On the shore of the East China Sea, there is a beautiful wetland in Jiangsu Province, part of a nature preserve for red-crowned cranes. While this is a safe haven for these elegant, iconic creatures, a little known fact is that it's also home to the Fangqiang Forced Labour Camp. Here, horrific crimes are committed against innocent people, torturing them ruthlessly for their belief in Falun Gong.
Abuses and Mistreatment I Personally Experienced
Local 610 Office1 agents arrested me without a warrant and took me to a detention centre. They held a covert trial on June 16th, 2000 and charged me with "sabotaging the administration of state law." I declined the services of the court-appointed lawyer and defended myself. I stated, "I am a good person, living simply according to Falun Gong principles of Truth-Compassion-Forbearance. I have broken no law." The verdict was issued on September 28th, 2000, but the court officials waited until December 12th, 2000 to announce it. First, the judge said no criminal conviction would be filed against me, but then the police declared I had been sentenced to two years of forced labour. The indictment was also changed from "sabotaging the administration of state law" to "disrupting social order." The deputy police chief and 610 Office agents operated behind the scenes, and as a result, four practitioners including myself were sent to the Fangqiang Forced Labour Camp.
Fellow practitioner Mr. Xi Xudong
I became acquainted with a practitioner from Changzhou City, 68-year-old Mr. Xi Xudong, a retired maths teacher. He was arrested when holding up a banner that read, "Falun Gong is good" on Jinshui Bridge in Tiananmen Square. He didn't talk very much, but I was often moved to tears by his selflessness and amazing courage to safeguard the truth. Two weeks later I was transferred to Division 1.
The guards called a gathering of all detainees one evening in late January 2001. They wanted us to watch a TV programme about the staged self-immolation incident on Tiananmen Square2. I instantly realized it was a fake. I wrote a paper to expose all the obvious errors in the video:
Tiananmen Square is huge, some 440,000 square metres covered in concrete. It is not known for fire hazards. How did the patrolling police instantly obtain so many fire extinguishers? Why was the square so empty that day, as the only people seen on the video were the police and the people who set themselves on fire? One of the five, Wang Jindong, claimed he studied Falun Gong for eight years, and yet he couldn't even cross his legs properly! [The fifth set of Falun Gong exercise requires double-crossing one's legs] Falun Gong practitioners normally shout something like, "Falun Gong is good! Restore our Teacher's reputation!" But Wang Jindong shouted nonsense. In fact, Wang looked like an actor. CCTV [China's state-run central TV network] had the entire stunt perfectly staged and professionally produced: there were long-shots, close-ups and video segments from surveillance cameras. The incredible readiness of all the equipment made it appear more like a show than news. The 12-year-old girl, Liu Siying, suffered serious burns but was wrapped in so many layers of gauze at the hospital that she looked like a mummy. This makes no sense, however, since burn victims normally have their wounds exposed so they can heal.
Division 1 is the Communist Party's "advanced model for reforming people," ["reform" in this context is a term that describes forcing someone to renounce their belief through torture and brainwashing]. Political head Wang Fei and the guards are forerunners in the persecution. It was winter when they sent me there, and soon we began digging ditches. We would get up before dawn each day and walk for 30 minutes to get to the work site. Although my family brought me a pair of rubber boots, but due to their poor quality they soon leaked. Soon the rubber boots they filled with rain and snow and became too heavy on my feet. I took them off and walked barefoot on thick, frozen mud. It was commonplace to have cuts and scrapes from the reeds.
Division 1 was divided into two groups: one group worked in the field and the other group worked on the sewing machines. Fifty-nine-year-old Liu Wutang from Nanjing City had previously been assigned to the sewing group but was later sent to dig when the outdoor project began. The officials tried to destroy Falun Gong practitioners' willpower by having them do heavy manual labour.
My brother, my daughter and a classmate came to visit me in April 2001. They waited outside the gate at noon. The detainees returned at dusk. My visitors looked at everyone but could not find me. They did not recognize me because I was gaunt and pale. They were startled when I called out to them, and when they saw it was indeed me they began to cry.
