(Clearwisdom.net) Guangdong Province's Sanshui Forced Labor Camp was established in 1955. It is the oldest and largest, and has the highest number of detainees among Guangdong Province forced labor camps. At the same time, it is also the darkest and the most dreadful among the large number of labor camps in this province. Sanshui Forced Labor Camp is directly affiliated with the Guangdong Provincial Labor Re-education Bureau.

Forced labor camps in China are not established according to the law, and strictly speaking, they are illegal. Nobody truly scrutinizes their operating procedures or their goings-on. No other place in the world can be compared to them because they function outside the law and are established without legal basis. Although labor camp management is supposed to be modeled on that of a prison, the forced labor camps have, in fact, for a long time become places of terror where the guards can wield absolute power over the inmates' lives and deaths. What the guards say and do takes precedence over the law and the guards do whatever they want. In a forced labor camp such as Shanshui, the guards' word is the law and those who are against their dictums will suffer. The guards have committed all kinds of crimes, but there are no supervisory or judiciary governmental organs to effectively investigate them and bring them to justice; the guards, therefore, become ever more relentless in their actions. Within the walls of the labor camp they have been adopting a highhanded, overbearing policy. With electric batons and other methods of torture they have perpetrated all kinds of suffering on the detainees.

Once a person is sent into a forced labor camp, the guards there will treat him/her as if they were extracting oil from a peanut, and they will wring as much as they can from the person. They do not care about anything else but the profits gained from their labor.

Everyone who has ever been detained in a forced labor camp experiences the true nature of the labor camp guards who, under the Party banner of "education, persuasion, and salvation," are actually committing such evil deeds as coercion, exploitation and torture. The dark horrors inside Guangdong Province's Sanshui Forced Labor Camp discussed below are only a tiny portion of what actually takes place there.

1. The detainees are forced to do heavy labor and are tortured with all kinds of cruel methods

The production quota given to the detainees is always the highest among all the labor camps in the province. The production quota in Sanshui is 450-500 yuan (1) per person month [each detainee must produce a monthly output value worth 450-500 yuan], while the cost of labor is kept at a very low level. Moreover, the guards there constantly come up with new ways to exploit the detainees. If a detainee finishes the monthly production quota, the next month the guards will increase the production quota or further reduce the labor costs until in the end, the detainee can no way finish the quota even if he or she works to death. A detainee who cannot finish the production quota will be beaten and kicked, shocked with electric batons, denied meals containing meat, they will forced to stand at the end of the line during meal time, forbidden to get off work early, prohibited from taking a shower, and listed as someone who needs to be strictly disciplined. They may have troubles everywhere and anytime. Another added punishment is to extend the labor camp terms. The extension could be from several days to one or two extra months. The inmate can even be sent to solitary confinement where they are subjected to torture from electric batons.

The detainees have to work very hard on a daily basis just to finish the basic production quotas. When the detainees have finished a lot of work, the guards would say they have performed well. So, whether or not a detainee can finish the heavy production quota has become a major factor in evaluating the detainee.

Before 2000, each day the guards would check the production status of the previous day. Those who had not finished the given quota would be inevitably beaten. After 2000, there has been a slight improvement in terms of beating the detainees, since the labor camp wants to compete for the title of "Civilized Labor Camp at the Ministerial-Level." The guards are not permitted to achieve the new production goals by means of their original, undisguised violence. The wooden clubs, therefore, have been replaced with electric batons; the guards' yelling and rage is replaced with their ordering the detainees to acknowledge their "mistakes" or write a letter of repentance; and the violent beating and kicking is replaced with the notification of forced labor term extension. However, frequent beating or even kicking the inmates, sometimes to death, still occurs.

