First Hand Experience of Cruel Brainwashing at the Beijing Women's Forced Labor Camp (Part 2)
(Clearwisdom.net) (Part 2)
6. Withholding and Using Personal Mail
The mail has been a friendly way to send messages relating life events, happiness, care, and hope since ancient times. In the past seven years of persecution, letters to and from each detained practitioner have been used by the authorities as a part of the mental torture and stand as evidence of modern people's moral decline.
Mail is private, and laws forbidding others from opening, withholding, or destroying personal mail are common worldwide. But inside the Chinese labor camps, guards can violate this law at will. They have become the first readers of all Falun Dafa practitioners' mail. If they think a particular letter will not "help" a practitioner's brainwashing or not "help" the collaborators who have already accepted brainwashing, they will withhold the letter and never tell the practitioner about it. Sometimes they black out certain sentences in a letter before giving it to the recipient. The only contents they allow practitioners to read are those they think can help the practitioners to accept the brainwashing, such as family members not able to bear the pressure under the persecution, asking practitioners to give up, an employer's complaints, misunderstandings of Falun Dafa, children missing their parents, elderly parents complaining about their children practicing, the family's living difficulties, how lonely family members are, a husband wants a divorce, their elderly parents are sick, etc. Guards always give them such letters, and they will use these kinds of letters to torture them.
First, they force practitioners read those letters in front of the whole ward, which consists of more than hundred prisoners. Then they make everyone discuss the contents and try to make the practitioner the target in the discussion. They arrange for collaborators ahead of time to scold them about how cold they are and how their family is so pitiful. The pleading from children missing their mothers is especially read in a very emotional way. Then they scold them saying, "Where is your compassion as a cultivator? Where is your tolerance if you are against the government?" Some collaborators cry and say how they regret that their family is broken and how painful it is, etc. The guards sit there, fanning the hatred. The practitioner who received the letter often sobs, and the collaborators use the letter as a critical point in brainwashing. After this torturous meeting is over, the guards force the practitioner to write a letter of understanding, read it to everyone, and then make them comment on their understanding. Many practitioners have given in after the mentally torturing letter reading sessions when physical tortures were also added.
The letters are usually the results of the guards instructing a practitioner's family or employer. The guards have clearly learned about the family and work situation of each practitioner by reading their mail as well as through other channels. They are also very familiar with each practitioner's weak spots (attachments), and then they plan attacks. They give different reasons to different practitioners to accept the brainwashing, such as to reduce their term, to not complicate their husband's career future, to not hinder their children's study, to keep their job, to keep their marriage, etc. If they didn't have all those sore points to touch on, it would not work. Therefore, the planned letters are aimed at practitioner's human attachments.
All letters of reply from the practitioners must go through the guards. They do not allow practitioners to seal their outgoing letters. If the ward leader thinks that a practitioner's letter does not conform, they would either black out the offending parts or force a rewrite. Practitioners are not allowed to write about how bad the conditions are in the camp, about cultivation, or about other related topics. Nevertheless, they commonly withhold the practitioner's letters both incoming and outgoing to prevent the crimes in the camp from being revealed to the outside world. Families of Falun Dafa practitioners cannot grasp what cruel, inhuman torture practitioners have been subjected to both mentally and physically.
All "focus" practitioners--those who have refused to accept the brainwashing--must ask ahead to write letters. Sometimes they are only allowed to write once every several months. The miserable situation of these "focus" practitioners is beyond imagination. There are monitors right over their heads, and each practitioner's every move and word are under close scrutiny. There are always three prisoners closely watching them 24 hours per day. Family mail should be a huge comfort to these practitioners, but on the contrary, it becomes a severe mental torture. The scolding from guards or collaborators is easy to endure, but blame and misunderstanding from family members are very hard to take. The guards even encourage family members to threaten to commit suicide to force practitioners to accept the brainwashing. The guards make a big deal out of it and torture practitioner's spirit to the extreme, especially those who have children and old parents. In the end, these letters are all collected, and practitioners are not allowed to keep them since they are used as evidence.
The first letter I received was from my daughter. The guards gave it to the collaborators after reading it. After all the collaborators had read it through, they passed to me and said, "Read it to all of us all."
