Recounting My Hellish Experience in Heilongjiang Women's Prison

I am a Falun Gong practitioner from Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province, China. I was imprisoned in the Heilongjiang Women's Prison for six years for persisting in practising Falun Gong.

Prison guards locked me in a tiny cell for almost two months, handcuffed to a metal ring cemented to the floor. They also handcuffed my hands behind my back for a year and a half, hung me by the handcuffs, forced me to stand outside in the freezing cold, and beat me repeatedly.

Unjust Arrest

Wang Hongchao, captain of the Xinhua police substation, along with a Hulan City police offixer, visited my home on May 24th, 2002. “Can you come with us to the police station?” they asked. I handed them a recent medical report that showed that my mother-in-law—who was staying with our family at the time—had had a heart attack, and should not be unnecessarily alarmed or startled. My husband asked, “Can you guarantee that my wife will return safely?” “No,” said the officer, who then called for “backup.”

A few minutes later, approximately 30 police officers descended on my home, under the direction of Wang Keda, head of the political department of the police station. The police stood in the hallway and surrounded my apartment building. Many residents came out to see what was going on. I opened my window and shouted, “I am a Falun Gong practitioner and practise Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. Instead of catching criminals, these police officers are persecuting good people!” Wang Keda ordered the police to grab me and escort me to a waiting police van. Two officers held my arms tightly on the way to the detention centre.

My mother-in-law witnessed my arrest and was upset. She was hospitalized and passed away shortly after. My father-in-law, who was paralyzed in bed for many years, also passed away, most probably from the grief and shock of his wife's sudden death.

I was sentenced to a six-year prison term in December 2002 and sent to the Heilongjiang Women's Prison.

Sitting on a Small Stool, Standing in the Freezing Cold

When fellow practitioners and I refused to do forced labour in April 2003, brigade heads Kang Yaling and Cui Yan forced us to sit on small stools from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., for several days in a row. Finally, over ten guards in riot gear and helmets came to our cell to force us to work.

More than 30 practitioners were forced to stand still until midnight for not announcing their assigned prison numbers during roll call on October 16th, 2003. They were also forced to squat down and hold their name tags in front of them. A few days later, the guards increased the forced standing time by two hours, ending it at 10:00 p.m.

We were later dragged outside in the bitter November cold, wearing little clothing, and ordered to stand still. Days later, the brigade heads ordered guards Wu Xuesong, Jiang Wei, and Lin Jia, along with inmates Cui Xue and Zhao Yueqin, to make us run around outside. Practitioner Ms. Tie Junying, who was at the front of the line, refused to move. When they saw that we would not follow their orders, they dragged us to the back of the men's prison and forced us to stand. They removed our coats, hats, and gloves. We stood in the freezing cold from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and had no food or water.

Practitioner Ms. Zheng Hongli had passed out in the cold. My hands were handcuffed behind my back for telling others to send righteous thoughts, and we were all shivering. This continued for seven days. When we were ordered back to our cells each evening, our bodies ached from head to toe.

The practitioners who were tortured like this included Wang Hua, Wang Fajuan, Wang Yuxian, Wang Shuxia, Xu Xiawei, Wang Jiali, Pan Qingli, Liu Yaqin, Zheng Jinbo, Shen Jinge, Chen Yunxia, Miu Xialu, Chen Weijun, Guan Fenglan, Zheng Hongli, Li Jingwei, Wang Shufang, Wang Jinyue, myself, and others.

The guards who participated in the torture included Xiao Lin, Kang Yazhen, Cu Yan, Wu Xuesong, Lin Jia, and Jiang Wei.

The inmates who the guards instigated to participate in the torture included Yue Ge, Zhang Yu, Cu Xue, Fu Xiuling, Zhang Xuan, Yang Shuhua, and Li Yueqin.

On the evening of the seventh day of the freezing torture, practitioner Ms. Lu Shuqin and I refused call out our inmate numbers or wear our name tags during roll call. Inmate Cui Xue kicked Ms. Lu until she spit blood. The next day she was sent to the prison hospital ward. I was handcuffed in the washroom for 24 hours.