The daily work schedule usually goes from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. If extra work needs to be done, the inmates have to keep working until midnight, 2:00 a.m., 3:00 a.m., or even until dawn of the next morning. In the past one or two years, because the released inmates have exposed the crimes taking place in the labor camp, the labor camp has no choice but to make some adjustment to its policy and demonstrate a modicum of so-called "caring." It implements some of the hypocritical "humane management" techniques, reduces the work time a little, lets the inmates go to work a little later, and allows them to work fewer extra evening shifts. These are what the labor camps calls "making huge progress."

2. The organization is overstaffed and there are many unnecessary, duplicate labor camp staff members

Before 2001, there were a total of nine divisions at the Sanshui Forced Labor Camp. Each division consisted of two teams. The several organizational sections in the camp were as follows: administration section, education section, production section, agriculture section, living and hygiene section and one hospital. Each division had one division party secretary, a division chief and a deputy division chief. Each team had one political instructor, one team leader, one deputy team leader, an administration cadre and an education cadre. The teams were further divided into several sub-teams, and each sub-team had two sub-team leaders.

During the first half of 2003, the camp established sub-camps. Under each sub-camp are divisions. Under each division are the sub-teams, while the "teams" level was eliminated. Ever since the establishment of the sub-camps, the number of the staff members has increased dramatically. Some guards who have nothing to do at work would find a second job outside the labor camp, engage in buying or selling stocks, liu-he lottery, or doing business, or try all kinds of devious ways to get money from the inmates.

3. The detainees are exploited at every administrative level

The guards in Sanshui Forced Labor Camp, especially those in the lower administrative levels and in the divisions, are parasites.

In the past, inmates in each division or team in the labor camp had the following labor camp job options: working for the civil administration committee, in the offices or in the kitchen. Inmates working in these positions had a relatively relaxed working environment, so these positions were the ideal places where the inmates wanted to go. There were, of course, prerequisites for an inmate to be able to get such a position, which, to a greater extent, depended on establishing a good relationship with the guards. Money was usually used to pave the road. This was the so-called inmate's "good performance."

The inmate usually needed to spend 2,000 to several thousand yuan to get an office position. The inmate was required to pay even more to work inside the kitchens. Even more money was required to become a leader of the civil administration committee. After these inmates paid their way into these jobs with money, they were still forced, while working in the office, to buy the cigarettes, food and drink for the guards. Furthermore, the inmates were not guaranteed to be able to always work in the office. If they violated any regulations (which was just an excuse) or offended any guard, they would still be forced to go to the heavy labor section.

The Sanshui Forced Labor Camp forbids the use of cash inside the labor camp. Nevertheless, it often happens that someone brings cash into the labor camp. Some inmates bribe the guards so they will allowed to see their family members when they come to visit. Particularly on June 26 of each year, that is, the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, some guards can pocket even more bribes.

In the past there were many ways to bribe the guards. Later, the family members of the inmates directly deposited money into the bank accounts of the guards, which is even more covert and safe.

The power of the cadres in the divisions is much weaker than that of the division chiefs; however, every cadre can be a checking point. The administration cadre can threaten the inmates in the area by how long the inmates' terms can be extended. The education cadre can demand money from the inmates, using such spurious criteria as, "whether the homework has been finished," "how the inmates perform ideologically," "how the labor camp regulations are followed," and other pretexts. The cadre in charge of daily living can make troubles for the inmates in the area such as military drills, buying goods, or using postal services, and other suppression. Overall, every cadre has his or her own set of capabilities and every cadre has the power to control the life or death of the inmates. One word from a cadre can allow an inmate to live safely or let the inmate suffer tremendously.