I answered, "You all read it, so why do I have to read to you!" I put the letter away. They took it away. They commented on it, saying I was not compassionate and I neglected my children and my motherly duties, that my refusal to accept the brainwashing would interfere with their future, etc. In a very sarcastic and humorous way, they read aloud my daughter's words on how she misunderstood why I practiced.
Seeing their ugly expression, I said, "If I think that accepting the brainwashing is right, am I going to become a person like you? Even a dumb person can tell you that accepting brainwashing is definitely wrong!
"You do not have the right to read my mail or comment on the contents because they are my own personal matter. What you did is immoral."
They answered, "Who cares about morals? It is the camp's rule [to open personal mail], didn't you know? Accepting the brainwashing is a trend, and you must be "transformed" no matter if you want to or not, no matter if it's early or late. If you still refuse to be "transformed," your children will never accept you.
I answered, "I decide on my own matters, not you." I tore the letter up during dinnertime when they were not watching closely.
They asked for the letter after dinner, and I told them I had torn it up. They were so mad that they wildly jumped on top of me, beat me, and kicked me. One of them reported to the guards that I had torn up the letter.
The guard became very angry. I told them, "I have the right to do anything I choose to my own mail; whether or not I tear it up is my own choice!"
They said, "You have no rights or freedom! You must remember that you are in a forced labor camp, and you have not been "reformed" yet. You must remember who you are and position yourself accordingly!"
I said, "No matter who I am, I have to right to handle my own mail; the law gives me such rights, but not you!"
The guard was shocked, because she knew they were wrong. Then she said, "Look at you. Your child has almost abandoned you, but you still keep your faith. What for? I tell you, there will be no good end to your situation." I protested that the collaborators had beaten me. She laughed coldly and left.
My son and daughter went to the college together in September 2000 in other provinces. Three months later, I was arrested and taken to a brainwashing center and then this labor camp. In order to not interfere with their studies, my husband did not tell them what happened to me at first.
When they came home on their first vacation, they were eager to share stories of college life with us, but instead they saw a very cold home when they opened the door. The furnitures was all covered, and the dust was inches thick. The cruel fact that their mother was serving a forced labor sentence was a terrible calamity for them.
As their mother, I can understand how deeply they were hurt. I still felt that helping them during their developing and maturing to adulthood was my responsibility. I was so eager to communicate with them through letters and make up a bit for the emotional shock their young hearts were having to bear.
I submitted my letters to my son and daughter to the cell leaders. They did not find any contents that offended them, but they said I could not tell them I was in Beijing; I had to tell them that I was in the Changping District Women's Forced Labor Camp. Otherwise they refused to mail my letters.
I was only trying to protect their weak self-esteem. If one of their schoolmates or teachers saw that my letter was mailed from the labor camp, that would be a disaster. It was my choice whether or not to put the camp's return address on the letter, even though the other prisoners all did it.
Facing their inhuman behavior, I tried hard to control myself. I knew they were simply trying to torture me, make me angry, and attack me because they never cared about this with the others who had accepted brainwashing.
I took the letters back quietly. I decided I would rather give up mailing them than give in to their evil ways. I clearly knew that this meant I could never write to my children. My children's words of confusion and misunderstanding filled my mind all the time. I knew that they were worried about me, but I had to press all of that deep down inside. My channel of communication with my children was blocked just like that.
I saw others writing or calling their family every month or being visited, but as a "focus" prisoner I had no such right. My children's letters were all withheld. Not communicating with my children all these years has deeply hurt them, but they do not believe that their mother has become cold and unfeeling like the media propaganda tells them. They witnessed how I changed fundamentally after I started cultivation. They just could not understand how come their letter seemed to have sunk to the bottom of the ocean, and why did their mother become a prisoner? Their mother taught them to have a good work ethic, to be a patriot to our country, to be loyal to people and kind. Also, to have integrity and manners, to obtain wisdom, and to be trustworthy. Why would such a kind mother be dismissed from a good job and locked in a labor camp? They could never find a logical answer.
7. Using Family Relationships to Pressure Us to Accept the Brainwashing
During the process of trying to brainwash me, they used all sorts of means. One of them was utilizing my emotions for my family: my elderly father, my husband, and my two children. They were trying to mentally kill me.
