The fiance of Wu Yidian Eden, the Singaporean associate director at Standard Chartered’s private banking business who was recently detained, has written an account of his time in Wuxi yesterday, where he tried to see his wife-to-be. Wu’s parents were allowed to meet with her, but he was not. Local police, as it turns out, are unhappy that he has been talking to the press and writing about the case on his blog, and they want to shut him up. Tan walked away from a potential meeting with his wife after local police said they would allow him to see her only if he agreed to stop talking to the media. We’re reposting his account here with his permission:
Wow. This was another crazy day. This morning I slept in a bit after a really stressful day yesterday. As I Was attempting to make my first video post I heard Eden’s mom talking to Mr yang of the Chinese police. It was great news! We were going to be allowed to visit Eden! There was a mad flurry of phone calls trying to arrange transportation, coordinating arrival times for Eden’s cousin coming from Wuxi, telling relatives the good news. Then a mad rush to get dressed to hurry out the door. It took us about 2 hours to drive to Jiangyin International Hotel, slowed a bit by a GPS that was probably blocked up by the suffocating smog that blankets the area. The Jiangyin International is a government owned hotel that is actually pretty good.
We arrived and the police were waiting for us on the 3rd floor. I recognized Mr Yang, the officer in charge of the investigation as well as one other younger guy from the 13 hour interrogation that I accompanied Eden to on Monday, Feb 27. They immediately ushered Eden’s parents in where some police officers and 2 representatives of the Singapore Consulate met with Eden. Eden’s mom described her as having lost a lot of weight and looking worn with dark spots under her eyes. The consulate was allowed to give Eden a bag with some of her own clothes, a few books and sundries. The consulate was pretty tough on the police, demanding to know why Eden had not been allowed to have access to a lawyer. The police made the excuse that they did not know who her lawyer really was. A really sad excuse. Eden was able to describe her current living conditions. They were indeed much better than what they had been. She is in a low end motel, in a room with it’s own bathroom and 2 beds, one of which is hers. The other is shared by 2 of the 4 police officers that live with her 24 hours a day. She is questioned nearly everyday. Today was the first contact with anyone outside the police that she has had since she was detained 10 days ago. She is accompanied to the bathroom and when she takes a shower, supposedly for her safety. This violation of human rights is a major concern of the Singapore Consulate. She was calm and her dad said that her head was clear. At one point the consulate was prevented from letting her know that Standard Chartered had assured the family that her job was safe and they were providing legal counsel for her by the police. I don’t know why they would want to prevent Eden from knowing about the bank’s support. The police promised 30 minutes to meet and with 20 minutes to go they tried to end the meeting. The Singapore Consulate stepped in and made sure that the full 30 minutes were given.
Eden’s parents came out of the room and they seemed pretty satisfied with the meeting. As I approached, Mr Yang held out a phone to me and tried to tell me that I could only talk to her on the phone. They tried to say that they were not required to allow me to see her since we were not yet married (I was later told that this is bullshit). They basically made me beg to see her. After that Mr Yang made a phone call under the pretense of calling his supervisor. He made a big show of saying that I really wanted to see her and when he came back I was made understand that he was really bending over backwards and taking a lot of risk in letting me see her. How could this get someone in trouble? Anyway, I didn’t care what kind of risks he took. They told me several times that I could not shout when I saw Eden and that I had to remain very calm. This did not make sense either, but I assured them that I would be calm. We went into an enormous conference room with ashtrays freshly filled to the brim and smoke hanging in the air. Eden was not there. We waited for a bit and then they said that we would not be allowed to speak and that I would have to write what I wanted to say on a piece of paper. This was getting more and more ridiculous. Finally, it came out. The only way they were going to let me see Eden was if I promised not to talk to the media and post on the internet. They had to say it 3 times for me to understand. I was furious. This is what kidnappers do. They were trying to shut me up by letting me see her. I stood up and walked out. It seems like everything here is a bit of a soap opera. They were clearly irritated by what I was doing and I was definitely not going to give it up for anything less than Eden’s release. I also knew that at least Eden’s parents had gotten to spend time with her and I knew we had the same concerns.
