at 8:55 am (Beijing time) on 8th July 2008, 7 or 8 security staff were waiting for me as i left my apartment. They made me go back into my apartment and hand in my mobile phones to them along with my passport. 2 of these people were filming everything with small video cameras.
I was informed that I had broken the laws of the country and according to those laws had to leave immediately. when I asked exactly why I was being made to leave, I was told that I ought to know what I had done wrong. I was not allowed to contact the British Embassy.
Before being allowed to pack anything my apartment was thoroughly searched and some items such as books about Tibet (some were in Chinese, bought in China) and a T-shirt which had Tibetan writing on it were confiscated. My tickets for Olympics events were also confiscated along with my Bank of China bank book – I was also made to give them my PIN number for that bank account.
6 people escorted me to the airport in a minibus in a convoy with 2 black cars in front and 1 black car behind us. The filming also continued. I was put on the 13:35 Air China flight to London and told I was forbidden to come back to China for 5 years. My phones and passport were handed back to me just as I was boarding the plane – this was all also filmed. It seemed to be a big operation to deport me and I would estimate at least 30 people were involved – and those were just the ones obvious to me that I could count. They were all plain-clothed and I do not know, beyond jingcha, exactly who they were.
Having seen many of my friends being forced to leave China in the recent weeks due to visa problems I thought myself fortunate to have a valid work visa until November 2008. However, this just wasn’t meant to be. As some of you may know, there have been two previous times where security have made themselves known to me since April of this year. I have been promised a copy of my deportation notice, they said that they will give it to whichever of my friends goes to my apartment to pick up the rest of my things. Whether I will ever see this document remains to be seen.
I feel very sad to be leaving my friends behind and worry for the personal safety of many of my Tibetan friends. It is an unfortunate way to leave a city that I feel a strong connection with having been based there since September 2006. I hope that I can go back one day.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your work – I have enjoyed meeting and talking with all of you and I hope we keep in touch. Should any of you come to London on your travels then do look me up!
With best wishes,
London, 8th July, 9:15pm GMT