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Practitioners Held in the Handan City First Detention Center in Hebei Province Forced to Package Contaminated "Sterile Chopsticks"

March 21, 2004 |  

(Clearwidsom.net) In early November 2002, many Falun Dafa practitioners in Handan City were arrested and sent to Handan City's First Detention Center. We were forced to work extremely hard, and we have suffered both physically and mentally.

Our major task was to package pairs of sterile chopsticks into sealed bags for use in a restaurant. However, the packing production was based in a contaminated environment--the prison cells. These cells are small, dark and humid, with the eating and lavatory facilities contained in the same place. A large cell is about 200 square feet, but approximately 20 and sometimes 30 people are squeezed in. A small cell is 100 square feet, but a dozen people are confined in this tight space. With a dozen gunnysacks of chopsticks (with 50-60 large bundles of chopsticks in one gunnysack and about 100 pairs per bundle) crowded into the cell, people could hardly move. Due to the time constraint, people had to continue working without washing their hands, even after they went to the toilet or wiped their nose. There were so many types of chopsticks; some would were small vendors and some were for big luxury restaurants. However, all the chopsticks were labeled "sterile chopsticks."

The workload was one gunnysack per day for two people, which was about 500-600 pairs. We had to start early in the morning and worked until 6:00 or 7:00 p.m. in order to finish the task. Lunchtime was very short and the food was poor, consisting of one steamed bun with a few unwashed vegetables cooked in boiling water. After the whole day's work, one would feel sore, with an aching back. The older people would feel even worse.

On January 16, 2003, the police guards brought us returned chopsticks that needed to be repacked. Once we opened the gunnysack, a foul odor came out of it, which made it hard for us to breathe. Those chopsticks had been packed, but due to the dirty and humid environment, they had become mildewed before they were shipped. Peeling off the moldy packaging made the conditions in the cell worse, as there were no sanitary equipment or procedures. Many people were allergic to it, with symptoms of rash on their face and body that was too itchy not to scratch, but they could not stop working. Thus, there were people scratching their skin while packaging the chopsticks. In addition, wrapping up those moldy, foul smelling chopsticks for use in a restaurant or by a small vendor was really harming others.

After the 2003 Chinese New Year, Handan City's First Detention Center added a new production line, that of wrapping fake flowers, resulting in an increased workload. To make a profit, police guards disregarded our physical abilities. The workload became two gunnysacks per day per person instead of one gunnysack for two people. As a result, we were so overloaded and tired after work that we could not even think straight. As soon as we had finished the chopsticks assignment, we started packing the fake flowers. Packing the flowers was more difficult than packing chopsticks and involved more steps. We cannot explain how difficult it is to pack those flowers. Perhaps using time as an example might explain the difficulty: We started work at 6:00 a.m. daily and worked until 11:00 p.m. or 12:00 am. Mealtime was short and there was no break after the meal. Additionally, every one of us had to be on guard duty for two hours after midnight. As a result, we only had two to three hours of actual sleep.

The flowers were put together with toxic glue that gave off an irritating smell, permeating the jail cell. The room was extremely stuffy. One person felt respiratory problems coming on and could hardly breathe. The work was so intense that we could not even take a one-day break. This kind of work continued until SARS started to spread. Due to the burden of the work, many practitioners' fingers were deformed and they had a hard time just bending them. Many practitioners experienced significant weight loss.

What is mentioned above is only a part of the abuse and mistreatment conducted under this persecution at the Handan City's First Detention Center. It is hard to describe in words the suffering from the forced, long hours and intense labor. Actually, many practitioners, one group after another, have been more brutally persecuted here since 1999. Practitioner Chen Yuqing died from the abuse, torment and mistreatment.

Handan City's First Detention Center phone number: 011-86-310-4042017 (reception desk).

March 3, 2004