What Happens During “Residential Surveillance”?
Siweiluozi translates from He Depu’s account of his time under “residential surveillance” in 2002, during which he was made to lie on a hard wooden bed for extended periods with teams of guards standing over him. The case has resurfaced recently in connection with proposed changes to the Criminal Procedure Law which, according to Human Rights Watch, would provide such detentions with “a thicker veneer of legality”.
It was winter then, and the guards gave me only a thin, quilt made of rayon for the bed. There was no heat in the room and no windows. Each day I was given only three slices of onion or five slices of radish and two small steamed buns. Each morning and afternoon I was given a small paper cup of water. While I was under “residential surveillance in a designated abode,” I was not permitted to shave, cut my hair, clip my nails, or shower ….
Having spent a long time in a fixed position on the wooden-plank bed without being allowed to move, my shoulders, back, and hips were in contact with the plank for too long and the skin was all rubbed raw and the white sheet beneath me was covered in bloodstains. I requested to see a doctor and a change of sheets but was told to “shut up ….”
Because being on the bed was living hell, it was naturally a “fortunate enjoyment” to be taken from bed to be taken for questioning by the guobao. Sitting in a stool in the interrogation room, I understood the meaning of the word “fortunate.”