The family stayed at the hotel for some time after to talk about what had happened and grab something to eat and the police called again. The phone was given to me and Eden was on the other end. She said that they were not going to allow us to see each other unless I stopped talking to the media. I told her I couldn’t do that. That was really tough to do. She told me that she really wanted to see me and I told her the same. She asked me why I was talking to the media and I told her that I was afraid that this whole thing would be dragged out if I did not. It was clear that she was being coerced and told what to say. I am sure she understood. We talked about some other things and said goodbye. It was great to hear her voice, it sounded a bit shaken but she sounded ok. I am just now realizing that they were trying to use her to get me to shutup.
We stayed a while longer at the hotel and then we got another call from the police that they wanted to meet with me. Really? What could they want to talk about? They said that they were going to bring a translater and that way they could answer my questions and communicate with them more easily. Great! The next meeting was in another government hotel this time in Wuxi. The Wuxi International Hotel about 30 minutes away. We piled into the cars and this time when we arrived we met the police on the 25th floor in a nice lounge area. They were super nice, smiling and inviting everyone to sit down around a rectangular table with me at the center. Mr Yang sat at the head and Eden’s parents sat opposite me, her cousins sat on either side. A translater came in who spoke very good english. Tea and hot water was brought in and then they started dumping treats on the table. Lots of different kinds, especially nuts. They had noticed that I had brought a bag of nuts to the 13 hour interrogation (very sweet of them). They were clearly trying to make me feel comfortable. They also brought in 10 different drinks from 86C as well as some other pastries. Really went all out. Mr Yang left to take a call and we were left with the translater. I took this time to tell her what was going on. She had no idea.
When Mr Yang came back the translater asked if I had any questions. I had 3. When is Eden going to get to see a lawyer? When are we going to be able to schedule our wedding, and when is Eden going to be released. At first they talked a bunch in Chinese shrugged and basically gave no answer. Finally they said that to see a lawyer requires at least a day or 2 of paper work but it could be much longer. I believe this is actually not true. I never got any answers to the rest. Then the translater went around the table, not to the police but to the family members and asked them to explain why it was not possible to tell when Eden would be released. After this, the translater asked me if I had any more questions. I told her that my original questions had not been answered and those were the only ones I cared about. Again she went around the table to the family members, often with the police leaving the table completely. I asked her why the police were not answering these questions, and basically the police were trying to get the family members to get me to understand that they were not going to give any firm answer. She asked me again if I had anymore questions and i said no. Ok, then I got up to leave because it seemed there was no more to say. I was frustrated and this was basically a big waste of time. I was halfway to the elevator when everyone in the family convinced me to come back to the table. Physically pulling me back. I sat down and a new line of questions was inserted. The translater asked me about what I had been posting on the internet and speaking to the media. She asked me if I thought this was the best thing to do and i told her the same thing that I told Eden. That if this is swept under the rug and no one knew about it that the police were free to keep her forever. She said that of course everyone including her family and friends were concerned and wanted her release and wasn’t that enough. I told her that now the entire world cares about what happens and isn’t that even better? Then she went around the table asking each family member how they felt about what I was doing. They all seemed to think that the way I was going about it was not the Chinese way and certainly not the way they thought was best. We went around the table twice again like this, me telling why I was speaking out and each person talking about what they would do. I believe that I have the luxury of being able to speak out because I am a US citizen. If I were a Chinese citizen doing something similar I am positive I would be detained immediately and thrown in some corner somewhere I couldn’t cause any trouble for these police who have nothing better to do than to hold an innocent person hostage from the people that care about her. Finally, it came back around to me again and I said I had nothing left to discuss and finally left. Basically a huge waste of time.
I’m realizing afterward that they had tried 3 ways to get me to stop talking to the media and posting on the internet. 1. Allowing me to see Eden in exchange for shutting up. 2. Trying to get Eden to convince me to stop. 3. Trying to get the family to convince me to stop.
I’ll stop when they release Eden.