My Husband's Release from Prison: He Depu's Beating by Police
January 24, 2011
[Translation by Human Rights in China]
On January 24, 2011, my husband He Depu was released from prison. At 8:30 a.m., I arrived at the prison's gate with my family and friends in a cheerful mood. At the north gate the police requested that we go to the west gate to wait. The police officer who met us took us to a room and said, “You have to wait 30 minutes. We need to inspect the items that He Depu is taking out of prison and listen to all the English tapes.”
After we waited a half hour, a succession of police officers from different levels – the Beijing Public Security Bureau, Xicheng Branch Bureau, and local police substation – as well as personnel from the local office of the Bureau of Justice made these demands: (1) He Depu may not take the car we brought to go home; (2) they would allow only me – He Depu's wife – to cross the first police line [that surrounds the prison compound]; and (3) we must urge He Depu to take [the police] vehicle to go home. We argued strenuously that He Depu should not be sent to the public security bureau for release [and that he should be released directly from the prison]; the police appeared to agree.
I thought that because He Depu's mother was anxiously waiting for her son to return and my husband had already waited inside for several hours, I had no choice but to follow a group of police officers to go back to the north gate.
The police escorted me through two sets of chain-link fences, and we stopped outside the yellow police line. I was surrounded by police officers and armed police; I was the only family member.
Someone who identified himself as a plainclothes officer from the Beijing Public Security Bureau told me that He Depu would be coming out in a little while; the two of us could not ride in the same car; He Depu must go to the local police substation [of his home district] to hear the provisions of his two years of deprivation of political rights; and I must hand over my cell phone to the police, or else He Depu would not be released.
The prison police told me, “Quick, just agree to their demands! We are all waiting for you. Otherwise, your husband can’t be released, and his elderly mother is waiting anxiously at home – just agree to their demands!”
I replied, “What the police say changes all the time. Which version should I comply with?”
We were at a standstill until 11:00 a.m.; they just would not release He Depu; the police pushed, pulled, and made threats. It was not until I agreed to persuade my husband to ride in their police car that they released my husband. My husband and I embraced. Without even giving us the time to speak, the police came and grabbed him. He Depu refused to ride in the police car. Without saying another word, several policemen rushed towards him and started beating him. Other officers grabbed me and I couldn’t move. I watched my husband being beaten but couldn’t help him. I was so distressed that I started wailing, “Why are you beating him? Didn’t I agree to ask him to ride with you? Why are you still beating him!?” No matter how I wailed, the police just ignored me and continued beating my husband until he fell to the ground.
I broke free from the police and ran toward my husband. I held him tightly and said, “They [the police] aren’t being reasonable. Let’s go. Let’s ignore them.” My husband replied, “There is something I haven’t said yet … without freedom, I choose death!” He wasn’t even finished when several police officers rushed to grab him and beat him. At the time, it was only the two of us, surrounded by police. I was worried that my husband would be injured again (his body is already worn down from all the torment). We were certainly not a match for them. With tears streaming down my face, I said, “Let’s get in the car.”
A long line of police cars sped out of the police line, ignoring the cries of He Depu’s younger sister at the gate.
Once we arrived at the local police substation, there was a room full of police officers. Some were holding video cameras, others holding documents. When He Depu refused to let the police officers who beat him videotape him, several officers rushed up to beat him. The sound of my yelling, my cries, and the beating – it was chaos: tables collapsed, chairs overturned, and the documents that were about to be read all over the floor. No dignity, no order, this was the way the government went about its business and enforced the law.
The police hurriedly read through a few pages of documents (we didn’t even hear one sentence clearly), and demanded that my husband sign them. He refused. And strangely, the police demanded that I, too, sign them. I also refused. After we came home, I saw my husband’s hand bleeding and a deep bruise on the back of his neck – all caused by the beating from the Beijing Public Security Bureau police earlier.
When we arrived home, it was already 1:00 p.m. He Depu’s mother was worried sick. According to my husband, there was a man called Fang Jue, a famous dissident, who was not released until after 8:00 p.m. – we counted ourselves lucky.
Just as we got home, we heard yelling downstairs: “The police are beating people!” We immediately ran downstairs and saw our friend, Xu Yonghai, and others being blocked by the police at our front door. There were a lot of police officers surrounding them, stopping them from entering. We were worried that our friends would be beaten by the police on a rampage. I told them to go home to avoid further incidents.
We heard that another friend, Liu Feng, was detained by police, taken to the police station, and released hours later. I don’t know how many more of our friends have been detained today, or how many people have been put under house arrest because of my husband’s release from prison.