On July 3rd, 2010, Falun Gong practitioner Ms. Liu Shuling was tortured to death at the Harbin Drug Rehabilitation Centre in Heilongjiang Province. According to witnesses, Ms. Liu was placed in a metal chair and killed by shocks from electric batons. There was a ring of ecchymosis (discolouration of the skin as a result of bruising) at the back of her left ear and neck.
Ms. Liu Shuling, 55, lived in Township 57 in Hongwei Town, Qitaihe City. In 2008, she was sent to the Harbin Drug Rehabilitation Centre to be persecuted. She was expected to be released on July 26th, 2010.
Ms. Liu's family received notification on July 3rd from the rehabilitation centre stating that Ms. Liu died suddenly in the toilet from a heart attack. According to a detainee at the rehabilitation centre, no one was allowed to go to the toilet, and each person had a bucket in their room to relieve themselves. So how could Ms. Liu Shuling suddenly be dead in the toilet?
As soon as Ms. Liu's family received notification, they went to the City Second Hospital and saw a ring of black ecchymosis around her neck. A doctor from the rehabilitation centre claimed that the ring was something that normally happens to a corpse. The family wanted to inspect the body, but the police refused and told them that they need to get permission from the medical examiner to see the entire body. They also told them that if they wanted to inspect the body, it would cost them 8,000 yuan1 and the authorities would not offer them money to pay for the funeral. Several police then threatened the family, telling them to quickly have the body cremated, and to sign an “agreement” which stated several times that Liu Shuling died a natural death. Because the family lived in financial difficulty, they signed the agreement, with the promise of receiving 2,850 yuan from the government out of “humanitarian concern.” However, the family did not receive a penny.
Because of the many suspicious points regarding Liu Shuling's death, a Clearwisdom correspondent interviewed another Falun Gong practitioner who was also detained at the Harbin Drug Rehabilitation Centre at the same time. For safety reasons, her name has been withheld. The following is her account of what she witnessed in the rehabilitation centre around the time of Ms. Liu's death.
1. Mistreatment of Falun Gong practitioners at the Drug Rehabilitation Centre on July 1st
The morning of July 1st, 2010, all guards attended a meeting, leaving only one guard on duty. The director Zhang Hongyan and Zhao Jiakun presided over the “all-hands” meeting. They publicly planned how to force Falun Gong practitioner to give up their belief.
At around 12:30 p.m., officer Yu Miao told me that team leader Liu Wei wanted to talk to me. I was taken to the team leader's office on the third floor. When I went down the stairs, I saw many new guards, both male and female, in the room. After I entered the office, the door was shut, and Yu Miao guarded the door.
Then I heard what sounded like three or four officers pushing someone down hard outside. That person seemed to hit the door frame – it was practitioner Yu Xiaohua. Yu shouted loudly, “Falun Gong is good.” The persecutors used adhesive tape to seal her mouth. I heard the sounds of kicking, verbal abuse, and handcuffs being applied. Then I heard the sound of that practitioner being pulled away. The sound of beatings and verbal abuse lingered. I also heard the loud sounds of many people running up and down the stairs, and the dissembling of a bed.
Later on I got to know that under the instigation from the centre's director Zhang Hongyan, team leader Liu Wei personally instructed the following guards to abuse Falun Gong practitioners: Yang Mingjun, Liu Ming, Liang Xuemei, Zhang Chunjing, Xie Lijia, Zhao Xuhui, Shi Shuai, Lu Boya, Wang Haiying, Yu Kun, Yu Miao, Chen Xiangyi and others, as well as criminal inmates Qu Feiyan, Zhang Huan, Sun Ping, Wu Qingling, and Gao Sheng. The twelve practitioners abused were: Liu Shuling, Yu Xiaohua, Liu Hui, Ma Shufen, Liu Yanhua, Cheng Li, Wang Fengxia, Men Qiuyin, Ren Shuxian, Xie Wei, Gao Yumin, and Tong Yaqin.
The abuse happened in separate rooms on the fifth and sixth floors. The practitioners were hung up, had to sit on metal chairs for long periods of time, and were handcuffed and shackled on beds. This torture lasted the whole afternoon, until past 5:00 p.m.
The sudden persecution continued for more than a week, during which team leader Liu Wei was on duty. The twelve practitioners were subjected to various forms of brutal persecution. Meanwhile, to cover up their crimes, the guards kept all of the other people being held in the rehabilitation centre in their rooms. They were not allowed to leave even to use the toilet. They had to stay in their rooms and relieve themselves in buckets, and food was brought to their rooms.
By July 5th and 6th, some practitioners came back. Ms. Wang Fengxia's hands were cuffed and were purplish-black in colour, the same with her legs. Some practitioners had symptoms of high blood pressure and heart disease. However, Liu Shuling was not back.
2. Liu Shuling persecuted to death, rehabilitation centre officials claimed that she was released
When I was in the rehabilitation centre, I heard from director Liu Wei that Liu Shuling had been released and went back home. When I came out, I learned that Liu Shuling was persecuted to death.
I remember many suspicious points about Liu Shuling's death:
In the evening of July 2nd, I heard two painful yells coming from the sixth floor. Liu Shuling was dead on July 3rd, the day her family saw her body, but the date of death was written as July 4th.
