First hand account of two Chinese artists arrested and beaten, their studios homes and dignity all taken from them

Written by Diane Gatterdam

Yang Licai’s statement to the Jiuxianqiao police station

The letter below is a first hand account written by Artist Yang Licai’s of the shocking and deplorable treatment by Beijing Police of both himself and Artist Wu Yuren.
This is a continuation of the Chinese Governments appalling treatment of Chinese Artists who bravely stand up for human rights on a daily basis.

Yang Licai in front of his old studio in the 798

Yang Licai (Also known as “Sugar Jar”) and Artist Wu Yuren both had studio’s in the famous 798 Art District, which was one of the first art districts settled by Chinese Artists in an old factory, the only Bauhaus building in China.

Artist Wu Yuren is still in prison with no rights, his wife Karen Patterson, other Artists including Ai Wei Wei and human rights lawyers have been working in his behalf.


公民杨立才关于吴玉仁在酒仙桥派 出所遭遇的情况说明
Citizen Yang Licai’s statement about what happened to Wu Yuren at the police station

What Wu Yuren and I went through at Jiuxianqiao police station: In the afternoon of May 30, 2010, the property management of 798 art district again cut the power to my studio. I called the property management maintenance department but they wouldn’t provide the electricity. In order for work and life to resume, I borrowed a gasoline generator from a friend Wu Yuren.

At around 3 pm on May 31, 2010, about 20 men came to my studio and took the generator by force. I recognized some security guards from 798 property management among them. I went to the police patrol station (警务工作站) at 798 to report the case and identified the man who took the generator to a policeman named Hou Kun. Hou Kun told me that they are all from 798 property management and my generator was there too. He said I can only file a police report at the police station. I called 110 as he suggested.

I also called Wu Yuren and my younger brother to tell them about the generator. Soon Wu Yuren came to the 798 police workstation in a scooter and we sprayed a few graffiti at the walls in 798 in protest.  It was something like: “798 property management robs, shameless.” Then Luan Xiaoyong, a policeman from Jiuxianqiao police station arrived in a police car. I decided to go to the police station to file a report and Wu said he would go with me. So he put his scooter away and went to the police station with me in the police car.

At around 4 pm, police told us to wait in the waiting room. About 20 minutes later they took us to an interrogation room. The police officers who handled the case didn’t ask us anything about the crime we were there to report, instead they held me and Wu Yuren (without any oral or written subpoena). We were not allowed to leave the room or make phone calls or go buy drinking water. I questioned the police: I said, “I am the victim and have come to report a case. So why don’t you record my report but hold me in custody? Wu Yuren is only accompanying me, why do you hold him in custody? On what legal grounds do you do this?”

The police didn’t reply, but instead, said that I was not cooperating. Their attitude was bad, so Wu argued in my defence. Several policemen pushed and shoved Wu into a small room separated by iron bars with “women’s” written on the door.

Policeman on duty

Liu Dawei (badge number 033647), deputy chief of the police station who was on duty that day, also grabbed Wu’s cell phone (without showing us any search warrant).

Police asked me to hand over my cell phone too and I refused and put it in my pocket. Police approached me, trying to take the phone by force, and I warned them that forcible physical search was against the law, so they backed down.

Wu and I protested the policemen’s misconduct many times, and asked Liu Dawei to give Wu’s cell phone back, but the policemen all turned a deaf ear. Some policeman was shooting us with a digital video camera.

Wu and I requested to call our families and call the police inspectors to complain. Police said their supervisors had denied our requests.

At around 7 pm, my brother came looking for me at the police station. But the police wouldn’t let me see him. Wu and I asked to see our families so that they could send us food. Police agreed. Wu and I met my brother. I gave him my cell phone and told him that the police didn’t accept my report according to legal procedures but held Wu and I in custody and grabbed Wu’s cell phone. My brother and his friend bought dinner and sent to the police station. Wu and I had dinner in the interrogation room.

On the night of May 31, I don’t know when exactly, Wu and I were led out of the small room and put into the same interrogation room. Wu said to the policemen guarding us that he wanted Liu Dawei to return the cell phone. Several policemen at the scene started scorning him in contempt tone and abusive language, such as, “fuck…” (你丫……), “Behave yourself!” ( 给我老实点!), “You think you are tough?” (你丫较劲是不是?), to provoke and taunt Wu. Some pointed fingers, some cursed, and some pushed and shoved. Wu protested aloud, saying, “Please clean up your language and don’t touch me!”

Liu Dawei came to the interrogation room and told Wu “你给我老实点!” and said scornful things to him. Wu asked him, “Give me my cell phone back. On what grounds did you take my cell phone?” Liu Dawei told the policemen nearby, “get him out of here.”

Then Liu Dawei and several policemen grabbed Wu by force, dragged him out of the room. Soon I heard Wu screaming loudly. It lasted about 30 seconds and then the voice weakened.

