: There were several people among the police who interrogated me who weren’t the ones mainly responsible for the interrogation. But eventually their shifts would come up. A couple of them would sit on either side of me, and each would light some cigarettes and put them together. The two of them would puff on the cigarettes and then blow the smoke toward my face while I was forced to sit there. All of the breathing space around my head was smoke. I said: “It’s not too appropriate for you to do that, is it?” They said: “What can you do about it? We’ll smoke like this if we want!” So they kept on “smoking” me like that. It wasn’t to force me to confess; it was just to torment me and make me miserable.

After the first seven days, they figured I’d already been tormented. So later when they’d make me sign interrogation records, if I didn’t cooperate or raised objections or asked for changes, they’d say: “Xie Yang, do you need to be sent back to the furnace for a while?” They were threatening to torture me again. They also said: “Xie Yang, we’ll torture you to death just like an ant.”

CHEN: What else did they say to you?

XIE: From start to finish, they used my family and child to threaten me. They said: “Your wife is a professor at Hunan University–surely she must have ‘economic problems’? [e. g. corruption] If you don’t cooperate, we might be forced to expand this matter. If you don’t come clean and explain things clearly, we’ll go after your wife without a doubt.”

They said: “And we know your brother’s a civil servant, a minor official. Surely he has some problems we could investigate? And we know you have a nephew who has bright prospects and works at the Hunan Bureau of Letters and Visits. Is he really that clean? Don’t force us to go and investigate them.”

They also threatened my children, saying: “Your daughter Xie Yajuan is a student at Bocai Middle School in Changsha. If her classmates and teachers knew that her father was a counterrevolutionary, could she even raise her head up? How could she ever get a job as a civil servant in the future?”

CHEN: What else did they say?

XIE: Yin Zhuo and the others also threatened the lives of my wife and children. The exact words were: “Your wife and children need to pay attention to traffic safety when they’re out in the car. There are a lot of traffic accidents these days.”

CHEN: Did you ask what he meant by that?

XIE: No, I knew what it meant. I was extremely scared then. They used my wife and children to threaten me [starts to sob]. I said: “If that’s what you want to do, there’s nothing I can do about it. I’ve answered all of your questions truthfully. I’m locked up here. If that’s what you want to do, there’s nothing I can do about it.”

CHEN: What then? Did they say anything else?

XIE: They said a lot. For example: “We know all about how many women you have out there. Don’t make us tell your wife—it would have an impact on your family.” I said, if you’ve found something go ahead and tell my wife. They thought I was just like them.

CHEN: What else?

XIE: They threatened to investigate my friends. Yin Zhuo said: “It would be easy for us to expand the scope of our investigation. We have plenty of resources. If you don’t cooperate with us, we can investigate your friends one by one and put them through the wringer. We’ve got the resources and we have our methods. In this case, there’s no limit to how far we can take the investigation—that includes your law firm, your friends and colleagues. We’ll go after whomever we please and deal with them however we want.” This type of threat permeated the entire interrogation process, especially during the first seven days.

CHEN: And then? What else did they say?

XIE: They mainly used my children to threaten me [starts to sob]. Yin Zhuo said: “We’ve arrested a bunch of lawyers. Lawyer Zhang Lei (张磊) has been arrested in Zhejiang.” I cried for a long time when I heard that. Zhang Lei had a newborn baby at the time I was arrested, just over a month old. I was very sad when I heard that Zhang Lei had been arrested and cried for a long time because I was worried both for his child and for mine.

CHEN: What next?

XIE: Zhuang Xiaoliang and Yin Zhuo said to me: “We’re mainly looking at your attitude. Your case is the number one case up above. You think you can go to Beijing and file complaints about mistakes we’ve made—don’t you think Beijing knows we’re putting you through all this? We’ll make you suffer any way we please!”

CHEN: Was your ordinary access to food and drink ensured while you were in residential surveillance in a designated location?

XIE: No, they deliberately didn’t let me drink water. At 11:30 a.m. someone would deliver food, but each time they wouldn’t let me eat and deliberately dragged on and didn’t let me eat until after 1 p.m. By that time, the food was already cold.

They didn’t let me drink water during their interrogations. If I wanted a drink, I needed to request permission but they wouldn’t let me drink. They’d deliberately put water in front of me, but they wouldn’t let me drink any—that sort of thing. They’d put the water in front of me, but they used control over one of my basic needs—the need to drink water—to make me miserable.

