First Hand Experience of Cruel Brainwashing at the Beijing Women's Forced Labor Camp (Part 3)
(Clearwisdom.net) (Continued from part 2)
9. Belief cannot be discarded
The third time I was tortured by the "attack team," I stood for exactly 42 days and nights. They said: "This time she must give up."
The wind was chilly during those early winter nights. There was a small building called the visiting hall just southeast across from the dormitory. In the visiting hall, the upper levels are bedrooms and the first floor is the visiting room where detainees and their family members can meet. It can only be used at special times during the month, and it is unoccupied on normal days.
After practitioners were detained at the Beijing Women's Forced Labor Camp, there were a record number of atrocities little known to the public and so many secret crimes. The visiting hall has become a prison within a prison where practitioners are secretly persecuted.
From November 8 to December 20, 2001, I was detained in this small, gloomy, and terrifying building for exactly 42 days and nights. Nine evil persons launched a third "break resistance" campaign against me. I could not sleep during the day or night, and I was forced to stand there day and night. I was physically and mentally tortured for 42 consecutive days and nights.
(a) Threatened on a cold night
On November 8, claiming they were helping me, the guards allowed me to see someone. They took me to a room with an apartment on the first floor of the visiting hall. In this room many collaborators and criminals were busy pasting newspapers on the windows and doors close to the corridor. Inside the room they climbed up to a balcony and sealed the window that faced a playground with a bed cover. This was a deserted monitoring room in the labor camp; everything was removed except for a large metal shelf.
I was detained there and I knew that I was facing a new persecution.
This time they changed personnel, including two guards, two drug addict inmates and five collaborators. Nine people entered the building. Another cruel "transformation" procedure began. They said that this time I had to give up.
When it was completely dark, a cold wind blew in through the doors along the wall. All of the collaborators were there, but they did not turn the light on. Instead they opened the door and let the chilly wind in. The two team heads were not there; I looked down the corridor and did not see anyone. It's well known in the forced labor camp that whenever a practitioner is left anywhere, a team head must accompany him or her. As I looked down the dark, empty visiting hall, I saw many people had gathered, but the team head was not there. Therefore the guards must have arranged this well in advance, and they left on purpose. No matter what happened, they would be excused because they were not at the scene.
Someone shouted: "Zhang Yijie, take off your clothes." I did not move.
In the dark, several people rushed at me and forcibly removed my outerwear and sweaters, and I was left wearing only a tank top and underpants. I was forced to sit on the concrete floor across from the gate, and I became completely cold in a minute. The wind that evening blew directly on me and made me feel cold from the inside out. Sitting on the cold concrete floor, I felt so cold that I shivered, my mind became blank, and my thoughts stopped. I was very clear about two thoughts, which were: "I will never give up. Be really compassionate and tolerant."
Cold wind blew me over and I was immediately frozen.
I had not used the restroom for two days, and they tortured me by forbidding me from going to restroom until I had "transformed." One day was as long as a year, and I suffered greatly from this. Everyday I only ate or drank a little so that I could persevere and tolerate as much as possible. Sometimes my abdominal area was unbearably painful, but whenever a collaborator slandered Teacher and the Fa, I was extremely alert and thus my suffering was diluted and I was able to tolerate it again. In the evening when I asked to use the toilet, they still refused, saying I hadn't yet "transformed."
At around midnight, all was silent except for the chilly wind that whistled. An unknown person kicked me and said with a disguised tone: "Don't you feel cold? Do some warm ups. Are you still not willing to be 'transformed?' Are you going to resist forever? Let's warm up."
Then collaborator Zhang Yanchun came over and stood behind me and pulled my shoulders. Another two people stepped on my knees, one person on each side. Zhang Yanchun pulled my shoulders and pressed my upper body toward my legs. The other two persons firmly stepped on my knees and made sure my legs were straight. I was folded in half with so much force that all the stretch fell on to my backbone. Zhang slandered the Fa while she tortured me. At that time I did not have any strength to oppose her. Zhang, who was on my back, pulled me up and quickly, pressed me down against my legs, then pulled me up again. She repeated this again and my backbone was as painful as if it were being ripped out. I struggled to bend my knees so that I could release the pressure from my back, but the two collaborators that were stepping on my knees cooperated completely. They pressed down with all their strength, so I could do nothing about it. They pressed me more and more rapidly--I was just like a piece of dough on a breadboard as they pushed and pressed me. Zhang Yanchun was so tired that she could barely catch her breath, but she did not stop until she had used up all her strength. I could not move for a long time afterward.
