After he was denied re-entry to China eight times, Feng Zhenghu lived in Tokyo’s Narita Airport for 92 days in 2009-2010. Now Feng is telling the story of his airport odyssey on his blog, and CDT is translating his account.
This is part 12. Read previous installments here.
November 14, 2009
Travellers began passing through immigration after 6 a.m. Immigration officers then became busy as the hall bustled with activity. This marks the time that I should get out of “bed.” I don’t want to be laying down in front of the crowds in the hall. I sat sat there for a while in a daze.
My “bed” is a bench with a backrest, with a seat about 45 cm (18 inches) wide. Turn over in your sleep, and you fall right off. When I sleep, I have to wake up a few times to move around a bit because I’ve been having a little pain in my low back on the right, so I can’t just lay in one position anymore. I don’t take my clothes off when I sleep because they help keep me warm. At night, my briefcase becomes my pillow. It is impossible to get a good night’s rest.
In the morning, I wrote an essay titled “Welcoming President Obama to China and Japan” on my laptop. Its concluding remarks read as follows: “Not only is Mr. Obama the president of the United States, he’s also this year’s winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. During his visit to China, he will focus on the economic interests of the United States. But he will also focus on China’s human rights issues. The foundation of world peace is regional peace. Countries or regions that do not respect human rights will sooner or later face conflict. This internal conflict may even spill over, destroying world peace. Without human rights, there will be no peace.”
At around 3 p.m., I was interviewed by a Beijing-based reporter for the UK’s Financial Times. I’ve been relatively busy the last few days. Two days ago in the afternoon, the big Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun (evening edition) reported on my tribulations with a quarter-page article that included a picture of me wearing my “injustice” shirt. With that, news of my situation spread throughout Japan. Yesterday afternoon, Ms. Chen Liqiao of Hong Kong airmailed me some food. Officials from the Japanese Immigration Bureau and customs came to speak with me. They said they were considering helping me return to China. A head of the Narita Airport Management Company also came to express sympathy, and brought me some nutritional drinks.
Tonight I ate a packet of semi-liquid vitamin fruit jelly and a few cookies. A reporter from Voice of America called for an interview. Then I got a call from Xiao Qiao, a Shanghai author currently in Sweden. She told me that her essay “Put Life on Hold–In Solidarity with Mr. Zhenghu” was to be published in the journal “Humanity and Human Rights.” When she tried to enter mainland China from Hong Kong last month, she was refused entry by Shenzhen border police—illegally, and without reason. After she returned to Sweden, her passport and visa expired, forcing her to apply for political asylum. For the moment, she remains in exile.
Every day, I receive many, many text messages from people all over the world. The majority are from inside China. They are written in English, Chinese, Japanese, even pinyin. They express support and encouragement and ask how they can help. I’m very moved. Although I am but a single person adrift in “international waters,” fighting bitterly for the fundamental human rights of the Chinese people, I am not alone. I have the support and concern of the masses in China. My cell phone has a Japanese language operating system, and I don’t have much money left on my account, so I am unable to reply to each message. Here, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks.
I also received a text message from Mr. Debang of Beijing. Though some of the Chinese characters in his message won’t display on my phone, I can still see those characters that are used in both Chinese and Japanese, and I can guess my way through the message. Thank you for the words of encouragement. Today being Saturday, there are no more flights after 10 p.m. The immigration hall is very quiet now. Not a single person is here. Yet the lights are still very bright. I was busy throughout the whole day today. I’m going to wash up and sleep.
Translation by Little Bluegill.