About 3 to 4 minutes later, I heard him screaming again. It sounded like he was going through tremendous pain. I suspected that he was being beaten by the police so I protested loudly, asking them to stop violating Wu. Police didn’t answer me.

So I went to the window, opened the screen window and cried for help towards the street outside, saying on top of my voice “police are beating people!” but no one answered me. The street light was on outside, and there were not many passers-by or cars. Several policemen dragged me away from the window and put me in the separate room again. I started a hunger strike in protest of what the police did to Wu.

Police station where Wu was beaten

In the early morning of June 1, I saw Wu in the hallway at the police station. He looked tired and in pain, with one arm hanging down stiffly. I asked him what had happened. He said, “I can’t move this whole arm. And It hurts so bad. Police did this.” Then we were separated again. In the afternoon when I came back from the toilet, I saw Wu briefly again. He said his wife came to see him but the police wouldn’t allow it.

Then police showed me a subpoena, saying that I was subpoenaed for the graffiti.

I refused to sign it in protest against the unjust treatment before. Police again show a “inspection permit”, asking to check my belongings.

I said if they want to search my body they need a warrant, so several of them held me and searched me by force. They also took my belongings.

The police again asked me about the graffiti and recorded the interview. I refused to answer any questions except giving them my basic personal information. And I refused to sign the report. After a while, two policemen started to ask me about the generator being stolen property. So I recounted the whole thing to them in great details, signed and put my fingerprint on the report. Then the police returned my belongings.

At almost dusk I was taken away from the Jiuxianqiao police station by the police without prior notice and sent to the Chaoyang district detention house.

While waiting in an interrogation room, policemen from Jiuxianqiao police station brought Wu to my room. Policeman Luan Xiaoyong read a “written decision of detention” in front of him and asked him to sign.

Wu asked him, “Why are you asking me to sign when it doesn’t even say how long I will be detained?” Luan Xiaoyong said, “That will be decided after you are sent to the detention house. Sign first.” Wu refused and was taken away by police.

After that I never saw Wu again.

At around 10 pm that night, Beijing Public Security Bureau Chaoyang district branch made a decision to detain me for 10 days for “obstructing police duty, later caught by the police.” I was then transferred to Chaoyang district detention house.

Yang Licai
July 3, 2010

These photos show what happened to Yuang Licai’s studio and some of the statements he made with his ruined belongings.

Police seal on the studio of Yang Licai

Going into his studio to look at the damage

Empty studio, all his possessions thrown outside

One toilet left

Trashed belongings on display for all to see

I stand in solidarity with Artists Yang Licai and Wu Yuren and all the great Chinese Artists

Wu and his sweet daughter

You can read more about this incident in these articles:

The New Yorker – Little Ai

New York Times – Chinese Artist Who Led Protest Has Been Jailed, His Wife Says

The Star – Husband of Canadian woman beaten, held 36 days

Telegraph – Portray of a Chinese artist in detention

ML Art Source – Some Years: Wu Yuren

Global Times – Artist detained for 34 days

The Globe and Mail – For jailed artist’s family, Chinese justice is little more than revenge

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6 Responses to First hand account of two Chinese artists arrested and beaten, their studios homes and dignity all taken from them

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  3. Virginia says:

    Hello! I have read your blog a lot of times and today, with all the Nobel’s “thing” I remembered this text about Sugar Jar (Yang Licai) and Wu Yuren. I’m a tv reporter and tomorrow I have to make a report about Liu Xiaobo, his life, who is he and his humanity. My country wants to know him better and I need to talk with people that know him like Yang Licai. Do you have his email or telephone? I know that the situation now is very difficult but it’s ok for me if I can call him and talk to him recording his voice or we can meet somewhere in Beijing to film the interview.

    I’ll be waiting for your response, thanks in advance!

  4. C.A. Yeung says:

    Dear Virginia,

    Thank you for leaving a message. May I ask which TV station are you working for?

  5. John Steins says:

    I just listened to Karen Patterson – Wu Yuren’s wife – being interviewed about this case on CBC radio.

    Because of the “new media” such as the internet, etc. we are hearing more about abuses of authority than ever before. Doubtless, people in positions of authority have often crossed the line and have injured people in their care and custody. Today, we have more evidence to support this and therefore we should act in some way to make the police accountable.

    Trumped up charges like the ones levelled against Wu Yuren are unjust and absurd. It only serves to remind us that police all over the world often appear engaged in self-serving activities that under scrutiny would be contrary to the rule of law.


  6. 杨 立才 says:

    dear “Under the Jacaranda Tree”bloger and Diane Gatterdam:

    Today is my first visit to this blog Article, a friend
    Christopher Woodman who lives in Chiang Mai give me the link.Thank you very much for your help, and also thanks alot for the people who concern for human rights in China.

    @yanglicai on twitter

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