Feng Zhenghu’s Airport Diary: Reverse Countdown
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 21. Read previous installments here.
November 23, 2009
In the morning, after eating five green onion crackers and two cold corn sausages, I began once again setting up my signage. I replaced the two signs, and on the window sill I put up the two dry erase boards that Ms. Atsuko sent me. A fresh look would attract people’s attention.
On one of the boards I wrote in English: “A lawyer who provide legal assistance to poors and exposed corruptions has been denied to return homeland by Chinese authorities for consecutively 8 times.” This English sentence was sent to me via text message by an Internet friend. He suggested I use English to let passers-by know about my situation.
On the other board, I wrote something akin to an official countdown you would see for the Olympics or World Expo in China: “Unable to return to China, camping in Japan (November 4-23, 2009) Day 20.” The board is erasable, so I’m able to update the number each day. Chinese authorities have not yet informed me when I will be able to return to China, so all I can do is show the number of days that I’ve been stuck sleeping outside the entrance to Japan.
I still have a banner in between the windowsill and chairs that reads, in both English and Chinese, “Chinese human rights defender Feng Zhenghu.”
I’ve already been camped here for 20 days. The whole world is spreading the news of my struggle to return home, so there’s no need for me to hide my identity. Let the myriads of travelers passing through here every day from all over the world–but mostly China–know: who is this person camping out here? Why is he here? This Chinese intellectual, enduring humiliation and physical torment everyday, is through his suffering awakening the Chinese government’s respect for human rights. With his actions, he is encouraging his compatriots to love their country, to uphold their rights, and to respect themselves as human beings.
In the afternoon, I replied to a high school student. His message was sent via text message. In accordance with his wishes, I replied to him on Twitter.
Around 2 p.m., a call came in from Chicago, from an employee of the Chinese Artists’ Association of North America, sending greetings from the director. Around 2:30, I was on a call with Zhao Jing in the United States when a handsome American flight attendant walked over and gave me a cup of instant noodles, a pair of chopsticks, and a bag of melon seeds, saying, “Good luck!”
At 3:15, an American traveler brought me a big bottle of purified American water, a bag of American cashews, and a copy of New York Magazine. In English, she said, “I read about you in the Los Angeles Times. Amazing.” My spoken English is poor. I told her, “I can only speak a little English.” She said, “No problem.” She continued to tell me her thoughts, then asked if she could take a picture with me. I said, “Okay, but make it quick,” pointing to a sign on the wall that prohibits photography. She took out her cell phone and quickly snapped a selfie with me.
At 4:17 p.m., I received a call from Jiang Qisheng in Beijing. We had never spoken to each other in China. This was the first time I had received a call from him. I was very thankful for his support. We spoke for a while. He told me, “On the issue of the right to travel abroad, between the Chinese authorities and us, everyone would pick our side without hesitation.”
From November 13 to today, I have received 368 text messages to my Japanese cell phone. Most of these are from people in China. I’m not able to respond to each one individually, so I just expressed my gratitude on Twitter.
Translation by Little Bluegill.