This torture dislocated my vertebra and injured my knees. Being beaten and tortured for over one year, the injuries to my back and legs became worse. The second after being released from the forced labor camp, I went to a hospital to have my back and legs x-rayed.
After they stopped torturing me, they asked me again: "Do you want to be 'transformed?' Do you want to write a statement about this?"
I told them as usual: "I will not write anything for you."
When I refused, they switched to another form of torture. They twisted my arms behind my back and then pulled them suddenly until they could not pull anymore. They exerted all their strength to pull me to the left side then to the right side, and they cruelly searched for my sorest spot. If I screamed at some point or angle, they would push or pull me at that sore spot again and again. That piecing pain made me sweat and suffer so much that I almost wanted to die.
The wind and screams, along with my sobbing, resounded in the horrible small building that cold evening. Enduring this brutal and inhuman torture, I cried for the repeated brutality of the collaborators and their willingness to help a tyrant to do evil. Where did they learn these torture methods that caused such agony but left no trace? Recalling this today, I still shudderi.
After being tortured for one night, I was exhausted. My tormentors were exhausted as well and took turns sleeping in the apartment. Two collaborators who were woken up to carry on the shift blinked their red and swollen eyes and sat in front of me. They incessantly kicked my shins to release their fretting due to insufficient sleep. My skinny shins had already been kicked until they were black and swollen, and those previous injuries had not yet healed, but they kicked me there again and again, and the pain was like bones were being broken. Facing these mindless and inhuman tormentors, I did not have a single tear left.
The sun did not come out, but dawn had broken. After being tortured for one night, with only a single layer of clothing on my body I had become cold and stiff. My numb body did not feel any pain. The two guards still did not show up. Afterwards I learned that they had already set up accommodations in the room several feet away and they were closely monitoring and directing what went on. They knew about everything that had happened to me.
After the collaborators kicked me they said: "Do you still not want to write the statement? You could endure for today but not for tomorrow. We will see if you can endure three, five, six months or one year! Kneel down! Kneel down!"
I was forced to the ground by several persons. Before this I requested to use the bathroom, but they still did not allow it. After they pressed me to the ground, they again pressed my head and shoulders down until my head reached the floor between my knees. My injured backbone was affected and ached deeply. I was forced to huddle up and my abdominal area was pressed. I could not control my urination and did not have any sensation for several days. My pants were wet immediately and urine dripped on the ground. The collaborator shouted and jumped aside. I looked at the puddle of urine under my feet and listened to their laughter and abuse. I did not feel anything, and my mind was still; I did not have any feeling of humiliation.
Then some people brought the mops to clean it up, and a person said: "Let her do the cleaning!"
They viciously pushed me down into the puddle and pushed me around. My whole body, my face, and my hair were soaked. My clothes that had soaked up the urine stuck to my skin, and I felt so cold.
I was totally wet and I stood there, the urine dripping from my hair and clothes to the ground. My mind was a blank.
(b) Pick them up and eat them all!
There is a special kind of maltreatment--among many methods of psychological abuse--that goes on inside the forced labor camp. That is, if you were steadfast and refused to be "transformed," the guards were going to make you experience the strong difference between this situation and the contrasting situation. They put you on purpose into this contrasting situation, let you see, hear, and feel the discrimination, humiliation, abuse, and the isolation from other detainees. As they said, "If you don't give up, you'll lose everything you have. We'll fix you and let you suffer alive."
Will your mind still be calm when you see that all the detainees around you are having a meal of steamed buns made of white flour and eating on dishes while you're having only a little piece of steamed cornbread and pickle? Will you have anger inside your heart when you see that other detainees are showing off and dumping their leftover of their food into the trash cans on purpose or depriving you of your meals in the front of your eyes while you don't have enough food to eat? Will you still be indifferent and care little about your physiological desires when you see in front of your eyes that other detainees are chewing and enjoying the charcoaled chicken and sausages on purpose brought from the convenient store inside the labor camp while you're not allowed to buy anything from there? Will your heart still be peaceful when you are forced to stay up all night long under the surveillance of the collaborators and the guards while others are sleeping soundly? Will you flinch when you are forced to sit on the icy ground surrounded by ice and snow all day long and to suffer from hunger and cold alone outside while other detainees are enjoying their lives inside the warm and cozy room? Will you care little about the situation when you are not allowed to clean yourself up and have to wear dirty clothes and have to be unkempt while other detainees are allowed to take a shower and wash their clothes? Will your heart still be determined when you see that other detainees are allowed visits and to write letters to their family members or receive phones calls from them, while you are deprived of these rights for long periods of time? Will you have no hatred and no regret inside your heart when your detention term is prolonged because you don't give up your belief in Falun Dafa and refuse to be "transformed," while the detention terms of other detainees are reduced because they agree to give up their beliefs? Will all your excessive thoughts be eliminated and will you be able to take life and death outside of your consideration when you are suffering from insults, beatings and vicious tortures for a very long time only because you are holding onto your belief in Falun Dafa and refuse to be "transformed?"
