Looking back at the persecution he has suffered over the years, Mr. Liu Yongjin knows that unless he tells his story, no one will ever know the truth. “Because of the strict information blockade and family visitation denials, only the people who persecuted me know what happened—no one else knows,” he said. “And they will make up any excuse to hide their crimes.”
Having regained his freedom this June after 6 years of imprisonment for his belief in Falun Gong, Mr. Liu also feels the importance of shedding light on the atrocities that he and other practitioners have undergone in detention: “Many practitioners have been persecuted to death, and the truth has been covered up by the murderers. Being lucky to have survived, I have the responsibility to tell people what's happening inside Chinese prisons and detention centres.”
A Five-Minute Trial
After suffering forced-feeding and torture for a month, Mr. Liu was sentenced to the Tai'an Prison by the Lanshan District Court on March 21st, 2008. The trial took place at the Linyi Brainwashing Centre and lasted only 5 minutes.
The brainwashing centre is located at the Linyi Irrigation Technical School. The school had trouble admitting new students, so it struggled financially. As a new way to make money, it became a brainwashing facility operated by the 610 Office (an organisation of special agents just for persecuting Falun Gong).
15 Years Between Life and Death
Mr. Liu, 43, is a former employee of Linyi International Trading Company. Over the last 15 years, he has been arrested 5 times and sentenced to prison 3 times for practising Falun Gong.
He was taken to the Wangcun Forced Labour Camp in 2004. There he was tortured non-stop in an effort to force him to recant his belief, and he soon weighed less than 100 pounds; even his muscles began to atrophy. At that point the labour camp released him to avoid responsibility for his potential death.
While forced-feeding was the most common torture he endured, Mr. Liu also underwent savage beatings, forced drug administrations, brainwashing, sleep deprivation, electric baton shocks, and other tortures. On numerous occasions, he was pushed to the verge of death.
Lack of proper medical training
Unlike medical professionals who administer tube-feedings to save lives, prison guards and inmates in communist China use force-feeding to torture practitioners of Falun Gong.
Because they lack proper medical training, the prison guards and inmates often make mistakes when they force-feed practitioners. Sometimes, all it takes is a small mistake using this method to kill someone.
In 2004, when Mr. Liu was detained at the Wangcun Forced Labour Camp, prison guard Li Gongming clumsily forced the tube into Mr. Liu's lung. This serious mistake was ignored by the doctor overseeing the procedure.
Having suffered numerous force-feedings before, Mr. Liu knew the dangers of this torture. He struggled to extricate the tube to save himself. However, many other practitioners were killed in this same way.
It was also in June 2004 that Mr. Liu was arrested for a fourth time. He went on a hunger strike to protest brutal beatings by the police.
Under orders by a guard at the Linyi Detention Centre, six inmates pushed Mr. Liu down, held him still on the ground and cuffed his hands behind his back. “Don't ease up,” the on-site doctor demanded of the inmates. “He won't die.”
One inmate shoved the feeding tube into Mr. Liu's nose and yanked it back out. He repeated this several times until Mr. Liu was almost unconscious from pain.
Seeing the blood all over Mr. Liu's body, even the guard who ordered the forced-feeding was shocked at the brutality.
Three helpers from the Linyi Brainwashing Centre came and helped to continue the torture of Mr. Liu. Duan Haoyu clawed and scraped at Mr. Liu's skin; he also nearly broke Mr. Liu's ribs. Li Chengzhen grabbed Mr. Liu's handcuffs and shackles, jerking them in all directions until Mr. Liu's ankles began to bleed.
Song Wei from the Linyi 610 Office took Mr. Liu to the hospital; however, the trip was not for a rescue, but to ask a doctor to insert feeding tubes into both of Mr. Liu's nostrils.
Afterward, Mr. Liu was taken back to the detention centre and shackled to a chair. It was there that he was then sentenced to three years at the Wangcun Forced Labour Camp.
A leadership change at the Tai'an prison in 2011 resulted in intensified persecution of Falun Gong practitioners.
Inmates no longer needed permission to force-feed Mr. Liu or other practitioners.
They tied his limbs to each corner of a bed, stomped on his chest, and wrenched and clawed at his nose. As soon as he opened his mouth to take a breath, they force-fed him.
Mr. Liu recalled the tortures he underwent: “They held my head, tore at my nose, and stuffed my mouth with a towel. I was suffocating. It felt like I was dying.”
He had been on hunger strike for four days, so he was beaten with belts before being force-fed. He was extremely weak.
“I tried several times, but I just couldn't break away from their control,” Mr. Liu said. “But I knew that if I didn't, I would certainly die. So I used all my strength, and I finally broke away and took a deep breath.”
Since the inmates were also tired at that time, they let go. However, half-an-hour later, they repeated the torture.
“Death was just a few seconds away,” Mr. Liu said. “I could have died many times that day if I hadn't learned from the past experiences of being force-fed.”
Some of those past experiences came at the Linyi Brainwashing Centre and Detention Centre in 2008, where he was also beaten while being force-fed.
On one occasion, guards stepped on his head, ripped off his clothes, and beat him with leather belts and their metal buckles. Meanwhile, other guards force-fed him with sand.
Another time, the 610 Office head, Song Wei, beat Mr. Liu's chest and abdomen during a forced-feeding.
After he was taken to the Tai'an Prison, the inmates used a metal awl to pry open Mr. Liu's mouth, breaking his teeth. While others force-fed him, inmate Wang Yinbing choked him.