The leaders with the lowest rank are the sub-team leaders who are in charge of production. The sub-team leaders cannot be overlooked at all since they control the labor assignment for each inmate in the sub-team. An inmate who has bribed the production leaders will be assigned to do something easy or with a higher pay. There is no problem even if the inmate cannot finish the assignments. If the inmate has given the leaders more bribes, the leaders can further make some changes on the inmate's labor record. The sub-team leaders, therefore, are usually in those positions that the inmates have bribed most. Whenever the inmates are allowed to go to buy goods, the sub-team leaders' tables are given "gifts" of tea, cigarettes, drinks, and other things. These sub-team leaders have surprisingly large "stomachs;" they need a bribe of several thousand yuan in exchange for a term reduction of just several days in labor camp term. They have "fixed" (singled out and made note of) those inmates who work slow but have good financial circumstances. With the slightest threats of extending the labor camp terms or using torture, these inmates, amidst the suffering, have no choice but using money or other valuables to pay the leaders in order to reduce their suffering.

The sub-team leaders can also reduce, at will, the worth of the inmates' work, so even those inmates who work very fast can also find no way finish the work. Since the labor cost is low or because of the frequent change of the types of the product to be made, the overall worth of inmates' labor output is not high. The guards' words have to be followed unquestioned; otherwise the inmates will have more troubles.

4. Making a fortune from forced labor

The newcomers to the Sanshui Forced Labor Camp are required to pay "650 yuan" as a so-called "internal affairs fee," which is in reality payment for quilts and matting [bed covers and mattresses]. No one knows how many years those quilts and matting have been used; they are stale, dirty and smelly.

The snack stores and the higher quality merchandise departments at the labor camp are two places where the labor camp makes a big fortune. Sanshui Forced Labor Camp claims in its open statement column in the "Internal Affairs of the Labor Camp" that all merchandise inside the labor camp is about the same price as the local retail price. In reality, all merchandise in the snack stores is one and a half to three times more expensive than outside prices. As for the relatively good merchandise, such as good tea and good cigarettes, the store manager takes it for granted that they are meant to be bought as gifts for the labor camp police and prices them even higher. One such snack store in the labor camp makes several hundred thousand yuan a year, on average.

Of course, as more and more inside stories get exposed to the outside world, the police at the labor camp had to "improve" to a certain extent. The prices at the snack stores keep dropping. After a dramatic price adjustment in 2004, the prices in the second half of 2004 are not much higher than outside retail prices.

The Fine Cuisine Department, a fancy food store at the labor camp, also makes a big fortune. The employees in the Fine Cuisine Department are usually family members and relatives of the police. Their merchandise include pork, duck, fish, beer and fruit and they sell these items at exorbitant prices. They would sell something that only costs three to four yuan on the outside, for ten yuan. Because this department is exclusive inside the labor camp, it's not easy to get the same things from another place.

The detainees in almost all divisions are forced to spend money. That is, the detainees in the labor camp have money in their account. If one has less than 1,000 yuan in his/her account, he/she will be issued some coupon worth the same amount of money in his/her account and will be required to spend all the money in one month, because the coupons will expire after one month. The merchandise for sale is not available every day. Many detainees suffer huge financial loss with nowhere to complain.

5. In order to meet the criteria to be recognized as a "Civilized Forced Labor Camp at the Ministerial Level," Sanshui Forced Labor Camp carried out a "Deception Project"

Ever since 2000, the Sanshui Forced Labor Camp authorities have gone all out to win the designation for the "Civilized Forced Labor Camp at the Ministerial Level."

There are certain criteria Sanshui Forced Labor Camp has to meet to be named "Civilized Forced Labor Camp at the Ministerial Level." In the past several years, Sanshui Forced Labor Camp has been carrying out different projects to "meet" these criteria. For example, detainees in the labor camp are required to study, to take notes and do homework. The supervisors ordered the subordinate divisions to have some detainees "write homework, copy homework and exams." The detainees were forced to copy and write specific materials, day in and day out. Finally, they were told to write down their names and specify the dates on their homework. It was ridiculous that detainees in the year 2001 were required to write homework for detainees who were in the labor camp in 1998, in order to show that the labor camp has had such an "educational activity" for a long time. Also, the supervisors ordered the guards to write a staff diary and record for individual meetings. The guards then ordered the detainees to write and copy diaries for them, so that they had both diaries for the present time and the previous period. As for recording the individual meeting, the guards made up "education examples," put a detainee's name on the record at random and signed their own names in the end.