Once I was so thirsty that I started drinking from a bottle of water they’d put in front of me. Zhou Yi snatched it away and started beating me, saying that I’d tried to attack a police officer.

CHEN: During the period of residential surveillance in a designated location, other than beatings, threats, the “dangling chair,” sleep deprivation, and smoke in your eyes, were there other methods they used to coerce you?

XIE: They also tried to induce me to implicate and frame other people. They said they wanted me to inform and expose.

CHEN: Explain what happened.

XIE: It was probably the middle of August 2015. The first round of concentrated interrogations was over. Because I couldn’t take the torture anymore, I’d signed anything they wanted me to sign. That was over. Yin Zhuo and the rest now wanted me to implicate and frame other people. Yin Zhuo said to me: “Xie Yang, you’ve only been a lawyer for three years. Even if you did bad things every day during that time, it wouldn’t amount to much. If you implicate other members of the Human Rights Lawyers Group (人权律师团), you’d be performing meritorious service and could get lenient treatment. You could implicate Liu Weiguo (刘卫国), Liu Jinxiang (刘金湘), Chen Jiangang, Zhang Lei, Qin Yongpei (覃永沛), Zhu Xiaoding (朱孝顶), Pang Kun (庞琨), Chang Boyang, (常伯阳), Ge Wenxiu (葛文秀), Sui Muqing (隋牧青), Wen Donghai (文东海), Cai Ying (蔡瑛), Yang Jinzhu (杨金柱), or Hu Linzheng (胡林政). Inform on any one of them, and you’ll be performing meritorious service. We’ll report it up to our superiors and get you released on bail.”

CHEN: How did you answer?

XIE: I said there’s no organization called “Human Rights Lawyers Group”—it’s just a chat group, not an organization. I said I’m an independent person and don’t take orders from anyone. I don’t have a lot of contacts with other lawyers and haven’t had too many interactions with the lawyers you’ve named. I don’t have anything to offer you. I refused to frame other lawyers.

CHEN: Besides implicating other lawyers, did they want you to inform on anyone else?

XIE: Yes, Yin Zhuo also named a number of citizens, like Ou Biaofeng (欧彪峰) in Changsha and Zhai Yanmin (翟岩民) in Beijing. There were a bunch of other names that I didn’t recognize. Yin Zhuo and the others wanted me to inform on and frame them. They brought in a bunch of documents on Ou Biaofeng for me to look at in order to get me to implicate and expose him. They prompted me to try and get me to say what communications I’d had with them, what sorts of cases I’d handled with them, and that sort of thing. I refused.

CHEN: What did Yin Zhuo say after you refused?

XIE: He was very disappointed. After another week, he came to see me and said: “Forget about the others. We’ve asked the main responsible persons in the Changsha Domestic Security Unit. They said if you can report on and expose things that Hunan lawyers Cai Ying (蔡瑛) and Yang Jinzhu (杨金柱) did—even one of them is enough—they’ll give you lenient treatment and we can release you on bail.”

CHEN: How did you reply?

XIE: I said I wanted to perform meritorious service but that I hadn’t had much interaction with Yang Jinzhu and hadn’t ever seen him in Changsha. I said I wanted to report on and expose any wrongdoing, but I didn’t really know anything about him and didn’t have any materials to give them. As for Lawyer Cai Ying, I said even though I knew him we hadn’t worked together and I didn’t have any materials on him either. I said we’d only eaten a few meals together and had a few drinks—no interaction beyond that.

CHEN: That was the second time you refused Yin Zhuo. What did he say?

XIE: Yin Zhuo said he was giving me a chance and I was squandering it. He said I was asking for punishment by not accepting the opportunities he was offering me.

CHEN: Let’s stop here for today and continue again tomorrow.

(The interview concluded at 4:56:06 p.m. on January 5, 2017.)