Forced Drug Administration
In addition to forced-feeding, drugging is another form of persecution that can often turn deadly. Mr. Liu suffered from this method many times over the past 15 years.
Before he was taken to the Tai'an Prison in late March 2008, the police took Mr. Liu to the Shandong Armed Police Hospital and ordered inmates to give him injections and to force unknown drugs into him. While Mr. Liu struggled, they beat him with shoes and stomped on him with their boots.
Shortly after he ingested the unknown drugs, Mr. Liu manifested symptoms of being poisoned: He could not move and had great difficulty breathing. When they saw that he was near death, the police, doctor, and inmates all left, leaving him alone on the bed.
However, fueled by a strong will to survive, Mr. Liu gradually regained consciousness.
The guards then fed him with the same drug two days later. The same symptoms recurred and Mr. Liu almost died again.
From then on, whenever the guards or inmates fed the drugs to him, Mr. Liu refused to swallow them and spit them out when the perpetrators left the room.
In 2004, when Mr. Liu was taken to the hospital for a forced-feeding, the head of the Linyi 610 Office, Song Wei, pinched his nose shut and forced some unknown drugs from a small plastic bottle into Mr. Liu's mouth. Mr. Liu immediately felt like his nose, mouth, and stomach were being pricked by thousands of needles.
Many other practitioners were tortured by Song Wei in this same way.
Mr. Liu was beaten with shoes, bamboo rods, and belts during his various detentions. The inmates stomped on his legs with their boots and stabbed his fingers with needles.
Sometimes the guards or police pushed him to the ground, ripped off all his clothes, dumped cold water on him, and beat him until they were too tired to continue. The bruises often took months to heal.
When he was arrested in 2000, the police stripped off Mr. Liu's clothes and tossed him outside, where it was -4° F. Other times, they pounded his chest, slapped his face, and refused him toilet use.
At the Wangcun Forced Labour Camp, Mr. Liu was shocked with electric batons. Guards Zheng Wanxin and Li Gongming took him to a confinement room, ripped off his clothes, and shocked him with at least four high-voltage electric batons. They focused on Mr. Liu's ears, nose, nipples, and thigh areas.
The torture lasted about half an hour. At that point, Mr. Liu was incontinent, and urine and blood was spattered all over his body.
He was dragged to a toilet and left alone on the floor, and it wasn't until 2-3 hours later that the guards drove him to the hospital for resuscitation.
In March 2009, Mr. Liu was detained in solitary confinement, which consisted of a cement cell less than two square meters. He had to sleep on the cold cement floor without any bedding, and the guards kept him handcuffed at all the times including when he slept and ate.
There was no toilet in the solitary confinement cell, so Mr. Liu could only use a bowl when he needed to relieve himself. The guards refused to remove the bowl, leaving Mr. Liu to sit in the fetid odor.
The guards also forced Mr. Liu to stand for long periods of time, which caused his legs and feet to swell. Sometimes the guards would force him to squat for hours.
Eventually, the guards began forcing Mr. Liu to do high-intensity physical workouts during the day, and then they locked him back in the cement cell at night.
For meals he was only given half a steamed bun. By the time he left solitary confinement, Mr. Liu's weight had dropped to below 100 pounds.
Other Forms of Corporal Punishment
When he was detained at the Chezhan Police Station in Linyi in 2001, the police handcuffed Mr. Liu's arms behind his back and used a metal rod to slam at the handcuffs. They hung him up, and the handcuffs cut into his flesh, causing his wrists to bleed. The scars on his wrists are still visible today.
At the Tai'an Prison, the inmates once forced Mr. Liu to squat and stand 500 times without rest. A few minutes after he finished, they told him to do it again. If he slowed down, two inmates would beat him in the ribs and armpits from both sides, and a third one would kick him in the back.
They once forced Mr. Liu to stand for 20 hours a day for three straight months. Another time, they had him squat on the floor for a month without sleep. To prevent others from seeing his terrible state, the inmates forbade his use of the public toilets.
Brainwashing and Sleep Deprivation
In the summer of 2009, the guards had ten inmates monitor Mr. Liu around the clock. They also forced him to watch videos that slandered Falun Gong in an attempt to brainwash him.
Once, several inmates refused to let Mr. Liu sleep for two weeks. As soon as he closed his eyes, inmate Yuan Xinke would beat him, hit his nose, or swipe a broom across his face.
Song Wei (宋伟), head of the Linyi 610 Office
Xing Yongnong (刑永农), police officer from the Lanshan Police Station
Wang Yibing (王义兵), Li Zhongxin (李中新), Yuan Xinke (袁新珂), Wang Guangtao (王光涛), Du Shanhui (杜善辉), Yu Zhijun (于志军), Zheng Quansheng (郑全生), Sun Qiming (孙启明), Zhu Peijun (朱培军), Zhao Yupei (赵玉配), Guo Xingdong (郭兴栋), Liu Tonghao (刘同灏), inmates
Zhu Xuhu (朱叙虎), warden
Lv Wenfeng (律文峰), instructor
Liu Zengzhong (刘增忠), deputy instructor
Zhao Yong (赵勇), guard
Wangcun Forced Labour Camp
Zheng Wanxin (郑万新), head of the No.8 Division
Li Gongming (李公明), political head
Wang Xinjiang (王新江), guard
Liu Lin (刘林), guard
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