Speech from the Stockholm International Conference on 'Genocide in the New Era' by a Former 'Prisoner of Conscience'

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The International Conference on “Genocide in the New Era”, organised by “Friends of Falun Gong Europe” and “International Advocates for Justice”, took place in Sweden’s capital, Stockholm from January 26th to January 28th 2004. This is one of the conference speeches by former 'Prisoner of Conscience' Zhao Ming, which was given on the morning of Wednesday January 28th.


My name is Zhao Ming. I am a Chinese national, but now I am stateless and holding refugee status in Ireland. I am still studying. As a Falun Gong practitioner I was persecuted in a Chinese labour camp for nearly two years. Due to the diligent efforts of many kind-hearted people, human rights organisations and the Irish government, I was released in March 2002. I am lucky to have been rescued and freed. Today I am speaking here not on behalf of myself but on behalf of millions of Falun Gong practitioners who are being persecuted in China. I would like to share with you some of my very personal experiences about my suffering in China’s labour camps.

Once in Haidian District Detention Centre of Beijing, the police guard told the inmates in the cell to force-feed me in a very brutal way when I was on hunger strike. One of the inmates held my nose tightly so that I had to open my mouth to breathe. At the same time, another inmate poured liquid food into my mouth continuously. I tried my best to turn my head to breathe in some air, but my head was held very tightly by them and it was not possible for me to turn my head at all. When I opened my mouth to breathe, they put a tooth brush in to keep my mouth open and poured in liquid very quickly. I hardly had any chance to breathe, liquid got into both my bronchi and oesophagus. I coughed very violently afterwards and felt very painful in my lungs for many days after. It was actually a very dangerous procedure. Quite a few practitioners recorded on our web sites were tortured to death in this way.

Several practitioners in the labour camps were tortured into losing their sanity. During the Chinese New Year 2002, a section chief of Beijing Labour Camp Bureau whose surname was Luo came to Tuan He Labour Camp to see me. He said nothing really meaningful except one sentence, “I hope that you will not become like Wu Jun.” Wu Jun was a Falun Gong practitioner who was tortured into losing his sanity. Some practitioners told me that he once saw Wu Jun lick saliva off the ground. Another practitioner told me that some gangsters sexually abused him. Now this section chief Luo was directly referring to Wu Jun to threaten me. I knew that they would torture me sooner or later.

About two weeks before the end of the one year and ten months extended labour camp period, they finally started. Firstly they did not allow me to sleep for forty eight hours. Very exceptionally, on the evening of the second day of depriving me of sleep, one policeman told me to watch TV. While I was watching, he rushed into the room suddenly, pulled me and pushed me all the way along the corridor to a police office. When I got into the room, I saw a bed board on the ground and some straps torn from bed sheets. Five policemen were standing in the room including three section chiefs of Tuan He Labour Camp. I knew they would torture me using electric batons. They pressured me to renounce Falun Gong. I refused. Then they put me on the bed board and started to bind all parts of my body on the board to prevent my body from going into spasm during the shocking. They bound my ankles, my thighs, my upper body, my arms and across my mouth. Afterwards, they asked me to renounce Falun Gong again. I refused again. Then one police guard took out a bundle of electric batons, which were about half a metre long, and distributed them to the others. They started to shock me all over my body simultaneously. My body was trembling very violently and was completely out of control. I heard the sound of very intensive electric sparks. One police guard took one baton in each hand and started to shock my chest. He moved the two batons in circles in parallel to my body to shock me with the metal winding around the baton. That shocking made me breathe rapidly. My throat was dry with a burning sensation. They continued shocking while pressuring me to renounce my faith from time to time. I said nothing but was breathing deeply and rapidly. I tried my best to endure, but suddenly one of my legs went into spasm. The pain was huge. I just could not think rationally any more. At that moment I agreed to sign the things they requested.

During the days after that I could not sleep well. I often woke up suddenly at night. When I was awake, I nearly went crazy. A big opposition was in my mind. I could not agree with what I had done at all. But it was not the end. Days later, the police got a CCTV journalist into the labour camp to interview me. That woman journalist had made a lot of programmes slandering Falun Gong. Actually she had interviewed me once before. In a previous interview she pretended to be very supportive to Falun Gong and asked me all my experiences and benefits in this practice. But her real aim was to get some footage to show that I was living very well in the labour camp so as to deny the torture and cheat the public. But this time, she was not friendly at all. Her face looked dark and evil in the shadow of the window light. She asked me while holding in hand the paper that I signed, “What do you think of Falun Gong now?” I knew very clearly that if I said anything complying with her, it would be broadcast to cheat more than a billion people all over the country. I definitely would not do that. I gathered all my courage and rationality and answered all her questions by saying repeatedly “I have nothing to say.” Maybe because of the strong international pressure, they did not torture me any more.

Days later, I was released. I stepped out of the labour camp without any happiness, hope or relief, because my spirit had been murdered. I was not free at all. I was closely followed by secret agents every day after being released.

Some commonly known genocide in history was aiming at eliminating a racial group. But this on-going genocide against Falun Gong practitioners in China is totally aiming at eradicating a spiritual system. The police guards were committing all the torture to force us Falun Gong practitioners to renounce our belief in Falun Gong. Over the twenty two months of detention, I was transferred back and forth between two cities, three detention centres, two labour camps, three police stations and one drug rehabilitation centre. On different occasions I tried to appeal to higher officials to complain about the abuses committed by some police guards or inmates, but I found more and more clearly that the torture, brainwashing and different kinds of illegal treatment were actually planned, instigated and admitted by high levels. The persecution against Falun Gong is being implemented by the whole police system all over the country. What is happening in this persecution of Falun Gong in China has met with the definition in the current International Convention against Genocide. Now the number of verified death cases in this persecution has reached more than eight hundred. The death toll has not reached millions at the moment, but all the characteristics of commonly known genocides have been manifested in this persecution of Falun Gong:

  • Policy to target at a specific group was made by top-level government;

  • All levels of government, the whole police system and secret police system have been ordered to implement the persecution;

  • A big population of innocent people are being persecuted;

  • The whole country’s propaganda machine is used to incite hatred among people, silence the international community and justify the persecution;

  • All the most inhumane atrocities have occurred: rape, torture, psychiatric drug abuse, murdering etc.;

  • There is no possibility in a domestic judicial system to seek justice or to restrict the atrocities.

If there had not been strong resistance and exposure by the Falun Gong practitioners and big concerns from the international community, a big holocaust would have happened much earlier in this persecution. I learned that in the official meeting of this forum many people are discussing about the definition of genocide. I do not think this is the topic to discuss. Now there is already an on-going genocide that we can identify. What should be discussed is what we should do about it. Now is the time to act!

I believe this conference “Genocide in the New Era” is a very historical one because it is the first time that the lawyers from different countries who are filing lawsuits to sue the Chinese perpetrators have come together to discuss about this issue. I have acted as a plaintiff in a series of these cases. I want to take this chance to thank my lawyers. You are not only helping me or other plaintiffs but also upholding justice for the tens of millions of Falun Gong practitioners being persecuted in China. I understand that there are a lot of technical difficulties attached to these lawsuits. But I believe that law should be a tool to assist in seeking justice instead of preventing people from seeking justice. I believe there will come a day when the Chinese dictator Jiang Zemin, who has instigated the persecution of Falun Gong, will be brought to justice in a court in China. On that day, people will all find that what you are doing today is very meaningful, very meaningful.

Thank you.

Zhao Ming
28th January 2004

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