律师: 【2017年01月06日09:47:50】现在我们继续聊。你拒绝尹卓以后,发生了什么事情?
律师: 继续说。
律师: 我注意到你是2015年7月12日被带走监视居住,但对你的审讯笔录却是从7月19日开始的,你如何解释?
律师: 你对于案卷中你亲自签字过的笔录还有你自书的材料,你是如何评价?
律师: 笔录中有很多自污的说法,还有所谓的反党反社会主义、反对现行体制的笔录,你如何认为?
律师: 笔录我们就先做到这里。这几天的笔录,你所说的都是真实的吗?
律师: 你仔细看看笔录,下午我把打印稿拿来你核对后签字。

[The interview began at 9:47:50 a.m. on January 6, 2017]

Chen Jiangang (陈建刚, “CHEN”): Let’s continue our conversation. What happened after you refused the attempts by Yin Zhuo (尹卓) to get you to implicate others?

XIE: I tend to be constipated and need to eat fruit; otherwise the condition can get rather serious. I couldn’t even drink water while I was locked up, so my constipation got very serious and I was in extreme pain. I asked them to give me some fruit to eat. They didn’t give me any at first, but later they wanted me to trade. I would have to write a statement according to what they wanted, and in exchange they’d give me some fruit. Or they’d give me fruit if I signed the transcripts they wanted me to sign. I had no choice—I wasn’t allowed to sleep and I was in physical pain. Eventually, I wrote whatever they wanted me to write and signed whatever they wanted me to sign. By that time, I was completely broken.

CHEN: Please continue.

XIE: On October 24, I inexplicably began to shiver all over and broke out in a cold sweat. I was terrified and said I wanted to get myself checked out in a hospital. They reported the situation to Ye Yun (叶云, political instructor with the 6th Division of the Changsha Domestic Security Unit). Ye Yun came and said they couldn’t let me go to the hospital, but if I was sick they could arrange for someone to come and examine me. I didn’t trust their doctors.

I was afraid that I was going to die there and that my wife and child wouldn’t know [begins to sob]. I began to shout from the window: “This is Lawyer Xie Yang! I’m being held here by the Changsha Domestic Security Police! No one has notified my family! Please let my wife know that I’m ill and need medical treatment!” There were some people outside walking around. I shouted and told them my wife’s name, work unit, and telephone number and asked them to call my wife.

That evening at 9:46, Ye Yun used his mobile phone to dial the emergency rescue hotline. While we were waiting for an ambulance to arrive, a man came in wearing civilian clothes. He was big and strong, and with one hand against my chest he pushed me up against the wall so that I couldn’t move and could barely breathe. With his other hand he slapped me back and forth several times across the face. I was in great pain from the pressure on my chest. I couldn’t speak and the blows to my head left me semi-conscious.

About 20 minutes later, the ambulance arrived. At first they didn’t let the paramedics examine me; instead, they took them outside to give them instructions. Then a young guy by the name of Wang examined me very briefly. He didn’t give me any treatment or medication. He told them to continue observing me and then he left.

CHEN: I noticed that you were placed under residential surveillance on July 12, 2015, but that your interrogation records only start on July 19. How do you explain that?

XIE: There are a lot of records of interrogations from the first seven days, but they don’t note the sequence. I asked that they mark the transcripts clearly, but they said it was none of my business. None of those transcripts are in the case file, because I still hadn’t surrendered to their torture yet. So they haven’t brought out any of those records. The interrogation on July 19 was certainly not the first. From the early morning of July 11 I wasn’t allowed to sleep. After three days of that treatment, I broke down. The things I wrote were all written under that kind of coercion.

CHEN: What’s your assessment of the transcripts you personally signed and the documents you wrote, all of which are in your case file?

XIE: There are generally two types. The first type is made up of documents concerning basic facts, in which there are some inaccuracies. That’s because they didn’t accept the facts as I stated them and insisted that I make a record according to what they wanted. So, I can’t guarantee that the factual parts are entirely factual. The second type are the “reflections.” These are wholly untruthful, as they were written under coercion. If I hadn’t written them, hadn’t signed my name, I would have died there in that guesthouse.

They deliberately tortured me past the point I could bear it. I wanted to kill myself. To prevent me from doing so, they increased the number of “chaperones” (陪护人员) from two to three. The three of them surrounded me, watching me carefully lest I try to kill myself. After the first seven days, they interrogated me during the daytime and stopped at night. After about 20 days, they were afraid I’d kill myself and the number of chaperone shifts increased from three to four, with the number on each shift increasing from two to three. They watched me closely every minute, afraid that I would try to kill myself by ramming my head against the wall. In that state of wanting to die but not being able to do so, if I didn’t follow one of the three options they gave me and say in my statements that I acted for fame, for profit, or to oppose the Party and socialism, I would have been tortured to death. I had no other choice.