My two kids came to visit me when they were sophomores. Seeing the huge metal gate and the tall cement walls, my son, even at 5'9," could not help but cry. They were even more shocked to see that their mother had become so thin, weak, and white haired in only one year. My daughter burst into tears! That shocking moment changed them. Pain, hate, and shock were all pressed deep down into their hearts.
That short visit was filled with my children's sorrow. I tried my best to tell them to be strong, to distinguish good from bad, that their mother had done nothing wrong, and that they should study hard. I also told them why I could not write to them and told them to not come any more.
I held back my tears, smiled at them, and firmly told them in loud voice, "Keep your heads high and your backs straight! Your mother is in a labor camp to pursue Truthfulness-Benevolence-Forbearance, which is not shameful!"
Seeing their departing figures as they kept turning back to look at me, I could not contain my tears.
What is a broken heart? At that moment, I learned what it meant to be "heartbroken!"
Walking out of the labor camp, my two children carried with them unbearable pain, unspeakable questions, and loss to school. Their father has an important job to do, and he had no time to care about what was on their minds. It caused knots in their hearts, but I cannot communicate with them through letters or phone calls. My children could not bear such huge mental pressure. My son thought of quitting school. He went to the other extreme and he rebelled, quit his job in the student association, played soccer violently, fought with schoolmates and teachers, violated school discipline restrictions, and cut class.
My daughter went to the other extreme. She wrote to me, one letter after another, although she knew I might not receive them even if she mailed them. She studied so hard that she earned a Bachelor's Degree with a double major and joined the evil CCP.
All of this happened but I had no idea. The guards and collaborators knew about it well. They not only deprived me of my right to receive my mail, but they also tried to hurt me with the facts revealed in the letters. One day guard Jiao (female, first name unknown) came to me and said, "Zhang Yijie, you are hurting your two children by staying in the labor camp. Your son has started crying outside the gate when he comes to visit you. Aren't you sad?" She left with a happy expression on her face because she thought she had hurt me deeply.
Another day, Jiao suddenly came again and told me, "Zhang Yijie, your son is being disciplined at his university. He almost got expelled. His father is in his wits end dealing with daily work and your son's affairs."
Using my children to wear me down me was their usual means for mental torture. They would never tell me exactly what happened but instead forced me worry and guess. If I accepted the brainwashing, I would be allowed to communicate with my family instantly. They just were trying to force me to give in. Seeing that their tactics were not working, they would say, "Zhang Yijie, do you cultivate compassion? You have abandoned your family and children! Your husband is so busy, yet he has to be both a mother and a father to your children. How hard it must be! You have a great family that people all envy (which meant my husband had a high positioned job and we had two children in college), so why don't you treasure it? Why are you so different from others? You are so cruel that you have harmed your family with your selfishness! If you keep on cultivating, you will ruin your children and your husband will divorce you!"
My husband is a poker chip that the evil used all the time. When Jiao tried to attack me, she would tell me about what she had heard about my husband. One day, after scolding me about my son, Jiao came again, "Zhang Yijie, I saw your husband in last night's news. He went overseas with Premier Zhu Rongji." I did not answer her. I knew her intention was not good. She continued, "Zhang Yijie, you'd better accept the brainwashing quickly, because someone has send women to your house. Your husband can get any kind of woman, so why must he wait for you? You will never get out of here unless you are 'transformed.' If you keep on this way, your family will be gone."
They had been using my husband to pressure me since July 20, 1999. They tried to attack me with my husband's career future. Now they were using other women.
I told guard Jiao, "There is this saying: 'The sky wants to rain, and the mother wants to re-marry, but these things are not determined by you or me.' If my husband truly wanted to divorce me, I wish him good luck!"
Jiao was suddenly lost. She said in a totally defeated tone, "You Falun Gong practitioners are inconceivable. Are you all stupid? You only know one way to the end? Zhang Yijie, you are counting money when others are selling you."
I did not pay attention to her nonsense because no one can sell me or buy me; no one can move me!
