(Clearwisdom.net) On July 2, 2001, seventy Falun Dafa practitioners, who were illegally imprisoned in Changlinzi Labor Camp, Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province, participated in a hunger strike. Their motivation was to request the unconditional release of all Falun Dafa practitioners and to protest their continued persecution, as well as to obtain justice for Falun Dafa and exonerate the Teacher.

The Falun Dafa practitioners were detained without cause, and some were even imprisoned beyond the terms of their detention. The practitioners communicated their concerns to the authorities many times in a variety of ways, including both letters and dialogue. They requested that the camp authorities cease the inhumane persecution of Falun Dafa practitioners and immediately release all practitioners who were illegally imprisoned beyond the terms of detention. Each appeal requested a return to just practices regarding Falun Dafa and a vindication of the Teacher. They also explained and clarified the truth of Falun Dafa from legal, ethical and moral viewpoints. They also explained Fa-rectification of the human world, in order to awaken those people who still have a conscience but were deceived and taken advantage of by the evil forces.

In spite of the compassionate appeals on behalf of Falun Dafa practitioners, the authorities, headed by Shi Changjing, the Deputy Director of the camp, continued to act without regard for the law, failing to give any serious and responsible reply to the many requests. Instead, they ignored, suppressed and threatened the practitioners. The Falun Dafa practitioners decided to go on a hunger strike to protest this unlawful treatment and persecution of innocent practitioners. A hunger strike, although a drastic measure, is one way to assert the citizen's personal beliefs and rights, particularly under the extreme conditions to which Falun Dafa practitioners were exposed.

The first hunger strike began on May 24, 2001, but lasted for only three days. Initially, the hunger strike did not gain much attention from the authorities in charge because they thought that it would last for only a few days. Thus, they ignored the concerns brought forward by the Falun Dafa practitioners. On the fourth day of the hunger strike, the prison authorities began brutal force-feedings. Some practitioners refused, but the prison authorities ordered criminal prisoners to restrain practitioners for the force-feedings. Many practitioners were injured through this brutal process and began bleeding from their noses due to the rubber tubes roughly inserted for force-feeding.

On day five of the hunger strike, the Department of Labor and Reeducation of Harbin City dispatched Division Director Cui to the camp to investigate the situation and explain government policies. Cui denied both the actions of the camp, and stated they would indefinitely extend the detention terms and continue the indefinite imprisonment of Falun Dafa practitioners who persisted in their belief. Cui offered some promises, and appeared to act in good faith. Accepting his promises, nearly fifty Falun Dafa practitioners resumed eating. On the next day, Deputy Directors Shi Changjing and Gong Zhiqiang, and Education Division head Li Weixing called together those Falun Dafa practitioners being illegally held beyond their detention terms, and ambiguously expressed their supposedly changed attitudes. Finally, they added that they would not release anyone unless they produced a written guarantee renouncing Falun Dafa. They claimed that this requirement was due to policy set by upper level authorities.

Because the promises from Cui were broken, many Falun Dafa practitioners resumed the hunger strike. As the number of practitioners participating in the hunger strike increased, Camp Director Yang Binying, Political Commissar Meng, and Camp Deputy Director Wang talked with Falun Dafa practitioners and promised the unconditional release of those practitioners who were imprisoned beyond their terms, provided they ended the hunger strike.

This group of Falun Dafa practitioners believed the authorities and ceased the hunger strike in order to give them time to resolve the problem. The Falun Dafa practitioners' action displayed their reasoning and soundness in clarifying the truth and resisting the evil forces, leaving no excuse for the prison authorities to say that Falun Dafa practitioners were not acting reasonably.

Four days later, the prison authorities failed to take action as they had promised. Therefore, those practitioners who had resumed eating as a measure of good faith, began the hunger strike again. During the hunger strike, over sixty Falun Dafa practitioners were each force-fed over ten times, and some practitioners were force-fed as many as forty times. Many practitioners suffered injuries to their larynx and esophagus because of the harsh tube insertion during force-feeding, which caused some practitioners to bleed. During the hunger strike, some practitioners experienced low blood pressure, and a slow or weak heartbeat. Some practitioners had symptoms of dehydration and were forced to have fluids intravenously administered. Shi Changjing threatened the hunger striking Falun Dafa practitioners by saying he would extend the length of their terms, and he even produced an illegal document, supposedly executed by Provincial Judicial Bureau, which outlined "Ways of Adding and Reducing Detention Terms." According to the document, five days would be added to the detention term for each day of a hunger strike. This is just one of the various means utilized to attempt to intimidate Falun Dafa practitioners. Regardless of the intimidation used, Falun Dafa practitioners never wavered from their firm faith and always maintained their efforts of Fa-rectification to eliminate evil forces.

Finally, the prison could not help but compromise, and they unconditionally released those Falun Dafa practitioners imprisoned beyond their terms. They also resumed normal communication with Falun Dafa practitioners and discontinued one of the severe physical punishments: keeping a person in a very small cell 24 hours a day. Also, the upper level authorities were petitioned to release all Falun Dafa practitioners who were being held without a charge.

Five Falun Dafa practitioners, illegally imprisoned beyond their terms, were released unconditionally by August 9, 2001. However, two practitioners are still illegally imprisoned beyond their terms in the camp, including Cheng Zhongxiang, who has been imprisoned for over nine months beyond his term and is still participating in hunger strikes. Also, there are eleven Falun Dafa practitioners still on a hunger strike to protest the persecution by vicious police.

Falun Dafa practitioners are imprisoned and tortured in labor camps simply for persisting in their personal belief of Truthfulness, Benevolence, and Forbearance. The imprisonment of these good citizens in labor camps is absolutely illegal, regardless of whether it is beyond the terms of their detention.

We strongly request kind and interested people of the world to petition officials to immediately stop the imprisonment and persecution of Falun Dafa practitioners. We hope and encourage all Falun Dafa practitioners to send forth righteous thoughts to resist the persecution by evil forces.