22 January 2010

"Looking Back at Those Years" (2): Yang Zili's Memory Tweets

More tweets from Yang Zili, one of the founding members of the New Youth Study Society:

Looking Back at Those Years (5-11)

If you're ever arrested and the police fly into a rage or even torture you, you can be secretly glad: they have no evidence with which to convict you. On the other hand, if they don't seem to care whether you talk or not, that means they've got plenty of evidence to convict you with.

Because I continued to make statements against Communism while in the cell, they didn't turn on the air-conditioning during the heat of summer, saying it was collective punishment. With such methods, if you want to play the maverick, the other inmates won't allow it. You really have to admire such excellent techniques of rule.

A cellmate named Old Huo was extremely harsh towards others, and after sharing a cell with him for 2-1/2 years, we had countless arguments. I tried my best to tolerate it, since he'd been sentenced to death, but he consistently picked fights. When we were finally separated, Old Huo said lots of nice things about me in his new cell. All along he was picking fights just so that we would be separated! I guess even bad people aren't all bad at heart.

The Beijing State Security Bureau Detention Center is known as "the only unspoiled place in Beijing," because it's managed so strictly and there's absolutely no perversions of justice. It's so much so that some people with good connections are held there. But there was a correctional officer there surnamed Lü who was in charge of [the inmates'] money who took advantage of the fact that family members were not allowed to send books and sold only coffee-table books that he bought at a discount and resold at list price. Inmates with money could buy books other than these coffee-table books, but if you had little money you got no such treatment. Before I left, Lü even tried to take a cut [of my funds]. It seems even this "unspoiled place" isn't so unspoiled.

In the courtroom, the judge picked up a piece of evidence, my address book, and asked, "Any objections?" "No," I said. Then he grabbed one of Xu Wei's letters. "Any objections?" "No." All of this turned out to be evidence of our crimes. If we had any experience, of course we'd have raised objections. What does this evidence prove? If it doesn't prove anything, of course it should be thrown out.

Many people don't understand why Xu Wei was sentenced to 10 years despite having broken no taboos. Actually, it's simple: he was the nominal director of the study society. For this, he was a "chief culprit" subject to 10 years or more according to the law. This is rule of law in a dictatorship, where all it takes is will to turn innocence into guilt and where a lighter punishment is impossible because things must be "handled in accordance with the law." It's this kind of thinking that sends someone to prison for life for withdrawing cash from a broken cash machine.

Jin Xing, the judge in the appeals trial, asked if we wanted to request he recuse himself. Haike said that if he couldn't guarantee to be fair, he should voluntarily recuse himself. At first I thought we should request that he recuse himself, given that he was a Party member and we were charged with opposing the Party. But then I considered that we needed him to allow the witnesses to appear in court, so I didn't raise it. It turned out that he didn't allow the witnesses to appear in court after all, meaning we simply wasted an opportunity. It seems that in a political case whose fate has already been sealed, you can only resist, not fantasize.

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