Editor's Note: Mr. Zhang Huiqiang, a Falun Gong practitioner in his 40s from Fushun City, Liaoning Province, was an engineer employed by the Fushun Ethylene Chemical Factory, a state-owned enterprise in China. In May 2002, three years after the Chinese communist regime launched the persecution of Falun Gong, he was arrested and detained in the basement of his workplace, where he was severely tortured for 84 hours.
The following is his personal account of the torture he suffered.
How I Was Arrested
I went to work as usual on May 23rd, 2002. At 9:00 a.m., my supervisor sent the Party Secretary to ask me to report to his office. As soon as I entered his office, police officers Guan Yong and Zhang Bin came out of hiding and pushed me down onto a sofa. They pulled out their guns and pressed the muzzles to my temples. Then, they cuffed my hands in front of my stomach, and the weight of Guan Yong's body immobilized me.
The pair informed other officers that I had been caught. During the whole process, my supervisor stood behind his desk and watched expressionlessly.
I was subsequently taken to the factory's security department, where Guan Yong ordered two other police officers to restrain me. Other officers then ransacked my office. After searching my desk, drawers, and lockers, they seized my wallet, home keys, and an envelope containing my bonus of more than 3,000 yuan1.
I was then pushed into a vehicle and held down in the backseat, flanked by two officers. They drove to my house. While I was still held down, Guan Yong and Zhang Bin took my keys and ransacked my home for about 20 minutes. They came back with two large, full bags, but did not say which of my belongings they had taken.
Interrogation Through Threats and Torture
They drove back to my workplace and took me to a room in the basement. Inside was a broken square table, on which laid electric batons, nylon ropes, and leather belts.
The officers pushed me into a chair and cuffed my hands to the armrests. The handcuffs were put on so tightly that my wrists bled. With the ropes, they tied my arms, torso, waist, and legs tightly to the chair. I was held in this position for more than 80 hours.
After tying me to the chair, the police went away and left only a security guard on watch. After a while, Guan Yong and Liu Heping came back with pens and paper in their hands. They asked me: “Do you know what crime you have committed? It would have been considered an act of a counter-revolutionary in the past. Do you know how many years you could be sentenced to? We know everything about you. You have to cooperate with us. Tell us everything you have done and who you have been in touch with. Then we can help you and take a few years off your sentence.”
Because I followed Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance (the main tenets of Falun Gong), they tied me to a chair and labeled me a “counter-revolutionary.” The law meant nothing to them.
When I refused to give in to their demands, they threatened to take away my job and income. They then threatened to take away my wife’s job and my child’s education, but I still refused to give them the answer they wanted. Before leaving, they told me to think about it overnight and reconsider my position.
2. Sleep Deprivation
The police sent security staff to watch me at night and deprive me of sleep. They were divided into two groups, each with 4 to 6 people. They didn’t give me any food or water, and I was not allowed to use the toilet.
They took turns talking to me. Whenever I started dozing off, they hit my head, slapped my face, and kicked my legs. They also lit cigarettes and blew the smoke in my face.
3. “Crossing the Forest” Torture
I felt as if the night lasted as long as a year. The next morning, I began to feel dizzy. I had a headache and a dry mouth. I also felt pain in my eyes, buttocks, and legs.
The police came back. Guan Yong interrogated me again with verbal abuse and threats. I still refused to comply. He went on to gloat about his ability to extract confessions from hardened criminals and even murderers before threatening to torture me.
Liu Heping added that they would have other police officers work on me in shifts until I cracked. By his side, another officer waved around his electric baton, which produced blue sparks and emitted a crackling noise.
Zhang Bin took a leather belt and brought it down on top of my head. Immediately, I felt a hum in my brain and saw stars. Before my vision cleared, the officers began to beat me. One of them hit the left side of my face so hard that my teeth became loose.
I still remained silent.
They suddenly stopped the beating. Breathing heavily, they must have wondered if I had died or passed out, as I didn’t make a sound during the beating. After confirming that I was still conscious, Guan Yong told the others to use more severe means.
Mr. Zhang’s teeth fell out as a result of the brutal beating.
They untied one of my legs. Guan Yong sat on my leg that was still bound to the chair, while another officer lifted my other leg and pushed it into my chest. Then, they pushed my calf toward the back of my head.
My back and legs were in so much pain that it felt as if I were being ripped apart. I clenched my teeth and made no sound. After a while, they put my leg down. However, as soon as my leg was down, they lifted it and pushed it toward my head again.
