Dissident Chinese writer Yu Jie held a press conference Wednesday in Washington, D.C., to describe the abuse that drove him to flee to the U.S. with his family last week. Yu, the author of more than a dozen books including the 2010 work China’s Greatest Actor: Wen Jiabao that was sharply critical of the country’s premier, says he came under extreme pressure after his friend and fellow dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. He was put under house arrest, and on the eve of the Dec. 10 Nobel ceremony Yu says he was taken away by state security officers and beaten savagely, an experience he calls “the darkest moment in my life, ” according to a translation of Yu’s statement posted on the website of the activist group Human Rights in China. Excerpts of Yu’s chilling statement continue below:
After more than an hour, we arrived at some secret location. One of the state security officers wedged my head under his armpit and dragged me into a room. They ordered me to sit on a chair and not move—if I did, they’d beat me. I was wearing the black hood the entire time, so breathing was very difficult.
At around 10 p.m., they removed the black hood. Just as I was taking a breath, several of the plainclothes officials came at me again and began beating me in the head and the face without explanation. They stripped off all my clothes and pushed me, naked, to the ground, and kicked me maniacally. They also had a camera and were taking pictures as I was being beaten, saying with glee that they would post the naked photos online.
They forced me to kneel and slapped me over a hundred times in the face. They even forced me to slap myself. They would be satisfied only when they heard the slapping sound, and laughed madly. They also kicked me in the chest and then stood on me after I had fallen to the ground. One of my ribs hurt for a month, as if broken; even bending to get out of bed was very difficult.
They forced me to spread out my hands and bent my fingers backwards one by one. They said, “You’ve written many articles attacking the Communist Party with these hands, so we want to break your fingers one by one.” They also brought lit cigarette butts near my face, causing my skin to burn with pain, and they insultingly blew their cigarette smoke in my face.
Eventually Yu’s injuries grow so severe that he was hospitalized.
I was wrestled from the brink of death after several hours of emergency treatment. Early the next morning, a doctor came to my room on his rounds and asked about my condition. Just as I struggled to say, “They beat me,” a policeman beside me quickly pulled the doctor aside. Another leaned close and hissed into my ear, “If you talk this kind of nonsense again, we’ll pull out all the tubes from your body and let you die.”