The author of the original text is Deng Guilian, wife of the detained investigator, Hua Haifeng. Translated by China Labor Watch
I am Hua Haifeng’s wife. On May 28th, my husband, Hua Haifeng, along with two other investigators, were coerced and controlled by the Jiangxi Ganzhou police while investigating the working conditions in Ivanka Trump’s supplier factory in Jiangxi, China. On May 29th, they were under criminal detention.
Today is the 17th day of Haifeng’s detention. During past 16 days and nights, I have felt panicked, scared, worried, and helpless. The “local police” searched my house without a warrant when there was only an elderly in the house. I also underwent a four-hour interrogation late at night without an official summon.
Simply remembering made me feel fearful, tired and powerless all over again! (I was not aware that they should have shown their badges since I had never experienced anything like this. They said we were just talking.)
That night, the four or five tall and strong men circled me, a helpless woman, for interrogation. In the meantime, they took away my phone, cracked my phone passcode and WeChat password (I don’t know if it was legal) to search for any information they deem “valuable.” They even turned their back to me, copied things down from my phone and took pictures of my phone using their own phones.
While I was being questioned by others, I looked at the person who had my phone. I was afraid, nervous and felt something was off. Are police entitled to do whatever they want and disregard people’s privacy? Aren’t policemen, as law enforcement officers, the most obliged to follow the law? I really wanted my phone back (there were private pictures on it), but I was too afraid. They proclaimed, again and again, that they had a right to do such thing and I had to cooperate.
After I was bombarded with endless questions, they demanded I sign the police report of the case, which I rejected. I said I thought this was just a casual chat, giving me no reason to sign, and signing was only required when a formal summon and trial occur. However, I was told that they were just acting according to procedure, and I could only be released if I signed. Again, I rejected their demand of my signature (I did so because I was not aware what consequences would be if I signed, as I was not informed why I was taken in for a talk).
A policeman forcibly said to me, “it doesn’t matter to us if you sign this; however, if you don’t sign it, don’t even think about going home tonight. So sign it whether you want to or not. When you sign it, you can go home. If you don’t, you will just sit here all night!”
I was scared and felt really tired. I thought I would collapse at any moment, so I compromised and signed.
It was close to midnight. I thought the interrogation had ended and I could go home, but it did not. A policeman who identified himself as Captain Yang lectured me on my thinking, asking me not to get in touch with strangers, not to answer any unfamiliar call, not to accept anyone’s help, and not to receive any packages from strangers. I was to report to them if any stranger got in touch with me.
I was finally allowed going home after forty minutes. During this interrogation, I received no relevant information about my husband.
Close to midnight, I dragged myself home. I was so tired that I did not shower. Just laid in bed and stared at the ceiling all night….
Around 4 p.m. the following day, I got a call from the police asking to talk again. The location was the village council office. Before I left home, a policeman with the last name of Song drove to the front of my house. Remembering what I went through the night before was excruciating. This time, I was being taken away without seeing any badges. It was just one person who told me his last name is Song and that he works at the local police station in the economic development zone. When I got to the office, I saw two familiar faces from the interrogation yesterday, the village secretary and Policeman Song. The interrogation from three people lasted two and a half hours this time. They were not as forceful and intimidating as the first time and did not verbally assault me. The content was largely about “my thought processes” and if I have contacted the media or strangers. They informed me that Hua Haifeng was involved in a serious matter that had to do with classified information. They could not disclose the details, but tried to persuade me to cut ties with Haifeng. They said if I do not keep myself away from him, my kids and I would be implicated and I might even go to prison.
I broke down right then and there. I felt so tired and scared. I could barely maintain everything that was going home at home, and then these men threw another rock at me. I lost control of myself and weeped in front of the three men.
After the questioning, I returned home, exhausted and powerless. I could not eat or sleep. Still, I had to force a smile to comfort the elderly and take care of my kids.