4. Burning Torture
The police finally put my leg down and left the room. I tried to seize the time to sleep a little, but the guard on duty kept kicking my chair and punching me in the head. He used various means to keep me from sleeping.
I felt extremely cold and could not help shivering. However, I kept reminding myself that I had to stay in control of my body and could not let my mind cave in to the pressure.
I began to expose the persecution about Falun Gong to the officers around me. I told them that it's a self-cultivation practice in the Buddha School. I also told them the principle that good deeds are rewarded while evil is punished. They listened and gradually stopped bothering me. I was finally able to rest for a while.
I wasn't sure how much time had passed. It was probably evening when I woke up. The security staff watching me had switched to another group. Soon, Guan Yong and other police officers came back, reeking of alcohol. Hearing Guan Yong complain about being unable to find a hacksaw, I wondered what they intended to do to me.
Later, I found out that they planned to immobilize my jaw somehow and saw through my upper teeth horizontally. Then, they would pour hot and cold water on the exposed nerves to torture me. Even though they didn't go through with this plan, they managed to loosen several of my teeth along the way.
Guan Yong lit a cigarette and pulled up a chair to sit beside me. He inhaled deeply and blew the smoke in my face. He told me: “I’ll send you to a detention centre in a couple of days. The guards there won't be so nice to you. Look at how long your beard is! Before sending you there, I need to give you a trim.”
He took out a cigarette lighter and began to burn my beard off, which gave off an unpleasant odor. Soon, my lips, the surrounding skin, and my nostrils blistered.
I shook my head to get away from the lighter, but someone grabbed my hair from behind so I couldn’t move.
Guan Yong ordered his partners to unbutton my shirt and roll my undershirt up to my armpits. They then pulled my trousers down as far as the ropes binding my legs would allow. Guan Yong began to burn my genitals with the lighter. I twisted my body to try to avoid the flame, while the smell of burning flesh and hair filled the room.
Because I had not been allowed to use the toilet for more than 40 hours now, the stench was even worse. Some police officers complained that the room was too small and unventilated, requesting to move. Guan Yong was forced to pause for a moment, but later began burning my chest and torso.
Guan Yong then lit the lighter, counted to 10 while moving it back and forth in front of me, and pressed it against my body. He asked, “Is it hot?” The next time, he counted to 15 before doing the same, then to 20, and so on.
At first, I shook involuntarily whenever the flame touched my skin. Then, I would blow out the flame. Guan Yong responded by moving the flame further away from me and shielding it with his hand.
The intensity of the burns also increased: Guan Yong went from leaving a red mark to blistering the skin, and finally to waiting until the burning flesh gave off an audible hiss and emitted smoke.
While trying to blow out the flame, I refused to make any sound acknowledging the pain. I absolutely would not give them the answer they wanted. Later, I stopped feeling the heat and pain.
Writing to this point, I've had tears flowing down my face. Even though this event happened more than 11 years ago, my memory is still fresh.
The burning torture went on for so long that the lighter became too hot for Guan Yong to hold. He started smoking a cigarette and leaned in toward me, as if concocting some new horror in his mind.
Suddenly, he inhaled deeply. Taking advantage of the rejuvenated flame, he pushed the end of the cigarette onto my hand. Instantly, my skin gave off smoke and the odor of burning flesh. My hand twitched and instinctively tried to withdraw from the flame, but the motion only deepened the wounds on my wrists, which were still cuffed to the chair.
Guan Yong later used the same method to burn all 10 of my fingernails. Afterward, I couldn't bring my fingers close together because of the painful blisters. Even so, they still couldn't get the response they wanted out of me.
Eleven years later, Mr. Zhang's right pinky fingernail still has not fully regrown.
5. Tied Up with Rope and Other Torture
To keep me from falling asleep, Zhang Bin poured a bottle of water on my head. Because my body was already trembling from the cold, this made my condition even worse.
The police also used a thin nylon string to tie my arms behind my back. The string was routed through my hands and hung across an iron pipe above me, such that I was suspended in the air and only my toes touched the ground.
They used other forms of torture on me as well.
Summary of Key Persecution Facts:
Name: Zhang Huiqiang (张慧强)
Occupation: Engineer at the Fushun Ethylene Chemical Factory
Date of Most Recent Arrest: May 23rd, 2002
Most Recent Place of Detention: Basement at his workplace
Persecution Suffered: Electric shock, being burned with lighter and cigarettes, sleep deprivation, beatings, being tied up/suspended with rope, tiger bench, denial of toilet use
1. "Yuan" is the Chinese currency; 500 yuan is equal to the average monthly income of an urban worker in China.
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