The collaborators tried to cooperate with the guards to force me to give in. They would cry to me, telling me how much they missed their children or how they felt regret about their husbands or children. Viewing their performance, I was a bit angry, "Stop it! Your tears can never move me! Before July 20, 1999, you all know that every Falun Dafa practitioner's family was very happy and harmonious! My Master told us to seek inwards amidst conflicts and cultivate virtue and become better people. His teachings have helped so many family to solve their problems and cure their sicknesses and made countless families able to live in a warm, serene atmosphere. Exactly who destroyed our families? Who ruined our children? We did not cause our families to be broken. Cultivating 'Truthfulness-Benevolence-Forbearance' has nothing wrong with it. What do you want me to 'transform' to?"
The guards saw that the collaborators could not convince me, so they quickly ordered them to leave. Otherwise I would have "turned the tables" and helped them to start cultivating again.
Family, husband, and children are half of the life of each woman, and for some it even is their whole life. If they were able to have something for themselves, it would be their career. The guards thought that I felt that I was mistreated by the Foreign Trade Ministry (my employer) until nothing was left. If my backyard was on fire, that would be the last straw. I knew their tactics, but I was very sad each time they attacked me like this.
I seemed to see the disaster coming, just as Jiao had described it. How was my son doing? I felt bad for the mental stress my children were having to endure. I thought about how I had brought them up amidst so many difficulties, but they were like tender tree branches: they could not withstand heavy blows. I even regreted that I had nurtured them too traditionally so that they could not face such evil reality in such a mundane society. I longed to tell them how to look at this cruel truth, how to face tribulations, and how to study hard, but I was deprived of a basic right. I didn't know exactly what had happened to my son, where my husband was, and if he truly wanted to divorce me.
All these thoughts pained my heart and consumed my body. I had reached the breaking point. I refused to let myself think about it. I thought about my faith and rationality. I forced myself to recite Hong Yin over and over again.
I recited endlessly, "One can die in the evening if one heard the Dao in the morning! One can die in the evening if one heard the Dao in the morning! One can die in the evening if one heard the Dao in the morning!" Tears filled my eyes, and this sentence filled my entire mind and body reducing the pain of my emotions.
A voice said to me, "If you can die for Dafa, then what hardship can you not withstand?! As a cultivator, you must be in the Fa, in the Fa in every moment. You cannot have hatred, because cultivators do not have hatred. If you are not in the Fa, the hatred will eat you up or you will be 'transformed' by their attacks. You might become insane due to the unbearable pain because a human heart cannot bear so much."
I lowered my head, letting the tears run down my cheeks. After a long while, I dried my tears and lifted my head to face the collaborators and the camera monitor near the ceiling.
8. Friends and Family Made to Suffer As Well
One day, someone shouted in the hallway, "Zhang Yijie come out!"
I walked out and followed the head of the cell to the visitors' building. I sat in a empty room and waited. It had been a long time since the guards had allowed anyone to visit me. I did not know who was coming. I rubbed my face to look more energetic and also to loosen up a bit.
The door opened, and my oldest brother stood in front of me. I stood up instantly. When our eyes met, my brother cried. Was it because of my skinny cheeks and white hair? Was it because I had changed so dramatically? It was only two seconds, then he gained control of himself as if he had never cried. But of course I saw all of it, clearly and vividly. As his younger sister, I could feel the tide of his emotions being held back by the force of his rationality, being locked inside for good. I sighed in my heart, "My brother is a real man!"
He never expressed his emotions, so it was unlike him when he walked towards me, held my shoulders and said, "Yijie, let's go home!" My heart felt a thousand things in his single sentence. I tried to hold back my tears.
I answered, "Do you want me go home at the cost of my integrity or life?!" I sealed the door tightly and prevented him confronting me in front of the authorities. If in the past, my answer would have ignited a verbal war, this time he was silent. I could tell that he was very sad and tried to control himself.
After July 20, 1999, I went to appeal on July 21st. My employer, the Foreign Trade Ministry of the CCP, was involved in the political movement and tried to force me to give up cultivating Falun Dafa, so that I could be "on the same page" as the CCP. My family also tried to convince me. My oldest brother was the most active of my three older brothers. My father, a history teacher, cooperated with him. Once, they suddenly locked me up in a room and tried many ways to force me to give in. My father used many historical stories about how people had been wrong. My oldest brother is a provincial civil minister. He is in charge of persecuting Falun Gong in that province. He knows clearly the CCP's plan to eradicate Falun Gong. They thought they could save me from disaster and stop me from ruining my reputation and losing profit or ruining my family.