CHEN: In the interrogation transcripts there are a lot of statements where you say detrimental things about yourself and say that you opposed the Party, socialism, and the current political system. What’s your opinion of those documents?

XIE: I didn’t say any of those things and I would never use such language. Those transcripts were typed up by the police; I was only forced to sign them. Folders of transcripts without a single correction or amendment—could that possibly be for real? I read the transcripts and said that those weren’t my words. I asked for an accurate record and requested changes. Yin Zhuo said: “We don’t allow changes to transcripts in our public security unit.” So I could only sign. They didn’t let me sleep for the first seven days and tortured and tormented me until I agreed to sign. So that’s how there came to be so many transcripts from the 19th on.

CHEN: Let’s end the interview here for now. Have you told the truth in these interviews the past few days?

XIE: Yes, it’s the truth. This is how I was treated during residential surveillance.

CHEN: Please read the transcript carefully. This afternoon I’ll bring you a typed version for you to check and sign.

XIE: All right.

[Signed by Xie Yang and his lawyer]

I have read the transcript above and it matches what I have said.

Xie Yang
January 6, 2017
CHEN Jiangang [lawyer]

时间: 2017年01月12日14:45:48 开始;
会见人 陈建刚律师,以下简称律师;
记录: 陈建刚 ;

律师: 谢阳你好,我们继续接着上次的事情谈。
2016年1月8日检察院决定对我逮捕,1月9日给我看逮捕证。其实 这都是走一个过场。因为看守所在1月6日的时候就已经为我准备房间了。
谢: 到了16年8月9日,这是我在公安局手中控制的最后期限,如果移送审查起诉警方就不能控制我了,他们将没有权力来禁止律师会见了。案卷中长沙市公安局《起诉意见书》中的日期是2016年8月5日,但8月4人就给了我移送审查起诉告知书。我以为这个时候我家属为我聘请的辩护律师可以来会见我了。但对我的迫害是从公安局一直延续到检察院的,检察院完全配合长沙市公安局来继续整我。

Date: January 12, 2017
Location: Interview Room 2W, Changsha Number Two Detention Center
Interviewee: Xie Yang (谢阳, “XIE”)
Interviewer: Lawyer Chen Jian’gang (陈建刚, “CHEN”)
Transcription by Chen Jiangang

[The interview began at 2:45:48 p.m.]

CHEN: Hello, Xie Yang. Let’s continue where we left off last time.

XIE: Okay.

CHEN: First, I want to convey greetings and concern from many friends on the outside who urge you to take good care of yourself.

XIE: Thanks, everyone [quietly chokes back tears].

CHEN: Can you recall whether the police who interrogated you ever gave you a formal summons notice or any other legal documents while you were being held in residential surveillance in a designated location?

XIE: No. They took shifts around the clock. I had police around me all the time, but they never gave me any summons notice.

CHEN: When did you get to the detention center? Did things improve once you got here?

XIE: I was brought to the detention center on January 9, 2016. There was no improvement, and the coercion continued.

Before I was brought to the detention center, while still in residential surveillance, Yin Zhuo (尹卓) and the others became very deliberate and obvious in their questioning. Because time had run out and I had to be sent to the detention center, they wanted some records showing me saying that they had not tortured me. They wanted to get me on the record admitting that no one had tortured me and then get me to sign the transcript, but I refused to cooperate.

In my case file, the transcript of the interrogation on December 21, 2015, shows them asking me whether my legal rights had been protected during the period of residential surveillance in a designated location, to which I answered that they had been “basically protected.” That’s the record I signed. By “basically protected,” I mean that they ensured that I stayed alive and didn’t torture me to death—that’s all. That’s the most I could say. Had I said that they tortured me into confessing, they wouldn’t record my words on paper and they’d keep on tormenting me. They were very unhappy with this interrogation record and wanted me to state clearly that no one had ever used torture against me and protected my rights 100 percent. But I refused.

In the last period right before leaving the Yitian Guesthouse (颐天宾馆) where they’d held me, they repeatedly came to get me to record a statement. They had only one goal: to get me to inadvertently confirm with my signature that they hadn’t tortured me and that they’d protected my rights. But I didn’t fall for their tricks. So, there are a lot of records that didn’t get put in the case file.

