In 2016, citizen journalist Lu Yuyu and his girlfriend at the time Li Tingyu were formally arrested after having been detained for over a month. The two had been chronicling “mass incidents” across China on the “Not News” (非新聞) blog and @wickedonnaa Twitter account since 2013. Reporters Without Borders awarded the detained Lu and Li a Press Freedom Prize in 2016. While Li was reportedly tried in secret and released in April 2017, Lu was sentenced to four years in prison that August for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” a catch-all charge frequently used to prosecute activists. Last week, the Committee to Protect Journalists interviewed Lu about his detention.
Lu was released from prison last month, and on July 17 began sharing his account of his detention and treatment on Twitter. CDT has translated the sixth part below. See also CDT’s translation of Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5. At the end of the last entry, police had brought into an interrogation room:
— darkmamu (@darkmamu6) August 1, 2020
Sure, I thought, we can talk, as long as I get some meat to eat. I hadn’t had a good meal in six months. We had bento boxes for lunch, and they did most of the talking. I sat on the tiger chair, listening. I didn’t smoke, but snuck two packs out in my jacket for my cellmates.
The following month, they came almost every day. They covered everything: a murder case from decades ago was resolved, a wrongful conviction was overturned, a highway was put in place, the Eyes in the Sky “concentrate resources to accomplish large undertakings”…… Once in a while, they’d play a video of someone else confessing. They suggested that I should confess and change my lawyers.
At first I felt pretty good, eating meat everyday. Gradually though, I started losing sleep and became absent-minded.
Everyone around me seemed to be up to no good. Why did that deputy cop stare at me? That cop looked like a friend of mine. What are they trying to suggest?…
I was depressed and had no way to vent, so I smashed against the door and hit the alarm button with my shoes. The cops ignored me. Sometimes when I really didn’t feel like going to the interrogation room, I’d strike for a meal and then wouldn’t have to go the next day. They didn’t care. They had all the time they needed, and they’d just come again the next day. Four of them, sometimes five. Sometimes there were female cops. Sometimes they’d be someone that others called “big boss.” One time, they asked me why I took a picture with Yang Jia’s mother.
I told them it was because she’s the mother of a hero. An argument followed, and I got so upset I banged my head on the iron of the interrogation chair. My head started bleeding and a cop came to rein me in.
Do you dare to kill me!?
Give me a knife!
At that moment, I could have killed anyone, including myself.
One time they said Xiao Lu, in case you think we aren’t highly ranked enough, we can call for higher officials. If you want to talk to your family, your friends, your online pals, or if you want to meet Li Tingyu, we can arrange all of that.
I didn’t want to see anybody.
I’d crumble if I saw them like this.
Again they asked me what it was I want, assured me that we could talk about everything.
I told them to release Li Tingyu. She didn’t have much to do with this, and they’d already locked her up for six months. That should be enough.
They said she could take care of herself, that they were talking to her as well, and had bought KFC for her, and English novels too. They said that I should just focus on myself.
I said I had nothing to say. I did send those posts, as they verified. There wasn’t any more to talk about.
Jane [Li Tingyu’s English name] gave up her studies because of [my website] Not News. I felt guilty. Once a female cop said, “Lu Yuyu, you’ve ruined Li Tingyu.”
But you are the ones who locked her up, I thought. How am I the one who ruined her? I wanted to say this but I didn’t.
Things dragged on like this. I became increasingly paranoid.
They must be playing this TV series for me on purpose. My cellmates are speaking loudly on purpose…
It was a tradition for the guards to take count before a major holiday. It was almost the Lunar New Year when two armed police officers and some cops came around. Everyone quickly lined up, their eyes fixated on their feet. Everyone except me. A teenage armed police officer came to me and said condescendingly, “Lower your head!”
So he kicked me. They were used to beating people for no reason and with no resistance. There was a plastic jar of fermented tofu on the cement stand next to the toilet. I grabbed it and threw it at him. It hit his mouth. Blood came out. I grabbed another one before the cops grabbed my arm.
Down with XXX [redaction in original].
I yelled. I was quickly thrown to the ground by many pairs of hands, my face pressed against the cement floor. They pinned my arms, twisting them back to their extreme physical limits—I almost felt my arms being ripped from my body. Then, I was dragged out to the monitoring room. They locked me to an interrogation chair. About three hours later, they came and put hand- and ankle-cuffs on me before asking me to walk back to the cell. I refused. It hurt.
Four of them—two deputy police officers, a supervisor, and a cop—lifted me back to the cell, threw me on the bed, and started beating me. I couldn’t move so I cursed at them. I was still in the ankle restraints, and the strongest cop stood on my leg and pressed down with his full body weight. I’d never experienced so much pain. I could still move my head, so I spit on him.
Fuck you, why don’t you just break my leg.
He was apparently infuriated. He jumped off of me, took off his police jacket and yelled, “Today I’ll quit being a cop, and I’ll kill you.” He rushed toward me. I wouldn’t give in: “If you don’t kill me, then you’re worthless.” Perhaps afraid that he really was going to kill me, the other three dragged him out of the cell. A while later, they returned and put a motorcycle helmet on my head. I couldn’t move my head anymore.
I started another hunger strike. I wouldn’t even drink water. I didn’t speak, I didn’t make any requests. They all took turns seeing me: all sorts of cops, the warden, supervisors, prosecutors, medical examiners.
The warden said: “We made you a copy of the surveillance footage. You can sue him, but you have to eat first.” [Chinese]
Translation by Yakexi. CDT will continue to translate selected excerpts from Lu’s Twitter diary account of his detention as they are published. See also CDT’s translation of Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.