In order to meet the criteria to win the award, each division is required to have a meeting room, a psychological consulting room, a library and activity room. Sanshui Forced Labor Camp converted the ground floor in every division into offices and into the abovementioned rooms. The numbers of rooms for detainees to sleep in were thus further reduced. In some rooms, the detainees have to sleep on the floor or several sleep in the same bed. The newly purchased books, sports and activity equipment on the first floor, however, have nothing to do with the detainees.

On the surface, Sanshui Forced Labor Camp seems to have made quite some improvement. However, regarding the situation for Falun Gong practitioners, it is no better than before, and is probably even worse.

6. Deceiving supervisors and bullying detainees; the guards in Sanshui Forced Labor Camp have committed all kinds of crimes

All divisions at the Sanshui Forced Labor Camp often receive outside visitors, or inspections from supervising departments on hygiene conditions. The staff in the labor camp pays special attention to dealing with such inspections or visits. Whenever there is an inspection, all divisions will distribute paper towels, toothpaste and even napkins and order for detainees to organize their rooms. The guards would lie to inspectors or visitors, saying that all the sanitary materials are for detainees because the government is more concerned about their living conditions. These are sheer lies, because each piece of napkin can be used many times to deceive the inspectors. As soon as the inspectors or visitors step out of the division, the detainees are ordered to return the napkins and paper towels.

If any detainee reports in writing about the lawless behavior of the guards to the supervisory staff, the leader in charge will blame the guards, "How did you manage them? How were they able to do such a thing?" They questioned how the guards could allow a letter to get out to the upper levels in such a strictly controlled environment. The leaders typically give the detainee's letter back to the division staff and tell them to deal with it. It is easy to imagine how the staff in that division will punish the person who wrote the letter. Although all reporting mailboxes are almost new, the locks are rusty because they are rarely opened. Because the guards retaliate against those who report them, the detainees dare not speak out.

7. Using word games to deceive detainees and the public

Each sub-camp of the Sanshui Forced Labor Camp has a reception room. The propaganda column on the wall in this reception room sings high praise for the labor camp; for example, the labor camp is in good condition and the guards are very diligent; they treat detainees just like "parents caring for children, doctors treating patients, teachers educating students." The implication is that family members should rest assured that the detainees will be taken good care of; but in reality, everyone who has been detained there can barely even bring themselves to recall their experience in the camp!

The cafeteria in each division has a gigantic menu in a stainless steel frame, listing the weekly menu. Listed in the selection are a variety of meals, almost all that one can find in the outside world. However, this is pure deception. Even during the Spring Festival one cannot expect to have the meals listed in the menu. Year in and year out, the detainees have white squash for eight to nine months in a row, or have radish for several months until they can't swallow a single piece more of it.

Every division has a show "window" called the "Internal Affairs Open Column." The articles in the column praise the re-education-through-labor system. If the media come to inspect and report on the labor camp, all the entries are pre-arranged. Thus, all media reports on the labor camp provide false information, because the journalists don't really know the inside story. The visiting route is usually prearranged. Everything the journalists see inside the camp is, of course, "in excellent condition."

8. Staff in the labor camp are exceptionally good at deceitful propaganda

Each labor division has a "bulletin board." All those whose articles are accepted will have a couple of days deduction for their detention term, so the detainees submit articles to be published on the "bulletin board" because they wish to leave the labor camp sooner. In their articles they flatter the guards whom they hate very much. In order to leave this horrific place even one day sooner, they write these articles against their own will. However high the inmates "praise" the labor camp, the inverse is the true situation.

The newspaper, "Correction Field," sponsored by the Forced Labor Re-education Bureau in Guangdong Province, is a good quality newspaper. However, that only means that the sponsor and writers are very good at deceitful propaganda. All media of this kind and their propaganda are actually a disguise to cover up the crimes and violence happening inside the labor camp.