Fertilization of the rice paddies commenced in June. Each man had to carry a bag of fertilizer weighing 50 kg [110 lbs] and walk 700 metres [2,296 ft] on the narrow and slippery ridge [the raised earth between two fields]. With the slightest distraction one would instantly lose balance, and man and bag would fall headlong into the muddy field. When the guard saw someone tumble he would shout, "Hurry up!" He was worried the fertilizer might get wet and paid no regard to the condition of the worker. We poured the fertilizer into a container and spread it quickly and evenly in the field while treading arduously in knee-high water. I got blisters on the small finger of my right hand from repeatedly and quickly spreading the fertilizer with the right hand. The heat was sweltering, and even the water in the field was warm. My clothes were sweat-soaked. I had long ago finished the bottle of water I brought from the labour camp. There was nothing left for my parched lips. To quench the burning thirst, I squatted and drank mucky water from the ditch. At the end of each day I could barely move.
Poor Quality of life
Over the period of one year I was held at Division 1, Division 3 and Division 7. Although we toiled for more than 12 hours a day, we were given meagre portions of food that could not even satisfy the hunger, not to mention the basic nutrients. Breakfast was a tiny bun about one liang [1.32 ounces], and diluted congee made from leftover rice; once a week we would get a little salted vegetable. That bit of food would have to provide us energy for 5-6 hours of hard work. When we asked the guards to improve the quality of the food they answered, "The government doesn't give us enough money. This is not a five-star resort where you can be well-fed." At the same time, the guards buy their own food with money they embezzled from government funding and money they extorted from the detainees.
Most of the time the buns were undercooked, because the detainees working in cafeteria don't know how to cook. Their families had bribed the authorities to secure the workers a relatively comfortable position, to work in the cafeteria.
In the summer it was impossible to take showers; it was rare luxury to have a bucket of water to clean oneself with. In the winter, we would suffer more from taking a shower. A group of 14 people were given ten minutes altogether to take showers. They had to share three faucets. Frequently, the water would stop running when we had just soaped ourselves. Nevertheless, the guards made us clean the cells and the hallways daily. The floor was so shiny you could see your reflection. We made our beds military-style, but the guards forbade us to use the quilts, all in case inspectors came for a visit.
Anniversary of April 25th Peaceful Appeal
A group of us from the field group spoke with each other and decided to do something special to commemorate the second anniversary of the peaceful appeal that took place in Beijing on April 25th, 1999. On April 25th, 2001 we sat next to a flowerbed and recited Falun Gong teachings. The guards became aware of our activity. The group head, sentries, and inmates immediately jumped on us, trying to disperse us. We stood up, locked arms and continued to recite articles. The inmates assigned by the guards to monitor us hit us crazily. It was chaos.
Refusal to do slave labour to protest abuse
Sixty-two-year-old Mr. Wang Yongxin from Zhenjiang City was brought to Division 1 in late March 2001. His wife was held at the Jiangsu Province Women's Labour Camp for practising Falun Gong. He refused to work after a few days. We discussed the circumstances and agreed that since this is a place for criminals and not for us, we should not comply with their orders, which by their nature constitute a violation of the Chinese constitution. So we stopped working.
One day I stood there while the detainees worked the fields. When it was time to go back, head guard Gu Chun tried to turn the inmates against me by telling them to keep working, saying the reason was because I did not respond to roll call. I asked, "I also didn't answer roll call this morning; why didn't you say anything then?" He couldn't answer and told everyone to curse Falun Gong as a precondition for ending the day's labour. I immediately tried to stop him. Several guards and quite a few inmates were present; only drug addict Liu from Changzhou did as he was told.
Another time they ordered the inmates to fix a leaking dam. I refused to do it. Head guard Gu Chun instructed several guards to drag me to the site and make me walk in mud. I struggled. Inmate Zhou Jiaping held me tightly and jumped into the pile of mud. Strangely, he landed on the bottom, although he is a tall and brawny man and had initiated the jump. They tore my shirt. I was covered in mud from head to toe.
We protested the persecution mostly through work and hunger strikes. I held several hunger strikes. The persecutors retaliated by force-feeding me through a thick plastic nasal tube. It was a horrible ordeal.
I went on a hunger strike in June 2001 while being held at Division 1. They force-fed me for several days. Doctor Wu saw blood on the feeding tube when he pulled it out. He told the authorities that I would develop ulceration of the oesophagus after multiple sessions. Guard Wang Fei refused to listen to the doctor and said, "We'll make him eat, one way or the other! Now, just do it!" He grabbed the tube himself and forced it in and out of my nose as if plunging a clogged toilet in order to exacerbate the pain. One practitioner was in critical condition from the feeding tube perforating his lung. They took him to Yancheng City for emergency care.
