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陌陌号购买With the approval of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine Wednesday, Canada now has two shots to combat the pandemic — with enough doses on order to inoculate every Canadian by next fall.

As Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor face their third Christmas behind bars in China, a Canadian couple who lived through similar holidays hope China will provide the same “beautiful act of kindness” they received.

Julia and Kevin Garratt were picked up by Chinese state security forces in August 2014. Kevin spent 775 days in prison — a grim milestone Spavor and Kovrig will soon meet.

Both of them were first in a ‘black jail’ (extra-legal detention centre) for six months. After that, Kevin was transferred to prison and Julia spent a year and a half on what she describes as house arrest in China.

Time behind bars meant interrogation, missed meals, and lights on 24 hours a day. Once in the public prison, Kevin shared a cell with 14 people, forced to sleep head to head while other prisoners paced the aisles on watch.
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Click to play video 'Trudeau says he hopes for good news for two Michaels before the New Year'
0:30 Trudeau says he hopes for good news for two Michaels before the New Year
Trudeau says he hopes for good news for two Michaels before the New Year – Dec 16, 2020

“It’s very painful,” Kevin remembered in an interview with Global News at the couple’s home in Abbotsford, B.C. “There’s people walking right past your head all night. It’s very, very difficult.”

“What’s really very, very different is that time stops and it goes by in seconds,” said Julia.

Christmas, by contrast, was a bright moment. The Garratts say the Chinese made an effort to show kindness. The first Christmas involved a makeshift dinner, which their son attended. The second Christmas, Julia, who was out of detention by then, was brought in.

Read more: Canadian officials say two Michaels not tried by China, citing translation error

陌陌号交易It wasn’t your normal Christmas dinner, and not just because of a lack of turkey: there were two interrogators plus a couple of guards present, conservation was restricted and the couple couldn’t get too close with an empty chair separating them.
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On the second Christmas Day, Kevin was taken to an interrogation room where he met the judge who would be handling his case. In the Chinese legal system, the judge eventually replaces prosecutors, which the Garratts took as a sign of progress.

“But then it just went back to the normal, or worse than normal,” said Kevin.

“So I really feel for the two Michaels. They’ll be thinking, of course, of family, of Christmases past and wanting the same thing again, but they won’t be able to have it. So I’m praying and hoping that the government will allow them to have a call or something with their family, just to give them hope.”

Kevin says if connection with family happens, it would “be a really good sign,” while if it doesn’t, China is “really playing hardball with the Canadian government.”

The Garratts find striking similarities between their cases. Kovrig and Spavor were arrested in China in December 2018, shortly after Canada detained Meng Whanzhou, wanted by the United States. Her extradition case is ongoing in Vancouver.
Click to play video 'Report: U.S. deal could allow Meng Wanzhou return to China'
2:33 Report: U.S. deal could allow Meng Wanzhou return to China
Report: U.S. deal could allow Meng Wanzhou return to China – Dec 4, 2020

The Garratts spent 30 years living, working and volunteering in Dandong, China.
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They were so close to the border, they could see North Korea from the window of their apartment.
The former coffee house runs by the Garratts in Dandong, China.
The former coffee house runs by the Garratts in Dandong, China. Submitted: Kevin Garratt

 
View of North Korea from the Garratt’s old apartment in Dandong, China.
View of North Korea from the Garratt’s old apartment in Dandong, China. Submitted: Kevin Garratt
Kevin and Julia Garratt and family pose in front of the “Friendship Bridge” that links China to North Korea, in 2014.
Kevin and Julia Garratt and family pose in front of the “Friendship Bridge” that links China to North Korea, in 2014. Submitted: Kevin Garratt

Swarmed and separated by state security forces as they left a restaurant in 2014, the Garratts were taken just weeks after Canada detained a Chinese citizen in Vancouver.
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Su Bin was wanted by the U.S. on accusations of conspiring to hack military data from defence contractors.

In March 2016, Su pleaded guilty, agreed to be extradited and was sentenced to 46 months in a U.S. federal prison.

It would be another six months before first Julia, and then Kevin, made it back safely to Canada.

“I think they’re really much the same,” Kevin Garratt said of their case compared to Kovrig and Spavor’s.

Read more: Canadian couple detained in China know what ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig might be going through

The Garratts believe the stakes are higher in the ongoing case, as Huawei executive Meng is a high-profile VIP.

Julia believes Kovrig and Spavor are pawns, and hopes they can hold out for a peaceful resolution.

“It’s not easy to endure.”

The Garratts have been writing letters to the Canadian government advocating for the two men, and sending Christmas cards to Chinese embassies — part of a global movement to flood embassies with cards for Kovrig and Spavor.

“I think if the Chinese government sees thousands — or millions — of cards arriving at their embassy, I think it will make a statement to them that people are concerned and this just can’t go on,” said Kevin.

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