In May 2003, in order to resolve the crisis of the detainees being tortured and murdered in the labor camps, the Department of Justice in Guangdong Province issued "six prohibitions." These six prohibitions stipulate that no one is allowed to use any torture method to extort a confession; no one is allowed to beat detainees or order others to beat detainees; no one is allowed to punish detainees physically, the legal rights of detainees should be protected, etc. The offices in all divisions have the "Six Prohibitions" hanging on the wall. In spite of this, after the issuance of the prohibitions, the guards have not restrained themselves from violence; rather, they apply more violent torture and punishment on the detainees. The regulations and prohibitions are hanging on the office walls as decorations. A violent incident often takes place in the very office with these prohibitions hanging on the wall.

In the almost 50 years since the Sanshui Forced Labor Camp was established, countless detainees have been beaten to death, crippled or severely injured. How many times the guards have committed such crimes is an astonishing number. All kinds of crimes are covered up.

9. The Prosecution Department and labor camp act in collusion with each other

In order to establish themselves and deceive the public, the Sanshui Prosecution Department also assigned staff to work inside the labor camp. On the bulletin board of each division, they also posted an open column from the prosecution department, saying how the prosecutors inside the camp monitor the labor camp system, and requesting the handling of each case in a civilized manner and how to report to them. In fact, violence, injustice, bribery and abuse of the law happen almost every day; nobody has yet seen any prosecutor upholds justice for the inmates by punishing the vicious guards who violate the law.

Sometimes, when inmates were gathered for a meeting, staff from the prosecution department also showed up on the stage, telling the inmates the great importance and social impact of the forced labor system; how high the quality of the labor camp guards is and how the inmates should change themselves in order to meet the requirements of the labor camp.

A sub-camp of the labor camp held an inmates' meeting once. Section head Lu from the Sanshui Prosecutor's Office, who was stationed inside the Sanshui Forced Labor Camp, threatened the inmates during the meeting. He admonished them with such lines as, "You are people who committed sins, so working is your duty!" and "If you step out of the security line, it means you want to escape, which is a crime!"

The labor camps' prosecutors are merely the backers and supporters of the labor camp system. It is impossible for them to execute the law based on the law and on their conscience. Moreover, the prosecutors earn many benefits from the labor camp, so they just ignore the evil acts taking place there.

10. Sanshui acts as the leading enforcer within Guangdong Province's labor camp system

For the majority of the inmates, it is a horrible thing to receive the document that sentences them to forced labor. They would feel a little better if they were sent to any other labor camp in Guangdong Province, but once they know they have to go to Sanshui Forced Labor Camp, most of them feel weak in the legs or even faint.

Sanshui Forced Labor Camp is a large dark place with the largest acreage and a long history. It has the most experience with methods of punishing people. In the second half of 2001, it admitted 9,813 inmates at its peak time. Many other labor camps, especially city level labor camps, sent their employees to visit the Sanshui Forced Labor Camp to learn how to use the instruments and techniques of punishing and torturing people. Moreover, any issue that they cannot handle is passed to the Sanshui Forced Labor Camp. Sanshui has virtually become a leader in the brutal manipulation and enforcement techniques that are normally associated with organized crime.

11. New guards rapidly turn cruel

A small segment of guards in the Sanshui Forced Labor Camp have a conscience and a sense of righteousness, but their influence is very weak. Moreover, they cannot stop the internal mass administration orders and the vicious cycle of abuse.

Some newly assigned guards, particularly some with college degrees, were relatively gentle and kind at the beginning; several of them rarely cursed or beat people. They did not smoke either, but after a while they became bad under the influence of the old guards. The old officers taught the new officers why they should not be nice to the inmates, how to make the inmates feel afraid, and even taught them how to put the squeeze on inmates in order to obtain cash from them. Gradually, under the direction of old guards, the new officers became worse and worse, and drifted far away from their former idealism. After a few months, these guards looked like totally different people.

