In early 2013, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) announced a plan to abolish the notorious forced labour camp system, which had been instrumental in the persecution of Falun Gong. In November 2013, it declared that it would close down all forced labour camps by the end of the year.
However, as Amnesty International's December 2013 report stated, “It's clear that the underlying policies of punishing people for their political activities or religious beliefs haven't changed. The abuses and torture are continuing, just in a different way.”
Brainwashing centres, which are much less known, have taken over part of the role of forced labour camps.
Even though brainwashing centres are officially called “legal educational centres,” “legal training bases,” or “thought transformation schools”, they have nothing to do with law, education, or schooling.
They serve as extrajudicial prisons, where Falun Gong practitioners are jailed for as long as the 610 Office (an organisation of special agents just for persecuting Falun Gong) desires. Local 610 Offices and police have the authority to put practitioners in brainwashing sessions as frequently as they please.
A brainwashing centre doesn't have to be specifically built for that purpose. A hotel room, a school classroom, or even the victim's home can be turned into a brainwashing centre. The torture instruments used are all portable.
While forcing practitioners to constantly watch propaganda videos that slander Falun Gong, brainwashing centre staff also physically torture them. The torture is intended to coerce practitioners to renounce their belief in Falun Gong. Tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners are jailed there, and more than one hundred were tortured to death in such brainwashing centres. Brainwashing centres are sometimes called “black jails.”
The Number of Brainwashing Cases Sharply Increased in the Second Half of 2013
As forced labour camps were shut down, the number of Falun Gong practitioners jailed in brainwashing centres dramatically increased. From January to June 2013, 181 such cases were reported. However, in the second half of the year, as the labour camp system started to phase out, the number jumped to 1,044.
In August, when the government first started to close the forced labour camps, numerous new brainwashing centres were set up in Shanxi, Hubei, Heilongjiang, Zhejiang, and Shaanxi provinces, among others. The brainwashing centres' growth was reportedly directed by the CCP's provincial committee.
Many Falun Gong practitioners who were jailed in forced labour camps were not freed after the forced labour camp system was abolished. They were directly transferred to brainwashing centres.
In fact, many brainwashing centres have been built at sites previously occupied by labour camps, such as the ones in Dalian and Huludao in Liaoning province, and Xianning in Hubei province. The officers in the brainwashing centre in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, are actually plainclothes officers from the forced labour camp, who used the same torture methods carried over from the labour camp.
Direct Transfers to Brainwashing Centres from Forced Labour Camps
In 2013, some Falun Gong practitioners were taken away by officers from the brainwashing centre soon after they were released from prisons or forced labour camps.
Wei Qun, a teacher at the 65th High School in Daqing, Heilongjiang province, was sentenced to five years in the Heilongjiang Women's Prison. Her term expired on August 27th, 2013. However, on the day she was released, the local 610 office sent her to a brainwashing centre in Mishan city, 500 miles from her hometown.
At the centre, the officer attempted to force Wei Qun to quit practising Falun Gong and sign a guarantee letter to renounce practising Falun Gong: “If you don’t sign, we will cut you open and sell your organs.”
Wei Qun refused to do so. She was deprived of sleep for three days and badly beaten up. The officer also hung her up for a week. Wei Qun went on hunger strike to protest. Currently, she is jailed in a brainwashing centre in Jixi city.
Jiang Xibo, a teacher at Qianjin Farm High School in Jiangsanjiang, Heilongjiang province, was released from the women's prison in Harbin on September 9th, 2013. On the same day, police officers from Qianjin Farm sent her to the brainwashing centre in Qinglongshan. Her family did not have a chance to see her after her “release” before she was taken away.
Sun Xiao, 42, was released from Fangqiang labour camp in Jiangsu province in January 2013. In August, a 610 officer in Wuxi broke into his house and kidnapped him. He was then sent to the brainwashing centre in Xinghua city, Jiangsu. Many practitioners in different areas experienced the same, including Zhang Yisu in Beijing, Yuan Bin in Sichuan, Zhu Jingyun in Jilin, Huang Youqin in Shaanxi, and others.
