The five feminist activists who spent five weeks in detention on suspicion of “gathering crowds to disrupt order in public places” have shared details of their experiences, despite an order from authorities not to talk to journalists. Li Tingting previously headed the L.G.B.T. program at Beijing Yirenping Center, an NGO that has also been targeted in the recent crackdown on civil society. Li issued a statement to Simon Denyer of the Washington Post, after her girlfriend earlier spoke with an Associated Press reporter:
“The reason why I became a feminist is simple: I’m a woman and I found the world is unequal,” Li wrote. “It’s important for women to stand up for themselves because only they know their needs.”
[…] Before her release, police forced Li to sign a pledge not to talk to the media, something her lawyer, Wang Yu, said has no basis in Chinese law. Nevertheless, Li appears determined not to be silenced entirely.
Interrogated 49 times during her detention, under strong lights and for up to eight hours at a time, Li said one police officer “spat” smoke into her face many times during the questioning, while several insulted her for being a lesbian and called her shameless. On one night, she was only allowed two hours sleep.
“They kept telling me I was being taken advantage of, that I was being used,” she wrote. “After 10 days, even I doubted if I had been wrong. I asked myself over and over again, ‘Am I being used? Has anyone ever forced me?’ ” [Source]
Fellow activist Wei Tingting—director of Ji’ande (际安德), a Beijing-based L.G.B.T. rights organization—also discussed the tactics used by her interrogators to get her to confess during her detention. From Mark Stone of Sky News:
However, she did describe some of her experiences.
“I can say it objectively: the officers used some tactics during interrogations in the hope that you will confess or admit to the crimes,” she said.
“They use some methods to trick you; to make you speak more. I don’t want to talk more details about it. They do have their ways to obtain information they want to get.” [Source]
Because of the conditions of their bail, all five women are still officially under investigation. Li Tingting and Wu Rongrong, who was also detained at the same time, plan to sue authorities over their detention, according to Radio Free Asia reporting on a public statement issued by Li:
“Because of this, I am planning to sue the Haidian district police over their illegal acts while I was in custody,” it said.
Li said she had been acting with the aim of advancing gender equality in China, and had committed no acts that amounted to “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble.”
“All I did was mild advocacy, and no criminal acts were involved,” she wrote. “Their arbitrary behavior has created a miscarriage of justice.”
“The Haidian police should withdraw all charges as soon as possible, lift all coercive measures against me, and restore my good name,” Li said. [Source]
Read more about the detention of the five activists, via CDT.