12. Extortion, use of electric batons and beating are serious infractions in the Inmate Admission and Release Divisions

The Admissions and Release Divisions at Sanshui Forced Labor Camp are two particularly difficult places for the inmates. The Admission Division is the place where inmates stay at their beginning of their sentences. Thus, the guards have tried hard to make this a horrendous atmosphere. For example, they confine the inmates to solitary confinement at will, in order to terrify them. The inmates are assigned a heavy load work to let them fully feel the difficulty of the labor.

Another thing of note is that all items for purchase are very expensive and the inmates are forced to buy them. In the past, the most expensive place at the labor camp was the Admission Division. For example, one box of instant noodle packages generally costs a little over 20 yuan on the outside; the Admissions Division sells it for 50 or 60 yuan. Articles for everyday use are also extremely expensive. The most expensive thing is the "midnight snack". Once the guards know a new inmate has money in his account, before work starts in the evening, the guard on duty will bring a bowl of chicken flavored soup to those who have good financial resources. He will order them to take a midnight snack, also informing them that the cost for each bowl is 80 yuan. The inmates have to eat it. Thus, one or two thousand yuan will vanish quickly in the Admissions Division.

The work load is also very heavy for the inmates in the Release Division; in particular, they often have to work overtime, past 12:00 a.m., until 2:00 a.m. or 3:00 a.m. in the morning on many occasions. They have to get up and go to work at the regular time the next day. The guards often check individual's productivity and shock people with electric batons; sometimes they check productivity and then shock people three times a day. Since the inmates who come to the Release Division will likely be released in 15 days, many inmates then use money in exchange for their service time. The only advantage of the Release Division over the other divisions is the easy access to the telephone. This is because the guards intentionally let the inmates communicate with their family members, so the guards can financially benefit from them.

The guards at these two divisions can earn four or five hundred yuan more each month than employees in other divisions; thus a lot of guards have tried hard to get assigned to these divisions.

13. Brutal torture of Falun Gong practitioners

Since the end of 1999, Sanshui Forced Labor Camp has been on the front line in the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. In the past five years they have tortured more than 600 practitioners, and have beaten at least one practitioner, Lai Zhijun, to death. They tortured Hong Haoyuan and Wang Shubin to the brink of death (both died shortly after they were sent back home). They have injured and disabled countless people. Those guards who supervise Falun Gong practitioners have become true torturers and scoundrels who suppress kind and innocent people. The persecution of Falun Gong practitioners has caused Sanshui to fully utilize its instruments for punishing people, developed over the past several decades. They have used violence on practitioners and the crimes committed by the staff at Sanshui have reached their peak.

14. Long history of abuse is rewarded

The history of the Sanshui Forced Labor Camp is a history of blood and tears. Yet, this living hell has received numerous awards, trophies and medals each year.

At present, the whole labor camp is busy preparing for the celebration of its fiftieth anniversary in 2005. Sanshui's vicious instruments have gradually been passed on to other labor camps. In terms of labor camp history, size, scale, numbers of guards and inmates, Shashui ranks top in the whole country. In order to expand its influence, Sanshui has spent a lot of financial resources and manpower on this fiftieth anniversary. It was reported that the government officials who will participate in next year's celebration include Undersecretary of the Ministry of Justice Fan Fangping, Head of the Department of Justice for Guangdong Province Chen Weixiong, Head of the Guangdong Forced Labor Camp Bureau Shi Honghui and Party Commissar Xiang Heqi, as well as others.

In order to let the world know more about this dark side of China, we must expose the gloom and brutality inside Chinese forced labor camps. Since Guangdong is at the forefront of China's gateway to the world, the Sanshui Forced Labor Camp in Guangdong Province is a place that needs more attention and scrutiny.

(1) Yuan is the unit of currency in China; 500 yuan is equal to the average monthly income of an urban worker in China.

September 15, 2004