The procuratorate issued its arrest decision on January 8, 2016, and I was shown the arrest warrant on January 9. But actually, this was only a formality as the detention center had already started preparing my cell on January 6.

CHEN: How do you know that the detention center had already started preparing your cell?

XIE: I found out after I got here. Each cell at the detention center houses more than 25 people, sometimes as many as 30. Every cell is like that. When I got here, they put me in Cell 10 on the 4E Block. Originally, there were 28 people in there, but on January 6 they suddenly transferred 14 people to other cells and installed a high-definition camera inside. To this day, there are still 15 people in our cell—a unique situation in the detention center. The high-definition camera is also unique. Everyone in the cell knows that it’s there for me. They prepared the cell on January 6 and issued the arrest warrant on January 9. It was clearly only a formality.

CHEN: Can you describe your situation since coming to the detention center? Are your fundamental human rights being protected? Or have they continued to coerce you?

XIE: After arriving at the detention center on January 9, I was initially rather well taken care of. But they had their objectives. My counselor is named Yuan Jin (袁进) — make a note of that name, because he’s done lots of terrible things to me. At first, Yuan Jin treated me well, continually urging me to admit guilt and cooperate with the police. But I wasn’t guilty of anything and hadn’t committed any crimes, so of course I wasn’t going to go against my conscience and admit guilt. These admonitions went on for three months. Then in March 2016, Yuan Jin saw that I wasn’t listening to him and so he started tormenting me.

CHEN: You say Yuan Jin tormented you — how?

XIE: First, he got my cellmates to shun me by clearly prohibiting others from having any interaction with me. They weren’t allowed to speak to me, lend me anything, or play cards or chess with me. Anyone who dared have any interaction or communication with me would be transferred to another cell to become the “new boy.”

CHEN: What does that mean, “new boy”?

XIE: This is jailhouse lingo. Someone who’s been in a cell for a long time is called an “old boy.” A new arrival is called the “new boy.” “New boys” all get bullied and are given more work, while “old boys” have prestige and aren’t bullied on account of their status as veterans. Plus, they get special treatment. So no one wants to go to a new cell and become a “new boy” again.

CHEN: Besides getting cellmates to shun you, were there other methods?

XIE: Yes. Officer Yuan Jin cut off my right to spend money. In jail we get 260 yuan each month for living expenses, but this is far from enough and you have to spend your own money to buy things. That’s the money that gets deposited in your account by family and friends. Everyone can use their own money to purchase some food, otherwise you don’t get enough to eat. Yuan Jin prohibited me from spending money, from purchasing any daily-use items. I didn’t get enough to eat and had no vegetables. I wasn’t allowed to buy daily necessities like toothpaste or toilet paper. I was deeply distressed—everyone had been threatened not to speak with me or lend me anything. I didn’t even have toilet paper when I went to the toilet [chokes with sobs]. But I still didn’t give in and didn’t admit guilt.

CHEN: What happened then?

XIE: It’s been over a year since I was brought to the detention center on January 9, 2015. During this year, all the police, procurators, detention center counsellors, and officials who’ve come to see me all have had a single goal: to get me to admit guilt. I have some notes [searches through notes] . . . I’ve made note of the times. Let me tell you about them one by one.

My case is a political case. I anticipated that they would stretch the time limits in this case to the maximum limit possible under the law. Six months of investigation during residential surveillance plus two months under arrest, extended first for one month, then another two, and finally two more months. They stretched the investigation phase of the case as far as they could, to August 9, 2016.

On July 21, 2016, Li Feng (李峰) of the Hunan Domestic Security Unit and Zhu Heng (朱恒) of the Sixth Division of the Changsha Domestic Security Unit came to see me together with Zhang Zhongshi (张重实), the lawyer my family had hired on my behalf. They had also come to urge me to admit guilt. Li Feng said he’d come on behalf of the provincial public security department and hoped I’d admit guilt. I asked if this was a meeting with my lawyer. They said it was. I said, if that’s so please excuse yourselves. But Li Feng and Zhu Heng didn’t leave and stood right outside so that Lawyer Zhang and I couldn’t even exchange a few words with each other.

For a few days in early August 2016—before the 9th, someone from the Domestic Security Unit of the Hunan Provincial Public Security Department: Li Kewei (李克伟), head of the Changsha Public Security Bureau’s Domestic Security Unit, and Wang Tietuo (王铁铊), head of the Sixth Division of the Changsha Domestic Security Unit, came together to see me—there were five or six of them in all. The detention center officials arranged for them to meet with me in the detention center office.