Twenty-eight of us practitioners held at Division 3 went on a hunger strike in late September 2001. We made two requests: first, remove the slanderous propaganda against Falun Gong on the bulletin board; second, end the persecution and unconditionally release all practitioners. In response, they shocked us with electric batons. Through our continuous efforts, however, the libellous posters were removed. Practitioners held in other divisions except Division 2 also held group hunger strikes, which was a powerful message to the persecutors.
Electric shock and solitary confinement
Electric shock and solitary confinement are common methods used to "reform" Falun Gong practitioners. There were four solitary confinement cells, each consisting of a small metal door at the front and three concrete walls. A concrete platform 60 cm wide [24 inches], less than 2 metres long [6.5 ft] and 20 cm tall [8 inches] was the bed. A tattered straw mat was the bedding, and a soiled quilt with indistinguishable patterns emitted an awful stench. A small, lidded plastic bucket stood next to the bed. That was the toilet. The detainee was forbidden from leaving the room to use the toilet. The tiny space between the concrete bed and the wall was the place where one was punished by prolonged standing. I stood between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily in strict military posture. Two guards monitored the detainee in shifts. The only time I was allowed out of the cell was to bring the bucket to empty it in the toilet next door. Usually, solitary confinement lasts ten days during which the detainee is forbidden to take showers or change clothes.
Elderly practitioner Wang Yongxin refused to do slave labour and exposed the Communist Party's lies to the inmates inside the courtyard at Division 1 in early June 2001. Guard Wang Fei and Discipline Section head Huang Jianjun spoke with each other. Huang Jianjun arrived at Division 1 and handcuffed Wang Yongxin. They took the old man to the Strict Control Division where they shocked him with two electric batons for a long time and then locked him in a 3 square metre [32 square ft] solitary confinement cell.
I was transferred to Division 3 in early July 2001. Practitioners from different divisions stopped working to protest the persecution. I refused to pull weeds on July 9th. Group head Zhang Mouqing ordered two inmates to watch me and make me walk behind the detainees. When the political head Chou Zhengliu saw that I was not doing anything, he told four guards to push me into a rice field.
Zhang Mouqing felt he had lost face because I did not cooperate with him; at the end of the workday he pushed me into a ditch filled chest-deep with water.
Before that, at noon, group head Zhou Hongjun, group head Zhang Chenggong, and sentry Zhao Guiqing put me in a car and drove me to the Strict Control Division. They left me in a vacant room. I closed my eyes and sat on the floor. Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain on my head; when I open my eyes I saw them shocking my head with electric batons. They stripped off my shirt and shocked me with four electric batons, each one about 50 cm in length [20 inches] and wrapped with thick copper wires, which enhance the flow of electricity. Huang Jianjun attacked me with two batons; guard Yang from Nanjing kept hitting my scalp [they had previously shaved my head], my forehead, eyelids, lips, cheeks, ears, neck, armpits, chest and back.
The second day of my solitary confinement, Tang Guofang from Jiangsu Province Labour Re-education Bureau arrived with three collaborators3 from the Jiangsu Women's Forced Labour Camp and tried to reform me.
Over the next ten days I was given food about one third of a normal portion; in addition, I was forced to stand for 18 hours a day. The toilet was right next-door. Clouds of flies and mosquitoes bombarded me day and night. There was no bug repellent or mosquito net. The guards even forbade me to kill the mosquitoes. I could not sleep. They did not let me take a shower, wash my face or brush my teeth.
The third day practitioner Su Yan was brought to Division 7. He was a college graduate from Wuhan, and was arrested in Xuzhou. His legs and feet began to swell the second day he was forced to stand. He eventually could not longer were shoes because of the swelling, and his legs resembled water balloons. They also prohibited us from talking with each other.
This is only a personal account. The unconscionable crimes against good people are still happening on a daily basis at the Fangqiang Forced Labour Camp.
1. "The 610 office" is an agency specifically created to persecute Falun Gong, with absolute power over each level of administration in the Party and all other political and judiciary systems.
2. The "Tiananmen Self-Immolation" [an incident on Tiananmen Square in January 2001 whereby four people set themselves alight and the Chinese Communist claimed they were Falun Gong practitioners, yet there was video evidence to strongly disprove this claim]
3. "Collaborators": former practitioners who have turned against Falun Gong under brainwashing and torture. They are then made to assist in brainwashing and torturing practitioners.
Chinese version available at http://minghui.org/mh/articles/2008/10/10/187410.html
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