Kidnapping Seniors and Children
Several brainwashing centre cases in 2013 involved seniors and children. In October, 610 officers in Xinzhou District, Wuhan City took Mei Jianying, 60, to the brainwashing centre in Liuji. Her one-year-old grandson was also jailed in a cell with four locks on the iron door. Six cases of practitioners' children being jailed were reported in 2013.
Liu Meizhang, 70, from Mishan City, Heilongjiang was jailed in the brainwashing centre in June 2013 for a month. In the centre, she fell and injured her spleen. Even so, she was not released until 36 days later. After she was released, the local government asked her to check in at the centre once a week. Four days after a spleen surgery, head of the centre Fu Xiuli forced Liu Meizhang to go to the centre, saying: “You have to come, even though you are hospitalized.” Liu Meizhang never recovered from the injury, and passed away on November 8th, 2013.
Zhang Shuxiang from Zhaoyuan City, Shandong, 60, was jailed in the local brainwashing centre in April. As soon as she arrived, the head of the centre,Yuan Binkui kicked her down to the floor. Then Yuan held her up and slapped her a dozen times. Zhang Shuxiang was jailed in a dark cell for three days, deprived of food, water and a blanket.
Other cases include Gu Jiushou in Chongqing, Huang Zhaojin in Heilongjiang, Lu Aizhi in Yantai, and Huang Diedie in Wuhan, each of whom are over 70 years of age. Two practitioners kidnapped by policemen from the Railway security in Jinzhou City, Liaoning, were 93 and 82 years old.
Violence in Brainwashing Centres
The communist regime’s purpose of setting up brainwashing centres is to force Falun Gong practitioners to renounce their belief, often through violence. Below are a few examples.
On September 6th, Ren Xiuyun from Nanshan District, Hegang City, Heilongjiang Province was sent to a brainwashing centre located in a local rural credit bank, and was jailed there for 24 days. Policemen Zhang Zilong, Shi, and Li badly beat her and shocked her on her arms and breasts with electric batons. She was also forced to watch propaganda videos that slander Falun Gong. Even her sister, who brought clothes for her, was cursed at and beaten by the policemen.
In May, Wang Lijun, a practitioner in Tianjin, was badly tortured in a local brainwashing centre in Dagang District in Tianjin. Three of his teeth were knocked out, his eyes were swollen, and he became deaf in one ear. He was healthy before being sent to the brainwashing centre, but he is now confined to a wheelchair.
Brainwashing centres in several areas reportedly added unknown drugs into practitioners’ food, which caused damage to the nervous system, with the most noticeable effects being headaches and hallucinations. In 2013, such cases included Wang from Hubei in April, Xiao Zhang in Jiangyan City, Sichuan Province in October, and Gu Jiushou in Geleshan, Chongqing.
Facility for Extortion
Brainwashing centres have been used by government officials to make fortunes via extortion.
In the brainwashing centre in Kuiwen District, Weifang City, Shandong Province, the policemen treat Falun Gong practitioners as ATM's. When they need money, the policemen would circle the names of a few practitioners and send them to the brainwashing centre. Practitioners are kept there until they pay a fee to the centre.
The brainwashing centre in Qinglongshan, Heilongjiang province asks each practitioner jailed there to pay ten thousand yuan (about $1,660) for living expenses every month. But practitioners there were merely fed cheap food during the day, and sometimes they didn't even have enough food for dinner.
On August 13th, the 610 Officers Zhao Pengfei and He Wei from Boli County, Heilongjiang Province kidnapped Zhao Yue, a teacher at the seventh county high school. The officers asked the school to pay ten thousand yuan for Wang Yue’s living expenses at the brainwashing centre.
Brainwashing centres all over China are powered by the 610 Office system, which is an extralegal task force responsible for carrying out the mission of eliminating Falun Gong.
Although the forced labour camp system has been shut down, the 610 Office has not. In the second part of this report, we will review the criminal acts the 610 Office has perpetrated in 2013.
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