CHEN: Wait a minute. They met with you in the office, rather than in an interrogation room?

XIE: They don’t have to obey any laws or institutional rules! They came to get me to admit guilt. At the time, I thought that if admitting guilt would lead to lenient treatment that would ensure I could continue to work as a lawyer after I got out, I could discuss it. They were happy to hear that and immediately reported my answer up to their superiors and got someone to look up the regulations. What they found was that commission of an intentional crime would mean that I’d be unable to be a lawyer. Under those circumstances, I refused to admit guilt, since I’d committed no crime to begin with. We discussed it for three or four hours, but ultimately I still refused to admit guilt. They said over and over that I shouldn’t make things difficult for myself, that I mustn’t waste this opportunity, that I shouldn’t turn my back on their good intentions.

Li Kewei had promised Yuan Jin, my counsellor at the detention center, that if Yuan could help get me to give in and admit guilt, then Li would help him get a transfer to a police station in Changsha’s Gaoxin District.

CHEN: You say Li Kewei made a promise to Yuan Jin—how do you know that?

XIE: Yuan Jin said so himself. He once told me that he hoped I’d hurry up and admit guilt. He said: “Admit your guilt—once you’re gone, I can get a transfer to work at that police station in Gaoxin District.” I’ve forgotten which police station exactly.

CHEN: What next?

XIE: August 9, 2016, was the last day the public security bureau could hold me. Once they transferred the case for prosecution they had no more control over me and they’d have no power to prevent me from meeting with my lawyer. The date on the Changsha Public Security Bureau’s prosecution recommendation is August 5, 2016, but on August 4 they’d already delivered me notice that my case was being reviewed for prosecution. I thought that this meant that the lawyers my family had hired could now come meet with me. But my persecution shifted from the public security bureau to the procuratorate. The procuratorate fully cooperated with the Changsha Public Security Bureau to continue treating me badly.

[A police officer enters to say that time is up.]

CHEN: That’s all for today. Let’s continue tomorrow.

[The interview concluded at 4:29:39 p.m. on January 12, 2017.]

其他检察官来提审还比较含蓄,提示我认罪,其中检察官段小龙比较露骨,他找我谈就是两项目标,一个是恐吓,一个是要求我认罪。段小龙恐吓我“你要认罪。有些话你不能乱说,有些事情你不能向检察官说。” 他说的不能说的事情就是不能对外说我曾经受过刑讯逼供的事情。什么检察官审查起诉,这都是假的,公安局和检察院是联合起来整我,制造政治冤案。他们没有权利的制衡,有的是合作。

[The interview resumed at 9:30:38 a.m. on January 13, 2017.]

CHEN: Let’s continue where we left off yesterday. You said that the procuratorate and the public security bureau were working together to treat you badly. Why do you say that?

XIE: I later met with my lawyer, Zhang Zhongshi. He told me that he and my other lawyer Lin Qilei (蔺其磊) had been coming to the detention center every day in order to meet with me. Morning, afternoon—it didn’t matter. The detention center said they couldn’t meet with me because I’d been taken for questioning by the prosecutors. I had, in fact, been taken for questioning. But the law says that they have to arrange for lawyers to meet with a detainee within 48 hours. To the detention center, the procuratorate, and the public security bureau, the law was nothing but a piece of scrap paper.

CHEN: Why do you say that?

XIE: Those days, the procurators from the Changsha Procuratorate took me out for questioning every day from 9 a.m. until the detention center offices closed at 4:30 p.m. Every day they came to question me like that, just so they could refuse to let my lawyers meet with me.

There were eight procurators in all who came to meet with me. For an entire week, they took me out for questioning every day. After the week was over, they sent the case back for additional investigation. The case was then back in the hands of the public security bureau. They’d successfully used the excuse of questioning me to obstruct my lawyers from meeting with me.