One evening I was dragged out of my cell for roll call, but I did not call out my name or squat (we were required to squat with our heads bowed). A guard yelled, “Make her squat!” Inmates Zhao Dahong (a drug trafficker), Pan Guiling, and Hou Zhiyun (convicted murderers), kicked my legs and held me down by my shoulders.

Handcuffed Behind My Back for 24 Hours

Ten practitioners and myself were handcuffed one day in the washroom. Six of us were handcuffed behind our backs and had to stand for several days in a row. We went on a hunger strike to protest. On the fourth night, eight of us collapsed from exhaustion and wound up sleeping on the cold, wet concrete floor. Ms. Chen Weijun landed in a pool of water, and Ms. Zheng Hongli, and I fainted. Inmate Wang Xianli and Xu Guilan dragged Zheng Hongli and me to the prison's warehouse, where we spent the rest of the night. We were later dragged back to the washroom after we regained consciousness. Inmate Xu Guilan intentionally took a shower as we slept, drenching us.

We were later locked in the washroom during the day and slept on the brick floor of the prison warehouse at night. Our hands were handcuffed from behind except when we ate or used the toilet. Inmate Yan Shuhua wrote our names on a piece of cloth and stitched it to our clothes. When we undid the stitches, she got upset and stabbed our heads with a needle. Practitioner Ms. Sun Guizhi's head became very swollen. When I refused to allow Yan to stab me, she savagely kicked my legs with her boots.

On February 7th, 2004, we read some of the Falun Gong teachings that we had handwritten on a few pieces of paper. Prison head Liu Zhiqiang saw what we were doing from a video monitor in the main control room. He stormed into the washroom, grabbed our handwritten notes, and ordered the guards to lock me, Sun Guizhi, and Miao Xiaolu in very small confinement rooms. The guards removed our warm coats and trousers, leaving us wearing only thin blouses and long undergarments. They opened the window to let us freeze. We were confined like this for a month.

On March 8th, guards locked Ms. Miao Xiaolu, Ms. Sun Guizhi, and me in the washroom during the day and then moved us back to the prison warehouse at night. Seven other practitioners were also locked in the washroom. Ms. Chen Weijun and Ms. Wang Fang later went on a hunger strike to protest the abuse. Prison doctor Shang Xiaomei force-fed them, and left the feeding tube in for eight straight days. When the tubes were finally pulled out, there was mould and mildew on them, and Ms. Wang Fang had a terrible cough. Ms. Chen and Ms. Wang were later tortured to death.

Handcuffed and Hung Up

Guard Kang Yazhen ordered practitioners Sun Guizhi, Wang Fajuan, Miao Xiaolu, Zhen Yunxia, Zheng Jinbo, Zheng Hongli, and me into her office and asked us whether we would wear our name tags and follow the inmates' orders. When we replied, “No,” we were taken back to our cells. Several guards and inmates tortured us by handcuffing us from behind (see image below), then hung our arms over the top bed rail so that our feet were off the ground.

Practitioner Ms. Wang Fajuan fainted from this torture within about ten minutes. When she finally came to, one side of her body was seriously injured, and she could only stand up by propping herself up against the wall. Others had severe cuts on their wrists.

Inmates Yang Shuhua, Hu Xiaoli, and Zhang Qingmei yanked my hands behind my back and tightened the handcuffs. I was in so much pain that I could not fall sleep that evening. I told the guards, “If I become handicapped from this, I'll tell my family to sue you!”

When the three inmates tried to hang me up by my arms, they couldn't do it, so they asked ten inmates to assist them. They all pushed my arms up behind my back and handcuffed me to the top bed rail. Only my toes were touching the ground. The handcuffs instantly cut into my wrists. I was left like this for three days, even during meal times. Although they offered me food, I was in so much pain that I had no appetite. When I asked to use the toilet, they refused to let me down, and instead had an inmate bring over a bucket for me to urinate in.

My wrists were so swollen that I could not move my hands. Guards Kang Yazhen and Wu Xuesong participated in the torture along with inmates Zhang Qingmei, Hu Xiaoli, Yang Shuhua, Liu Yan, and Cui Xue.

