Journalist Tells of Police Detention, Beating after Reporting Riots

The following translation was sent to us by a CDT reader, who tells us he took a screenshot of posts from the Tencent weibo (microblog) account of journalist Lu Chaoguo. The posts, which have since been deleted (but reposted by others), give a personal account of Lu’s detention and mistreatment by police when he reported on the recent riots in Anshun, Guizhou, after an “urban management” official beat to death a handicapped street vendor (read more about the incident). Lu is a reporter for the Jinan-based Qilu Evening News. Screenshots of the posts are attached. Thanks to our reader for providing the translation:

I arrived in Anshun today [July 28th, 2011] at 10am, investigating the widely circulated [story] on the Internet [of] “chengguan officials strangle handicapped vendor to death, drawing thousands of onlookers.” While I was doing an interview at the scene in the company of the family members of Deng Qiguo, the deceased [vendor], several unknown men approached, seemingly hostile. I was very vigilant, immediately put away my recorder, stopped the interview and got up to leave. A man asked me: “Which media are you from?” I wasn’t sure about their identity and claimed that I wasn’t from the media.

Then I asked them, “Who are you? The public security?” They didn’t answer. As I got up to leave, four or five men closed in, and one of them rushed over to grab my cell phone. I ran, holding the phone to my breast and was grabbed around the neck. They closed in to grab my phone. The three family members of the deceased came to protect me. I was nailed to the ground, one man pushed down my head on the ground with his leg, making me unable to move. I yelled “Help!” There were many onlookers. I called out, asking them to call the police. A family member of the deceased kneeled down on the ground, also asking them to help save me, but maybe the onlookers didn’t know the truth, nobody helped out.

Soon, the men pulled my arms and carried me to an old mini van and grabbed my phone. Then some pushed me into the van. I struggled
desperately. I had no idea who they were. They beat and pinched me while carrying me into the van, ignoring the onlookers. I continued to struggle. At this point, I suddenly felt my temple being punched violently three times. I almost lost consciousness. Unable to keep struggling, I was easily stuffed into the van.

After I barely regained my consciousness, I saw there was a police officer in uniform next to me. When I saw the officer, frankly, I laughed. I don’t even know why I laughed. It’s a complicated feeling. If they had said they were the police and showed me their card, I would cooperate. But I never thought I would be put in the van like this.

I wanted to look at the young officer’s number. He noticed and peeled it off immediately. I laughed again, “Why be afraid of people taking down your number while [you] police are working?” When we arrived at the Xixiu district PSB bureau, my bag, recorder and cell phone were nowhere to be found, and I lost my shoes.

While getting out of the van, I said to the two officers who “detained” me, “Could you give me some dignity, and let me put on my shoes?” Instead, I was carried barefoot to the fifth floor by them. The door was closed. I was controlled by three men in the hallway. Their skill at “detaining” people was very professional, making it impossible to struggle.

After a while, maybe because I had struggled too hard, or maybe it was too hot, and my heart has always been weak, I felt gradually that my body was getting tense, my consciousness frail, and I was short of breath. I begged the two officers to take me to a hospital, but they said: “Stop pretending. We have seen too many people like you. You’re young, how could you possibly have heart disease?” Then I lay on the ground, hands still held by the officers. I asked them to set free one of my hands to [let me] pound my heart — rejected. I asked for water — rejected. At that time I understood why some people “suddenly died” in police hands.

I can’t remember how long I had been lying there. Every minute, every second, seemed so long for me. Later, another police officer came. I cooperated on everything. I told them where I’m from, gave them my press card, ID card and even passport. They took me to a room on the third floor and then started to verify my identity. I asked to make a call to the head of my newspaper, but they didn’t allow it. I went to the bathroom, also followed by someone.

It was about 3 when I arrived at the public security bureau, and there was still no response at 5. I said, “You have been verifying for two hours, yet still no result. Isn’t it too inefficient?” They replied, “We are indeed inefficient. It’s legal to keep you for 24 hours.” I asked the officer, “Since you said it, tell me what my status is? A criminal suspect?” He did not answer.

It was not until about 6 that an official of Xixiu district’s propaganda department came. I was “released” and allowed to make phone calls. Then they were going to take me to a hospital to check for injuries. I said, “The public security officers took me here like this. I won’t leave until you give me an explanation.” Afterwards, an official of Anshun city’s propaganda department also came to persuade me. I raised three demands: “First, the Xixiu district public security bureau issues a written apology for me; second, my two bags were broken, pay for my bags; and, police inform me on the Deng Qiguo investigation.” The propaganda official promised.

But at 8, a head of the city’s public security bureau came and claimed that he hurried over within five minutes after he received the phone call. At first he explained to me that, when the police enforce the law normally, if anything like this happens, they should be locked up first, not me. But because of the mass incident, they were taking “abnormal law enforcement measures,” which are allowed by the public security’s regulation. I asked for the detailed articles.

Then the head said the men who took me are from “internal security” and can’t reveal their identity to the public, therefore can’t come to apologize to me in person. On behalf of them, the head would apologize for their “rude behavior” when they were enforcing the law.

The matter ended like this. I didn’t raise any excessive demands. Now I still have bruises all over my arms and neck.