Write down these names: Duan Xiaolong (段小龙), Jiang Bin (姜彬), Li Zhiming (李治明), Wang Zhiyong (王志勇), Fang Hui (方惠), Hu Yongchao (胡勇超), and Li Weining (李维宁). There was also a deputy division head surnamed Jin whose full name I don’t know. Li Weining is the head of the Second Public Prosecution Division at the Changsha Procuratorate (长沙市检察院公诉二处处长). He’s not in charge of this case and only came to see me with one objective: to get me to admit guilt. He hinted that I shouldn’t say anything about the public security bureau’s torture of me. He also said that public security and the procuratorate had gone to officials at Hunan University to speak to my wife and ask her to cooperate. They put pressure on her to stop going around to proclaim my innocence.

The other prosecutors were more reserved in their attempts to get me to admit guilt. But Duan Xiaolong was relatively blatant. He had two objectives in his discussions with me: one was to intimidate me, the other was to try to get me to admit guilt. Duan Xiaolong said: “You have to admit guilt. There are some things you can’t go around saying, some things you can’t say to the prosecutors.” He meant I couldn’t go around telling people on the outside about how I’d been subjected to torture. What kind of prosecutorial review by the procuratorate was this—it was all a sham! The public security bureau and procuratorate were working together against me to manufacture this political miscarriage of justice. There’s no balance of powers, only cooperation!

CHEN: What happened after your case was sent back for review?

XIE: On August 16, 2016, the case was sent back to the public security bureau and my lawyer was still prohibited from meeting with me. Actually, there was no real additional investigation. The two consecutive periods of additional investigation were only about one thing: extending the legal time limit to its furthest extent in order to get me to give in and admit guilt.

On September 28, 2016, Li Weining of the Changsha Procuratorate came to see me again and get me to admit guilt and to not go around talking out of turn—by which he meant talking about the way I’d been tortured and mistreated. Li came again on October 9 to tell me to admit guilt and keep my mouth shut. Li came once again on October 17, with the same mission. He never came to discuss the details of the case. There were only two objectives: to get me to admit guilt and keep my mouth shut.

On October 26, 2016, during the last period of additional investigation, domestic security police Hu Yunfeng (胡云峰) and Ye Yun (叶云) came to see me and get me to admit guilt and keep my mouth shut. Hu Yunfeng explicitly told me that they had all of the audio and video recordings from my time in residential surveillance. All the investigators knew that they had the video. There’s a transcript of that conversation, but it’s not in the case file. Take a look at the interrogation records; if there’s a record of the interrogation, they should have a record of that conversation. But I can’t guarantee that the procuratorate or the detention center will give those documents to you as a defense lawyer.

The following day, October 27, 2016, Wang Tietuo of the Changsha Domestic Security Unit and Ye Yun came to see me again to try to get me to admit guilt and to tell me to keep my mouth shut. They didn’t make a record of that.

On November 4, Li Kewei of the Changsha Domestic Security Unit came by himself to see me. The detention center arranged for him to meet with me in the office, like they’d done at the beginning of August. Li Kewei had the same two demands: admit guilt and shut mouth.

On November 14, 2016, Li Kewei met me alone in the detention center office. He hoped I’d seize the opportunity, admit guilt, and keep my mouth shut.

On December 7, 2016, the head of the Second Public Prosecution Division of the Hunan Procuratorate, Li Xiaohong (刘晓红), came together with Li Weining of the Changsha Procuratorate to meet me at the detention center and express the hope, on behalf of the provincial procuratorate, that I would seize the opportunity, admit guilt, and keep my mouth shut.

CHEN: Has anyone come to speak with you since I became your defense lawyer?

XIE: Yes. When you were prevented from meeting with me on the morning of January 6, 2017, officials from the detention center came to see me. The gist of their message was: “Don’t trust your lawyer. Lawyers can’t save you. Your only path is to trust the party and the government. The only way you’ll get to go home early is by admitting guilt and submitting to the law’s judgment.” I just listened. I knew that my lawyers had already arrived and they were preventing them from meeting with me.

Then there was another time on January 11. Three people came: my brother, Xie Yangde (谢扬德), Wang Dehua (王德华), deputy head of the Changsha Domestic Security Unit, and Xie Leshi (谢乐石), head of the Dongkou County Domestic Security Unit. Wang Dehua and Xie Leshi explicitly said that they had no power to seek a meeting with me during this phase of the case but explained that they’d come to see me at the request of my brother and did not represent their respective units. Xie Leshi threatened me, saying my posts on WeChat and Weibo would get me a sentence of at least five years with no cap—the sentence could run as high as 15 or 20 years.