On July 27th, 2004, guards Kang Yazhen, Wu Xuesong, Cui Yan, and Li Jia ordered inmates Li Li, Hu Xiaoli, Zhang Qingmei, Song Xiaolei, Cui Xue, and Shi Chaobo to brutally torture the practitioners who refused to call out their names during roll call or carry their name tags. They grabbed my handcuffed arms from behind, pulled upward, and hung me from the top bed rail. Inmate Li Li stood on the top of the bunk bed and repeatedly stomped on my hands.

“Who Will Know If You Die from This?”

When Zhang Qingmei pushed my feet from the lower bed, I was dangling in mid-air, supported only by my arms. I told guard Li Jia, “You will kill me if you continue this.” As she left the room she said, “Who will know if you die from this?” The pain was so unbearable that I passed out within minutes.

When I came to, I realized that I was the only one in the room. I felt that I didn't have the strength to endure any more pain. This was worse than death. I stood up and ran at the nearest wall as fast as I could. Inmate Xu Shufang rushed in and held me. “I saw what they did to you,” she said. “No one can withstand that form of torture. You cannot die in here—your family is waiting for you. I was afraid that something like this would happen, so I waited quietly outside.”

Practitioners Sun Guizhi and Shi Shuyuan were also tortured that day. On the fourth day, the guards tortured practitioners Chen Yunxia, Miao Xiaolu, Liu Yaqin, Han Xingli, Zheng Hongli, He Chunhua, Ba Lijiang, and Wang Ye for holding a hunger strike for four days. Miao Xiaolu and Chen Yunxia were tortured the most brutally.

On my way to the restroom I saw Miao Xiaolu laying on the floor of her cell, and realized that she had fainted. I rushed in to her. She had earlier been force-fed and then hung up from the top bed rail. Both the floor and her trousers were wet with urine. Several inmates yanked me out of her cell. A doctor and nurse revived Miao Xiaolu with acupuncture. Chen Yunxia could not talk or walk for a long time afterwards.

Guards Kang Yazhen, Cui Yan, Wu Xuesong, and Lin Jia locked up me and fellow practitioners Liu Yaqin, Sun Guizhi, Zheng Hongli, Miao Xiaolu, Shi Shuyuan, Han Xingli, and Chen Yunxia in a special room without video monitoring. We were handcuffed behind our backs and hung from the top bed rail from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. After 10:00 p.m., we were handcuffed like that to the lower bed rail. Shi Shuyuan and I had excruciating pain in our arms and had to sit down. Practitioners Miao Xiaolu and Shi Shuyuan were sent to the prison's hospital ward. (Miao was later tortured to death.) The other five practitioners slept on the cold, brick floor while their arms were handcuffed from behind to the lower bed rail. We were tortured like this for two months.

When guard Lu Hua saw that my feet were swollen and full of pus, he suggested that I see the prison doctor. “It's only because you tortured me like this that I am in this condition!” I replied. “If I wrote down everything that you did to me, will you sign it?” She immediately went to guard Kang Yazhen and Cui Yan to report what I had said to her.

As a result, we were no longer hung from the top bed rail, but we were still handcuffed from behind to the lower bed rail. We were tortured like this every day for four months. Practitioner Liu Yaqin, who is in her fifties, had to position her arms behind her back in order to fall asleep at night, even though the handcuffs had already been removed. This was the result of being handcuffed from behind for so long.

I did not wear the required prison uniform one day in April 2008. Practitioner Lei Min also took off her uniform. Guard Ma Shiyi moved me to another room. A few minutes later, practitioner Ba Lijiang also took off her uniform. Guard Ma sent me to a tiny confinement room and handcuffed my hands and feet to a metal ring anchored to the floor, making it extremely difficult for me to move in the freezing cold room.

An inmate brought me a bowl of watery soup with a dozen or so grains of rice, and a plate with a few bits of cabbage and several large chunks of salt. On the third day, I told the inmate, “I don't want to eat this soup anymore—it's mostly water.” Two days later, I fainted from hunger. After the prison doctor, Shang Xiaomei, force-fed me, I vomited again and again, then fainted. When I came to, I was drenched in sweat. Twenty-three days later, I was released from this tiny room and went home.

When I think back on the six torturous years that I spent in the Heilongjiang Women's Prison, I know that the only “crime” I committed was believing in Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance!


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