What was the cause of the rings around Liu Shuling's neck when she died? Why not allow her family to take a closer look?
The rehabilitation centre had inmates use buckets in the rooms instead of being allowed to use the toilet, so why did officials claim that she died in the toilet? Why did they make the family sign an agreement? The officials were in a hurry to cremate her body, to destroy evidence, and thus prevent her family from having a post-mortem examination done.
Around 9:30 p.m. on July 2nd, right after roll call, I heard two painful screams and other unusual sounds, similar to what I heard on May 4th, when Liu Shuling was being tortured.
3. Yu Kun participates in the abuse of Liu Shuling
The morning of May 4th, Ms. Liu Shuling was sitting by the bed. Guard Yu Kun came to make trouble for the fourth time. He took off her quilt, verbally abused her, and then called her up to the office. He grabbed her by the neck and made her sit down in a chair, saying, “This room doesn't have a monitor. I can beat you any way I want."
As soon as Ren Shuxian and I heard Liu Shuling screaming, we ran up to the office. When we arrived, Yu Kun's hands were held around Liu Shuling's neck. We quickly pulled him away.
On June 8th, Ms. Liu wrote a long letter to the centre director, requesting proper handling of the matter. She also warned them that she would expose the abuse once she was released.
4. Forms of persecution used in Harbin Drug Rehabilitation Centre
All detained practitioners were separated at first and subjected to brainwashing and sleep deprivation. They had to get up at 4 or 5 a.m. and were only allowed to sleep at midnight.
Practitioner Wu Tiange from Jiamusi was locked in the toilet to compel him to “reform” [forcibly renounce Falun Gong]. He was made to sit on a small stool among the latrine pits in this smelly, windowless place. Other practitioners were held in a warehouse, a chamber under the stairs, or small rooms. There was endless physical abuse and brainwashing.
(2) Extending terms
Any guard may extend a practitioner's term. Talking, walking, and going to the restroom can all be used as an excuse to extend the term. To extend the term of a criminal required his/her signature. No such thing applies to Falun Gong practitioners; that was simply announced on the public bulletin board.
(3) Depriving practitioners' right to see their families
Team leader Liu Wei and deputy Sun Baolian made the decision to deprive practitioners of family visitation. Wang Xiaoyun's family was not aware of this situation, went to the rehabilitation centre three times, and ended up not seeing her.
(4) Forced labour – working overtime
There are no weekends at the Harbin Drug Rehabilitation Centre. Practitioners and some criminals were often ordered to do forced labour that included weaving flaxen cloth, sorting paper, picking soybeans, planting corn, packing chopsticks, packing toothpicks, making handicrafts, and other chores. They also had to work in an unventilated basement. In recent years they packaged toothpicks a lot. If they could not finish the assigned task, their terms would be extended. Each batch of goods needed five to ten days to process. This usually required working overtime before the toothpicks were shipped for export. Practitioners' terms would be extended for the slightest infraction.
(5) Charging high fees for necessities
All detainees were forced to pay a 280-yuan fee. In return, they got an army issue quilt, a wash bowl, cheap washing necessities, and a pair of slippers.
From the fall to the following June, all meals were made from radishes and pickled cabbage. The prices at the centre were much higher than the market price. Seven medium-sized apples cost 15 yuan. Seven small bananas cost 10 yuan.
(6) Security checks
Unannounced security checks targeted Falun Gong practitioners. Guards Sun Baolian, Yu Miao, Xie Lijia, Young Wang Dan, Yu Kun, Song Yang, Xing Yu, and Chen Xiangyi shamelessly removed practitioners' underwear during security checks.
(7) Mistreatment of Ma Chunli and Liu Yanhua
After being tortured for 21 days at the Jiamusi Detention Centre, practitioner Ma Chunli was sent to the rehabilitation centre while still unconscious. The physical exam showed that her heart had an enlarged atrium, and the hospital decided on immediate emergency treatment. Nevertheless, Jiamusi Detention Centre officials declared, “It is all right. She won't die.”
Ms. Ma Chunli cannot take care of herself, so team leader Liu Wei instructed hot-tempered Wu Qingling to watch her. Wu tortured her at will. Ms. Ma could not swallow food, often vomited, and frequently twitched involuntarily. She was bedridden since arriving at the centre, and was even unable to use the restroom because of her inability to move. There was no one to help her clean herself, and she smelled bad. During inspection or visitation, four people would carry Ma on the mattress and hide her in a corner. Those practitioners who dared to speak up or dared to appeal, together with those that were sick, were hidden in a warehouse, the guards' dorm, or other areas.
Liu Yanhua was sent to the rehabilitation centre by the Yichun City 610 Office (an organisation of special agents just for persecuting Falun Gong). Liu Yanhua refused to do forced labour and was physically abused, tortured, and isolated. She also refused to wear the rehabilitation centre uniform. She was still detained with an extended term as of this writing.
The above is my testimony of what happened at the Harbin Drug Rehabilitation Centre.
1. "Yuan" is the Chinese currency; 500 yuan is equal to the average monthly income of an urban worker in China.
Chinese version available at http://minghui.ca/mh/articles/2010/10/21/231276.html
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