The ‘Hole’ Story: My Two Months of Hell in the Taipei Detention Center
Read Part One here.
So there I was in Sanxia… It was Christmas Eve, December 24th. We arrived there around 8 pm. There was a crew of police officers in different uniforms, more serious, cold and analytical. There were female police officers, too. They had yellow envelopes for each of us. They took any valuable possession and put that into the envelopes — money, phone, rings, piercings, absolutely everything that costs money. We were asked if we want to claim something important, or say something that maybe they needed to know.
I had nothing. No phone, 200nt (about US$8). They took off all my piercings, my toe ring and sealed the envelope. They searched my bag and took away my medicine, painkillers, two sleeping pills and my migraine meds.
“We’ll consult a doctor if you can have this. Next.” They took a photo of each person and made a prison ID for us. Every person had a number. I was 3992. That number was our name inside. We were numbers, not people. They made us wear our ID at all times and there was a punishment or yelling each time somebody would misplace it, or god forbid lose it. Washing toilets, cleaning beds, serving food, no phone calls for a week, no visit — those were the punishments. Everybody made sure our ID was always hanging around our neck (it was a small plastic nametag with picture inside and a very thin string).
After we got the ID we lined up and got taken to a physical check. The women who were doing that told us to take off our clothes, get naked, or in our underwear, touching, looking, shouting, rushing us like cattle, like we were sheep. I hated them at that moment, and I lost my temper, telling one of the guards “Yeah… You like that don’t you. Here. I have nice tits. Grab them, they’re much better than yours!” ha ha ha I liked pushing their buttons later on. Some of the guards were rude and disrespectful to all, the others, I can’t complain. Nice, very nice, funny, human.
I will remember those women. Some of them really made my stay there easier. I can’t lie. They spoke to me when I was sad or lonely, made sure I get my medicine (if I needed it), tried to make me eat more in a nice way, gave me things other guards wouldn’t. Some of them really wanted me out and safe, home. Each day they reminded me to be strong, that soon I was going to be out and be happy again. I am thankful to three of them. The rest of them were BITCHES, major biyatches I loathed!
We were all tested for pregnancy, x-rayed for TBC, gave blood etc. There was a doctor who was there 3 times a week, but nothing in that place was free. The doctor, the toothbrush, toothpaste, socks, tissues –everything cost money at Sanxia. Most of the women spend their money on phone cards. Me too. Talking 10 minutes on the phone was the sane time, time for tears, time for joy, time for hope. Phone calls… ahhh the voice on the other side meant so much, reassuring you, loving you, giving you news. Any kind of news was better than none.
There was a lot of arguing and fighting inside because of the phone cards or the calling time. Girls were going nuts if someone talked more than 10 minutes or someone cut the line. It was insane.
The first 5 days when you enter Sanxia, you’re not allowed to talk to the others, cry or leave the isolation corner. There was a cage inside — a cage. Ha! Yes! The isolation corner. So there I was inside the isolation cage for Christmas and New Year. Wicked! Imagine spending two holidays you usually spend laughing with friends, family, boozing, smoking, dancing… Well, this time you can’t! You must sit on a floor, dressed in an orange and neon green jumpsuit, hungry because the food is crap, and not allowed to talk or walk! That was some major BS. I walked anyway. I left the corner and went to the bathroom a lot, just so I could stretch my legs or not go crazy.
I was the only “white face” inside. There were groups of women – from the Philippines, China, Vietnam and Thailand. No Americans, no Canadians, no Europeans, no Aussies, no Kiwis. Nope. Just me! Alone… And everybody else in groups. Eating in groups, showering in groups, making phone calls or playing cards in groups. The Filipinas got very close with me and took me under their wing. The Vietnamese women were bitchy and very selfish, always causing fights and noise. The Chinese or Thai were the snappy ones. You never know what they would do next. The Filipinas were gossiping, dancing and sharing. I didn’t like the gossip, but I did feel like they were the most comfortable to be around.
There was a list of their countries on one board and a time they can make a phone call each day. There was no ‘Europe’ or any other country written on the board so they kind of screwed around at the beginning, always telling me I couldn’t make a phone call because it’s not my time — that it’s theirs. I literally lost my shit one day because of this and nearly smacked one Chinese woman in the face with the phone receiver because she was not letting me dial. All the Filipinos started yelling at China and Vietnam, defending me, all the noise, and the mess… ay yay yai! Drama! Chaos… Every day… Every single day was drama and cheesy karaoke shit! Finally the boss of the guards entered, told me very politely to calm down, told everybody something very fast in Chinese and yelled at them.
Finally she said it in English: “From today, 6612 can call home or her loved ones whenever she wants, is that clear?” She looked at me and told me, “No more than 10 minutes M—. ” I was so happy, she said my name. My name. Not the number, but my name. And she defended me. It was a big step forward in that accursed place. From that day on that woman and 2 other guards helped me and took care of me in a way.
Read Part 3.