A Non-Practitioner's Eye-Witness Account of Hebei Province's Gaoyang Forced Labor Camp's Brutal Treatment of Falun Dafa Practitioners
In 2000, I was sentenced by the court to two years'of hard labor for settling an injustice personally. I was sent to the infamous Gaoyang Forced Labor Camp, Hebei Province. Although Gaoyang camp is known for its brutal treatment of prisoners, in the two years I was there, I witnessed some of the most brutal treatment ever given to prisoners.
The Gaoyang camp held over 3,000 prisoners. Prisoners who were considered unmanageable were sent to Gaoyang camp from other forced labor camps within Hebei Province. After they were sent to Gaoyang camp, they usually behaved.
They divided the prisoners into six major teams. The main activity of the camp was to provide labor services within the camp and to people outside of the camp. Most of the employees were temporary or part-time workers; few were fulltime. The rooms were small, congested, filthy, and without hot water. Meals consisted of plain buns and "vegetable" soup. It was rare when a few pieces of vegetable were found in the soup.
A normal day consists of twelve hours of intense labor. The team leader often said, "You are a human when we treat you like a human, and you are not when we don't treat you like one." Every time the wardens opened their mouths, nothing but abusive words came out. When they lifted their arms up, a good beating was forthcoming. Anybody who refused to obey instructions would be punished by long hours of standing or kneeling down under the summer's scorching sun or in the winter's biting wind. If the prisoner refused to give in, they would simply give the prisoner a good beating, or apply the electric batons to them until they did submit.
There was no place for the sick in the camp. When someone did fall ill, they were not treated with any more lenience. All prisoners had to work, even if they had to be carried to the work site. If a prisoner became too sick, they would simply stuff some drugs into the patient's mouth. A prisoner once suffered from dysentery and was left with only skin and bones. Another prisoner had kidney problems. His legs were so swollen that he could hardly walk, but he was not spared either.
This is how the government treats offenders. The camp is simply a living hell.
When dealing with the Falun Gong practitioners sent to the camp, the treatment was many times worse. Every practitioner was under surveillance individually. They were not allowed to make contact with other prisoners or talk among themselves. Everyone had to work, regardless of age. Many times we tried to help some elderly practitioners with their workload, but were reprimanded. Once, a Falun Gong practitioner was severely reprimanded for giving some noodles to a fellow practitioner who was sick and unable to swallow other food. "Serves him right!" the guard said.
The Falun Gong practitioners were very kind to us and often told us the principles of life. Regardless of the problems we had, they often helped us out unselfishly, so we were deeply grateful.
Whenever the practitioners protested against the unreasonable treatment by going on hunger strike, the wardens would lock them up one after another, and shock them with electric batons, leaving behind not a single piece of healthy skin on their bodies. Whenever a TV program ridiculing Falun Gong was played, the camp commander would organize everyone to watch. The program was then followed by a group discussion criticising Falun Gong. Under such intense pressure, it was not a surprise that some prisoners would say something against their conscience. However, most people knew that their fellow cellmates, the Falun Gong practitioners, were good people. When it was my turn to speak, I said, "I don't know about what's shown on the program. I only know that the Falun Gong practitioners here with us are good people. They do not kill other people." Because I said that, they made me stand for long hours as a punishment and also extended my prison term at the camp. But I didn't regret what I said. One other inmate spoke out too and was punished similarly.
The team leaders once forced the Falun Gong practitioners to sign a statement renouncing their practice. Those who refused to sign the statement were chained, with arms apart, to two rings on the ground for the whole day. Some others were forced to stay that way for over 20 days. Hitting and kicking the practitioners were common events. Some were forced to ingest urine and excrement. Another form of torture they implemented was to connect the hands and feet of the victim to the ends of the electrodes of an old-fashioned, hand-powered telephone system and then start it up. Even many tough guys would have difficulty taking this punishment. After three hours of such an ordeal, Liu, a Dafa practitioner from Zhangjiakou City, survived the torture and walked out, but his face was completely unrecognizable from the shock.
After seeing what had happened, we secretly talked among ourselves, "What are they doing, treating good people like that?" We often saw practitioners being taken away, one after another, by the team leader. When they returned, their whole bodies were severely wounded. I realized that no one would know if they were killed inside.
This account is what I saw during my two years' at the camp. In this account I offer a word of justice for the Falun Gong practitioners.