I received the official notice of detention a week later and knew where my husband was. I decided to deliver some clothes and basic supplies to him. I finalized my trip the fastest I could and embarked on the long trip to Jiangxi with my three year-old son. In order to get to Jiangxi as early as possible, I had to buy a standing ticket. On my way to the train station, I got a call from the police and was asked about my whereabouts and what I was doing. They said I could tell them if I wanted to go somewhere since it would be safer if they sent someone to go with me. I kept wondering if I was being watched.
I turned off my phone after the call. Still anxious that they would stop me, I arrived at the station minutes before supposed departure time. I ran to the gate with my son, worried that we might not make it. I momentarily forgot about my other fears.Thankfully, the train was delayed and we weren’t left behind. I was grateful for this little blessing from Heaven.
I returned home after the three-day trip in Jiangxi and experienced a disturbing event that night. Soon after getting off the train at 2 a.m. at Xiangyang Train Station, I noticed that my son and I were being followed by two men. One was older, the other younger. We didn’t know who they were or why they were following us. I was particularly nervous because my son was with me. I was going to stay at a hotel for a few hours and get back home in the morning; however, I was too scared to go to a hotel because we were being followed, so I caught a cab home (which was very expensive). When I was getting in the cab with my child, I turned and saw the two men rushing towards us, making calls while hailing a cab. I could only hear my heart pounding like it would jump out at any minute. On my way home, I kept turning around to keep an eye on the cab that was following us. I was scared and uncertain if we could get to home safely. Disturbed and afraid, we finally arrived home after forty minutes. The cab that was trailing us parked not too far from us and left when our cab left.
The day after we returned from Jiangxi, the house visits continued. This time it was not the police, but the village cadres, secretary and head. They sat at my house for about an hour without asking a single question about Huai Haifeng. They simply repeatedly emphasized I could let them know if I need anything at home, such as if I needed to go somewhere. They also asked me what I planned to do later that day. When they found out I was going to pick up my mother hundreds of kilometers away, the secretary arranged a car service immediately and “accompanied” me to pick her up. I spent the whole four-hour trip with the secretary’s “companionship” to bring my mother home.
The next day, I heard many rumours. I was told that there were security cameras all around my house and guards were downstairs outside my house watching me at night. During the days that I was in Ganzhou, the village cadres went from house to house in my residential community telling my neighbors Hua Haifeng was sentenced to prison because of fraud and leaking information and I might abscond. The cadres told them to visit the elderly in my house to comfort them. Knowing about this, I was beyond furious. What is wrong with all these people? What do they want? Hua Haifeng was still under investigation and there was no evidence to prove he was guilty. How could they prescribe a ruling so easily when the law didn’t even have the evidence to judg? That was such a serious criminal charge. Isn’t it legal and legitimate for me to visit Hua Haifeng, my husband, and deliver clothes over? Why was I being “absconded”?
The elderly at home were suffering as a result of this event. My mother-in-law started using her blood pressure and heart medication again… My daughter found out about the arrest of her father when listening to conversation among adults. My heart ached when she became quiet and stopped talking! I refrained from influencing and hurting my family, but I had been destroyed ruthlessly and inhumanely by the authorities. In the days after, I brought my son to my mother’s apartment to look after her. My mother suffers from late diabetes complications and is not able to care for herself at all. I then found out they moved across from my mother’s apartment for monitoring. Two or three people took shifts. When I left the apartment at 8 or 9 p.m. to get milk for my son, there was a car following me. I became hypersensitive to this type of surveillance. Getting groceries in the supermarket every day, when someone cast a glance on me, I felt that I was being watched . Walking outside on the road, when I saw cars behind me, I thought a car was following me. Sometimes I was so concerned about who was watching me that I lingered in the supermarket for over an hour, wondering what I was going to do. I don’t know how long days like these would last. I don’t know if I would be sent into a psychiatric hospital before Hua Haifeng comes back to me…..
Update 06/15/2017: this article is currently blocked by the Chinese Government