Because I refused to give up, my family members contradicted each other and could not reach common ground. My father was so sad because he could not convince his beloved daughter even though he was a history teacher all his life. My oldest brother was about to jump out of his skin, but he had no other choice but to reason with me with patience.
At first I thought my oldest brother's attitude had influenced my family and caused me lots of stress. I thought he was a person without a sense of justice and that he was helping the evil. It was after I walked out of the forced labor camp that I learned he had also had to bear much mistreatment due to my cultivation. The evil extended its claws into my immediate family.
On January 3, 2001, I was openly abducted by the State Security Bureau agents in the yard of my workplace. They took me to a brainwashing session held by the State Ministry Union. It was located in a forced labor camp. Those four big men suffocated and almost killed me when they carried me into the vehicle. I went on a hunger strike to protest the illegal abduction and forced brainwashing. I absolutely refused to be "transformed" even after the 15-day session ended. My die-hard will shocked the upper levels. They planned to force me to remain in the facility until I accepted their brainwashing. My oldest brother and my younger sister came to visit me during my hunger strike, and my older sister and my daughter came to pick me up when the 15 days were over. The Chinese New Year was coming soon, so they let me go home.
I went to Changchun City in Jilin Province, my childhood home, to spend the holidays and also to try to avoid further brainwashing. Nevertheless the authorities chased me to Changchun City. On New Year's Eve, policemen and neighborhood administrators knocked on our door, demanded 4,000 yuan, and notified us that they were told to monitor me closely.
I had no money. Where could I borrow so much money on New Year's Eve, which is against the Chinese custom? I believed I did not violate any laws, but if I stayed in my parent's house, my family would be deeply hurt, and I could not return to Beijing to be further brainwashed. I had to leave home without saying good-bye to my father.
My disappearance angered the authorities. They put me on the national "Wanted" list. They blamed my older brothers for not cooperating with them, for releasing me, and for interfering in my case. They blamed my older brothers for four "crimes." On top of that, they, along with the Foreign Ministry Head, wrote to the Jilin Province CCP Committee, requesting that they discipline my oldest brother, the provincial civil bureau head, and my third older brother, the office chairman employed by the provincial justice bureau.
Jilin Province CCP Secretary Wang Yunkun commented on the letter: "Deal with it after the investigation." This "order" caused my two brothers huge mental pressure and severely hindered their daily life and work.
Official mistreatment of my brothers forced my departure. They authorities would not even allow me to spend seven days of a holiday peacefully with my family. They forced me to hide out on New Year's Eve and even implicated my two older brothers!
If they truly manage the country with integrity, like they claim ("Save people from flood or fire, give water to the thirsty") or even if they simply were reasonable, how could they abduct people in broad daylight? How could they "transform" people with violence? I was a government employee, yet I was treated so unfairly. It is beyond imagination how dark the local counties and cities are. They can abduct people just to change their thoughts! In order to change your beliefs, they will dismiss you from your position, fire you from your job, lower your salary, send you to a remote area, force you to go through brainwashing and sentence you to forced labor if you refused to accept the brainwashing, and complicate your families. Where is the justice?! Where is the law?!
After July 21, 1999, my oldest brother and family members one by one saw me being mistreated until I was forced to disappear. After I was arrested in Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province, my family witnessed the government mistreat me further. They could not accept all of that calmly. They have righteous thoughts and were forced to think over the painful facts. The right and wrong and the good and vicious were manifesting in their daily lives and influencing their conscience. They woke up from the painful persecution and distinguished right from wrong.
My oldest brother has been an honest official for over 20 years. Nevertheless, no one dared to ignore Secretary Wang Yunkun's order. It is fairly easy to be accused of a "crime" under the CCP's evil rulings.
Soon after, the Jilin Province high level officials gathered together to "study." My oldest brother was late due to work-related matters. He asked a colleague, "What are we studying today?"
People answered passively, "The three representations of Jiang."
My oldest brother was annoyed and said, "What is there to study?" and he left immediately.
Later, a disciplinary punishment in his case was announced inside the provincial CCP, which means that they eventually followed Wang Yunkun's order.
(To be continued.)
November 14, 2006