That was the life in front of my eyes. It was putting my heart to the test every moment. Let go of human attachments, go beyond the barriers, and firmly continue to live on!
However, there were moments when I was fragile and not strong enough during the cruel process of being "transformed." I was furious, wretched, and couldn't help crying. Yet, being taken care of by our benevolent Master and enlightened to the Fa, I come through those situations and grew up and have become more steadfast and mature.
During those 42 days and nights in intensive "lockup," I almost broke down one time. In front of my face was the high wall of the labor camp. I was forced to sit on the icy ground and I was almost frozen like a rock for several days near this horrific high building used for meetings between detainees and their families. Under the lead of a fully-equipped team headed by a person with the last name of Nie, two tall, heavy detainees who were assigned to monitor Falun Gong practitioners were scrutinizing me. From head to toe, they had wrapped themselves tightly with warm heavy cotton-padded jackets and pants, and they had even covered their necks with big towels. They stood in front of the rising sun at the entrance of the building, while I was ordered to sit in a place with a draft under the high wall. The freezing wind wailed and swept across my whole body, from my head to toes. Since I had been transferred to several squads and also confined in an isolated cell, my personal belongings, including my clothes and bedding, had all been lost. At that time, the one and only "suit" that I was wearing was a ragged sweater, a pair of flimsy woolen pants, and a pair of unlined shoes with plastic soles. The freezing wind was all-pervasive and penetrated my thin "suit." I was shivering with cold and almost frozen to death. There was a patch of grass under my feet. The blades of grass bent back and forth with the breeze, and my heart became empty in the cold wind. There was only one diamond-like, unshakable, steadfast thought left in my mind, which vibrated sympathetically and converged with the pulse of my life in perfect harmony.
Guards Wang, Du, and Nie had enjoyed their meals in turns. However, they didn't allow me to have my own meal. Actually, my "meal" was only several pieces of little thumb-shaped and smashed steamed cornbread. The collaborator who was delivering meals to me was bored with having white-floured bread as her meal and she was eating my little steamed cornbread while she was walking toward me. She was embarrassed to give me the cornbread that she had eaten, so she willfully broke the little steamed cornbread off with her fingers and thumb and gave them to me. From then on, all my meals turned into smashed steamed cornbread passed on by the collaborators. No pickles, no water for me. I hadn't drunk any water that morning and after I finished eating my steamed cornbread, I asked for some water. They said I'd have to give up my belief first, but I refused their offer.
When I went to restroom several days earlier, the people who monitored me were asleep so I went to the outer room, turned on the faucet, and washed my face. As I washed, I drank some water. As long as I had a chance I drank water like this. However, the person who closely monitored me noticed: "Report, Zhang Yijie drinks water secretly." The female guard angrily stared at me. I calmly looked at her and suppressed her evil words. From that day on, they stopped the water for me everyday.
For almost one day, I was taken with chills, hunger, and thirst. Only my clear and strong willpower enabled me to control and tolerate the hunger and cold. The sky began to darken and it was past 4 p.m. The sun went down and the wind kicked up. They still did not give me any lunch. One day had almost passed, and I started to feel that I could not sustain this. I began to shiver and my teeth chattered. From the beginning of my confinement, I had stood up for days and nights until this day, and my feet already had become unbelievably swollen. They were heavy, as if they were made of lead. Although the chill offset the tiredness, I became extremely tired.
Suddenly I had an idea that I wanted to protest their persecution with my death. I looked at the wall nearby and threw myself toward it. Even if I was injured I would not have to suffer anymore. It did not matter if I died. If I survived then I would have the chance to disclose their criminal acts. I stopped thinking and suddenly rushed toward the wall. After I had taken the first step, I could not take a second: big fat Zhang Cuifeng stood in front of me like a wall.