CHEN: What do you make of the fact that so many people from the police and the procuratorate have come to see you so many times in order to try to get you to admit guilt?

XIE: I’m innocent, completely innocent. Even though I signed some self-incriminating statements after being tortured to the point where I didn’t want to live anymore, those aren’t the facts and they don’t prove that I’ve committed a crime. I have freedom of expression and the statements I made on Weibo and WeChat were my right. How can that be inciting subversion of political power?

CHEN: Are you going to admit guilt? Or, put another way, if the authorities come and say they’ll release you or grant you bail if you admit guilt, will you do so?

XIE: I haven’t admitted guilt up to now. Trying to get me to do so is kind of a ridiculous idea. Am I guilty just because I admit guilt? Isn’t that how things worked during the Cultural Revolution? If I admit guilt, don’t you have to consider the law and the evidence?

But there’s one thing I need to make clear to you. As of today, I haven’t admitted guilt. I tell you now—I declare of my own free will, that I, Xie Yang, am innocent. If, at some point after today, January 13, 2017, there were to appear any document or audiovisual recording of me admitting guilt, it would not be the truth and would not reflect my real inner thoughts. Even if I admit guilt, it doesn’t make me guilty. That depends on the law and the evidence.

Even if I were one day to admit guilt, it would be because I was forced to make some deal or forced to do so because I was tortured. I am completely innocent, but because of some of the things I’ve posted and because I’ve taken part in some rights defense cases, the Changsha Public Security Bureau is out to get me. They are the real criminals and murderers. If, in the future, I were to make any admissions of guilt, it would be a kind of trade. I know my family wants to see me very much and my parents are advanced in years and miss me very much. If I admit guilt, it will be in exchange for preserving my life. Today [January 13, 2017], while I am allowed to express myself truthfully to my lawyer, I want to say clearly that I am innocent.

CHEN: Do you want or agree to authorize me to release the record of our interviews to the public?

XIE: I authorize my defense lawyers, Chen Jiangang and Liu Zhengqing (刘正清), to decide to release the record of our interviews to the public at a certain time.

[The end of the transcript.]

Addendum 2017-Mar-08 Xie Yang’s handwritten letter stating:
-He met with his lawyer, the transcript is accurate and he is innocent
-since July 2015 he has been tortured
-if he confesses, do not believe it, as it has been done under torture

Xie Yang handwritten letter, Changsha, China 2017 Jan 13

Xie Yang handwritten letter, Changsha, China 2017 Jan 13

Addendum 2017 Mar 23 Canada, 10 other countries call out China for torturing human rights lawyers Canada and 10 other countries have asked China to stop torture of human rights lawyers and to end their “residential surveillance at a designated place”, where people can be held for up to 6 months in a secret location without informing their families or lawyers. The joint letter has not been published. It was signed by the ambassadors from Australia, Canada, Japan, Switzerland, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom. It seems like some of the world has noticed and calls on China to repeal their legislation and release their human rights lawyers from detention.

Addendum 2017 May 08 China rights lawyer Xie Yang’s family says US helped them flee: The US helped Xieyang’s family, his wife Chen Guiqiu and two kids, flee China to the US. They were very lucky.

Chen Guiqiu, wife of Chinese lawyer and now prisoner Xie Yang, arrives in Texas after a harrowing escape from China and Thailand. Welcome to North America. Your journey was difficult, but now you are safe.

Chen Guiqiu, wife of Chinese lawyer and now prisoner Xie Yang, arrives in Texas after a harrowing escape from China and Thailand. Welcome to North America. Your journey was difficult, but now you are safe.

China lawyer’s family says US helped them flee

The relatives of Chen who were pressed by the government to travel to Thailand have had their passports confiscated upon their return to China. They have been repeatedly interrogated, and their jobs have been threatened, she said.

The electricity at Chen’s apartment has since been cut, forcing her elderly father to move back to his village. Authorities have emptied her Chinese bank accounts, she said.

“All the things we tried to expose, all the articles we used to write about the truth of 7-09 — the harassment, the torture, the denial of our children’s schooling, the forced evictions — we were always smeared so quickly,” she said.

Heart breaking.

1 thought on “Chinese Lawyer Xie Yang Tortured for Confession

  1. Pingback: Canada vs China: Arrest, Detention and Trial Differences – Don Tai (Canada) Blog

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