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Zhang Kai’s blog: Who moved our surveillance cameras?

Monday, December 20, 2010

(Mr. Zhang Kai is a prominent Christian human rights lawyer in Beijing. He posted the following at 2010-12-18 00:36:36 Translated by ChinaAid http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_4c6e59110100npim.html)
I went to the North Taipingzhuang Police Station yesterday to check the video from the surveillance camera at the scene of the incident (see ChinaAid report: http://www.chinaaid.org/2010/12/unidentified-assailants-ambush-attorney.html?utm_source=BP_recent).  Strangely there was no footage from the spot where I was ambushed.  It seems that Beijing’s security really needs some rectifying. Can you believe that such an important location as the North Third Ring Road is not being filmed by cameras?
I’ve suddenly discovered that “lost” surveillance cameras seem to be rather commonplace in China in the past few years.  Here are a few examples:

Speeding car case in Hebei University. In the speeding car case at Hebei University that shocked the whole nation (the “My father is Li Gang” case), the investigator at first claimed there was no way to measure the speed of the car.  I suggested that they could determine the car's speed from the surveillance video because it records the times when a person enters and exits the surveillance camera’s field.  Then the investigator’s explanation was that there were surveillance cameras right before and right after the scene of the accident but none at the exact location of the accident itself.
Wang Yu incident. On May 4, 2008, in the waiting room of Tianjin’s West Train Station, 38-year-old Wang Yu and her husband were going to see a departing friend to the train, but got into an altercation with a train station employee when they were going through the turnstile to get to the platform. After the incident, Wang was accused of causing intentional harm, but Wang said she herself was beaten up. What really happened could only be determined through the surveillance video. Tianjin’s West Train Station at first issued an official statement saying there was no surveillance camera at the turnstile. When a lawyer came up with a photo of the area with a surveillance camera above it, the West Train Station issued another official statement saying that the camera was broken.
Hide-and-Seek Incident. On February 8, 2009, the death of an inmate in the Puning County Detention Center in Yunnan province was said to be an accidental death during a game of hide-and-seek.  This is the famous hide-and-seek incident.  The detention center claimed: “The surveillance camera has been broken for half a year and was not repaired.”
Death from Removing Pimples Incident.  In November 2009, Yu Weiping, a villager from Gaocun Town, Wendeng Municipality, Shandong Province, died in a detention center. When his family members looked at his body, they found puncture wounds in the chest area. They were told at the time that they were the result of pimples that had been removed. The autopsy however showed the deceased had been “repeatedly stabbed in the chest by sharp needle-type objects that caused rupture of the heart which in turn caused hematocele in the pericardial cavity that resulted in death due to cardiac tamponade.” The surveillance video has a gap of 30 seconds in the footage showing the deceased drinking water and taking medicines. The images before and after the gap do not match up, but the authorities have no explanation for this.
Wu Xiaoqing Suicide Incident. At 12:31 on November 28, 2009, suspect Wu Xiaoqing, former director of the Executive Bureau of Chongqing Municipal Higher People’s Court, after writing his last will and testament, took advantage of his fellow inmates in the same room taking their afternoon naps to dodge the surveillance camera and, using the waistband of his cotton slacks, hung himself from one of the jail's interior doors, committing suicide.  In this National Class-1 detention center said to have the most advanced computerized surveillance system, the surveillance video stopped at 12:31 and the frame remained frozen for 41 minutes.
Death from nightmare incident. On March 27, 2009, Wuhan native Li Wenyan died a sudden death in the Jiujiang Detention Center, Jiangxi Province. The explanation given by the detention center was that Li never woke up after having a nightmare. When the family members asked to see the surveillance video, the detention center said the video for that particular area was unavailable due to a malfunction of the computer hard disk.
Death from Excitement Incident. In the December 2009 “death from excitement” incident of Wang Huixia, a woman from the rural areas of Sanyuan County, Shaanxi Province, there were no video or audio recordings of the 20-some-hour interrogation by the Fuping County Public Security Bureau.
Fall in Beijing Subway Line 2 Incident: On August 23, 2010, Ma Yue, a junior English major at Southwest Jiaotong University, fell to his death from the platform at the Gulou Street Station of Beijing Subway Line 2. Ma’s family believes he died of electric shock. There are a total of 24 surveillance cameras in the Gulou Subway Station, distributed on the north and south sides of the station. The subway company claims that the entire surveillance system had malfunctioned and they therefore could not provide any surveillance video.  The investigation therefore was inconclusive.
April 24 Shooting Incident at Qitaihe.  At about 7:50 on April 24, as an armored truck from Longjiang Bank went to deliver some cash to its Zhenxing Branch at Qitaihe, the bank temporarily closed the area in front of the branch. As one armed personnel surnamed Niu stood guard beside the armored truck with his gun, another armed personnel was moving the cash boxes with the bank employees. While this was going on, a passerby surnamed Wu wanted to force his way through the cordoned area. Niu told him the area was temporarily closed and asked him to go around.  Wu refused and insisted on forcing his way through. He and Niu scuffled and Wu threw Niu to the ground. When the other armed personnel walked out of the branch, he tried and failed to stop the fight and was also thrown to the ground by Wu. Niu fired a warning shot into the air, but Wu wouldn’t stop and he again dashed toward Niu and again threw him to the ground. After he fell, Niu opened fire. Wu was shot and killed. Relevant persons said the surveillance cameras at the time of incident were out of order, so there is no footage of the incident.
Death from Comforter Incident.  On November 25, 2010, Qi Yeqiang, a man from Maoming, Guangdong province, died a sudden death at the No. 1 Detention Center of Maoming. When his family asked the Maoming municipal police asked how he had died, a responsible person of the police department said, “It might have been miocardial infarction” but another policeman gave this unexpected answer: “He might have suffocated to death under his comforter.” At the most critical moment, the surveillance video goes blank for 20 minutes.  The Public Security Bureau’s said this was because the surveillance camera is set to film only intermittently.
The above were all public incidents of important significance.  Yet, all the surveillance cameras mysteriously malfunctioned or stopped filming.  This really makes a person wonder:  So who is it who is tampering with our surveillance cameras?

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