many still in jail
just got back to the bay area an hour ago. i wanted to post asap to generate support for our men folk. i don't know where to start, but i will try to be organized in my thoughts.
the men farmers (and 2 of our homies) are still detained, to my knowledge. at least that was the last word as of 12pm 12/19 when i left hong kong. i was stricken with sadness at abandoning our dong-gi's. our farmers who have been so kind, open and giving. and our own menfolk... what will happen?
the numbers of the total arrests have been mixed. i have heard anywhere between 900-1200 peeps. i don't know for certain. when we got back to our compound at around 4am on the 19th, we were told that we would all leave, except for a few who would stay behind to make sure our men got home safely as they were being released. it would be on an one-by-one basis. and as soon as they would be released, they would have to leave. it was crazy at the compound. those who had stayed behind were fenced in themselves, not able to come nor go. they couldn't do anything for us. they were powerless. i was so glad to see some of faces of the men who came back before the arrests. i kept thinking of all of those who are still there. in any other situation, we were told, we would stay and continue to struggle. struggle to get our menfolk released, struggle for our dignity. but this situation was our of our control. we were told from the top that there is nothing we could do with such small numbers and no resources.
i met some of the thai folks at the airport. the one thai woman who was in jail with us was there. i was so glad to see her, as i was worried for her. she was the only non-korean in our jail, and i didn't know when she would be released. thinking of having to be in that shitty hell-hole by herself was terrifying for me. she said that there were 50 thai men still being held.
the ladies were all released around 10pm - 12am ish on the night of the 18th. we were part of the first crew (from the n delegation) to get arrested around 6-ish am, and we got to the jail (i don't even know where) at around 10am. we met with some attorneys from hong kong people's alliance a few hours later, and i was so glad to see a in the meeting serving as interpreter. we were told that if all went well, we would all be released around 3 or 4. if not, we might have to stay in there for 48 hours, since none of had been charged with anything.
4pm came and went, and no news. some folks left to meet with a human rights attorney, but still no word. we were initially told that they would let everyone go peacefully. we heard that there were still 300 people on the streets, still struggling, still fighting for our release, to close down the wto talks. they were struggling for us. but a few hours later, my hopes crashed when i heard that the police wanted to investigate and make sure the leaders were held accountable. i didn't know how long we'd be in there and i was getting more down be the hour. every time i tried to sleep, all i could see was the farmers' faces, smiling and joking with us. each face has a special place in my heart. some of them will stay longer than others. those who will get caught being on the front lines (i don't know how they can determine that in 48 hours with so many people still locked up), or leading the "violence" will get punished severely, as we were told. what does that mean... how long will they be held? what will happen to them? how can we help...
i had many conflicting thoughts in jail. i thought about being at home, in my comfortable bed, with a hot shower under my belt. i thought that it was better for us to have gotten detained so that others could still fight and struggle. i thought, damn! i should have stayed behind. but what options were there at that point? it was either behind cold and hungry inside jail, or being cold and hungry on the streets. either way, it was hellish.
i will finish my thoughts later. i need to get my priorities straight and make some calls.
lastly, i was privileged and honored to have been able to lead some chants while were were on the streets, just prior to the tear gas. a held it down proper and i contributed my 2 cents too.