Sun, Aug 26, 2012 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Bruce Chung tells of detention hell

Taiwanese Falun Gong practitioner Bruce Chung returned to Taiwan on Aug. 11 after being detained for 54 days by Chinese authorities. He said in a recent interview with Tzou Jiing-wen, a staff reporter with the ‘Liberty Times’ (sister paper of the ‘Taipei Times’) that the most basic duty of any government should be to protect its people’s personal safety, adding that personal safety of Taiwanese should be the government’s guiding principle and that China must be informed of the Taiwanese government’s resolve on the issue

Bruce Chung gestures during an interview with the Liberty Times on Aug. 16.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

Liberty Times: Could you explain in detail how you were detained in China?

Bruce Chung (鍾鼎邦): I have relatives in China and I had made multiple visits to see them prior to 2003. After I joined the Falun Gong in 2003 I helped to ship equipment capable of hijacking Chinese TV signals, I felt that it was no longer safe for me to visit China.

Just this year, my late father’s former wife said she missed me very much and asked me to visit. I thought that given the fact that it had been many years since I had shipped the equipment things should have died down a bit, so I agreed to go. I did not expect such an event to occur.

I arrived in Jiangxi Province’s Ganzhou in mid-June and after my trip was over, I was ready to board a plane to Shenzhen in order to catch a flight to Hong Kong and from there to travel back to Taiwan when I was stopped by airport personnel who said there were issues with my luggage.

They took me into a room occupied by seven or eight personnel from the Ganzhou branch of the Ministry of State Security. They simply told me that I had done things to endanger national security and were taking me away.

Despite telling them such an action was akin to kidnapping and is forbidden, they still took me to the ministry’s Ganzhou reception center where I was kept under surveillance for 53 days until I was allowed to return to Taiwan.

On the first day, I demanded to see my lawyer and told the ministry personnel to contact my family and tell them where I was being held, but when they refused to heed my demands and did not offer any legal assistance, I sought to express my protest through a hunger strike.

I was finally able to meet with my niece from Ganzhou on the second day. However, they also agreed that night to let me call Taiwan and inform my family where I had been taken.

Despite this concession, for the duration of the period afterward and even during long hours of questioning, there were no lawyers present.

At the reception center, ministry personnel divided themselves into five shifts per day, with two people on each shift monitoring me. This surveillance continued into the night and I was told I was not to lock the door when I was bathing or using the toilet.

Though they did not physically hurt me during their questioning, there were other measures. For instance, they originally gave me a chair with a seated back, but after I refused to answer their questions, they brought in a stool. After they changed the chair, a large man — who exuded aggression — rushed in and threatened that if I continued to act like this, they could worsen my accommodation and treatment.

They hauled me off for questioning a lot and sometimes I would be in a room for seven to eight hours. I did not cooperate at first, but an interrogator once said that another team was waiting outside and was poised to enter the cell.

One of them said: ‘If there are no results from our more humane methods of questioning, I think you can imagine what would ensue, Mr Chung.’

LT: China has accused you through Xinhua news agency of gathering classified documents and inciting Chinese civilians to destroy broadcasting equipment over the past 9 years. Is there any truth in these claims?

Chung: Taiwanese Falun Gong members use the Internet, telephone, fax and texts to tell people on the Mainland about our practices and beliefs. Falun Gong is widespread globally because it is a real belief. We also tell them that the self-immolations by Falun Gong practitioners at Tiananmen Square are Chinese Communist Party (CCP) fabrications designed to whip up popular hatred for the religious group.

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