Harrowing tale of a jailed reporter assistant

16 Jan

The new year’s first post on this blog is about the imprisonment of a Chinese assistant to a German reporter in Beijing. The reporter wrote a detailed, disturbing account of the events that led up to her assistant Miao’s detention, which shows how arbitrary and unpredictable the mainland’s legal system are. The reporter held off on writing the story for 12 weeks because she thought this would help Miao’s situation such as get her a release. It didn’t as she continues to be held without being given regular access to visitors or a lawyer.
Miao was imprisoned in October after trying to attend an event in Beijing held in support of the Occupy movement in Hong Kong. The reporter and Miao’s family tried to find her but after finding her prison, were refused access to her from the authorities. The authorities then called the reporter in several times to interrogate her about Miao, using intimidation and deception to get her to confess to being a spy. The authorities keep at it, calling her up frequently to come in to talk, shouting, issuing threats, and attempting to get her to sign “agreements” written only in Chinese. Eventually the reporter leaves China deeply worried, while Miao languishes in jail.
This is a striking reminder that press freedom and true rule of law are both weak in China. Miao was actually one of over 100 Chinese rounded up for expressing support for the Occupy movement.

Some very telling quotes from the article:

“”When lawmakers make laws, they do it for their own interests and not because they are concerned about those of the public.”
“Do the security authorities have to announce that they are invoking an exception or get it authorized?”
“No,” Zhou [Miao’s lawyer] responds. In principle, he continues, the security apparatus can find an exception clause for every law.

“The more I think about it, the clearer it is: No one can tell if reporting on it will do any good. This is a state ruled by arbitrariness. The agonizing uncertainty I’m feeling is intentional.”

Now I’m starting to experience firsthand something that I’ve read a lot about: their skill at twisting the meaning of things. They might have enough material on me. They’ve been eavesdropping on me for four year – on my phone, in my apartment.


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