As I stood still I became clear in my mind. I immediately understood that I should not behave like that. If I protested in this manner, they would say that I had committed suicide and they would blame Falun Dafa for it. I calmed down and thought: "If you, Zhang Yijie, had the courage to smash into the wall, don't you have the courage to face this tribulation and walk on firmly?" The intention to disclose their criminal acts was a weak excuse. Thinking of this, I regretted my weakness. I surprisingly looked at my shoes, sized 40, which were given to me by another detainee. After being confined for a long period of time, I still had to stand up day and night. My feet had already become like elephant feet and barely fit in the shoes. They would not fall off. After I lifted my shoes I understood that Teacher was preventing me from doing this. After that I completely gave up this idea.
The sky was becoming dark, and they brought the food for dinner. As usual the food was broken cornbread in thumb sized portions. Only several pieces covered the bottom of the dish. The team head on duty--Nie--had left at some point and another team head named Du was there. She repeatedly reproved me for refusing to be "transformed." She became angrier and fiercer as she talked. She knocked over the dish I held in my hand and said: "God is not hungry or thirsty, and neither does God have the food of a human."
I picked up my dish, silently looking at the broken cornbread scattered on the grass and I wavered in the cold wind. I seemingly heard a voice say: "Pick them up, eat them, and stand resolutely."
I reached out my frozen hand and picked up a piece of steamed cornbread from the ground and put it into my mouth along with salty and silent tears. The sky was completely dark.
The second day I heard from two people who were assigned to monitor practitioners. One of them said: "Why was the team leader switched to Du?" Another one said: "Yesterday team leader Nie was frozen in shock and she stayed at the hospital."
(c) Evil is everywhere and draws a circle as a prison
In the meeting building they set up a secret prison to try to brainwash me for the third time. I could feel the evil's madness and it was intensified. They escalated the tortures on my physical body and also tried every means to break me down spiritually. To quote their words: "To transform Zhang Yijie, we must break through 'the spiritual control on her (by Falun Gong)...We must crash open this layer of the shell enveloping her...Spiritually we must further our campaign against her." After their evil tactics such as "strike spirit possession" and "interrogation at midnight" failed, and also after torturing me for 18 consecutive days and nights failed, they changed personnel again and again and had several new groups come in. They did not allow practitioners like Liu Hong, Tang Jianshu, or Zheng Jie to be near me at all. They replaced three people during their third attack on me and got in three new collaborators entrusted to them by the police. Among them, Zhang Yanchun and Shen Shiling were sent regularly to the "Law System Training Center" to brainwash and transform others. These two people were very evil, and Zhang Yanchun was a ruthless goon.
On this particular day, five collaborators came, each holding a yellow booklet with articles slandering Dafa and our Master. They handed one to me and said: "Hold onto it. We will start with you."
I didn't accept the booklet and said: "I will not read. It is impossible for you to hear a single slanderous word from my mouth." They hinted to each other and five of them surrounded me and walked towards me till they were opposite me face to face. They opened the booklet and read the first chapter in screaming voices. The noise was so loud that it pierced my ears.
This yellow booklet was an evil book in which there were lots of articles that systematically attacked Dafa and Master. It was used specifically in labor camps and prisons for the purpose of brainwashing Falun Dafa practitioners. Five of them shouted out the virulent slanders from the book at me. Their virulence and the feeling of being insulted and blasphemed angered me beyond description. My ears were booming and my blood seemed to rush upwards, crashing in my head. I was very angry that they could do anything at will and without restraint. But I knew anger would not help. Instead, I might fall into their trap if I continued to feel this way.
I quickly calmed myself down, tempered my heart, and stopped the anger. I kept my righteous thoughts and concentrated on getting rid of the anger wholeheartedly. Then one voice came into my mind: "Just by staying unaffected you will be able to handle all situations."("Teaching the Fa at the Conference in the Midwest-U.S") "Listen but hear not--To be mentally undisturbed."(Hong Yin") I understood immediately that Master was helping me. If my heart was not moved, then nobody could disturb me.
I repeated in my heart: "Just by staying unaffected you will be able to handle all situations. Just by having your heart unaffected you will be able to handle all situations."
The slanderous screaming continued. I was put in the middle and I staged a war against them.
"Listen but hear not--To be mentally undisturbed." And "Just by having your heart unaffected you will be able to handle all situations. Just by having your heart unaffected you will be able to handle all situations." I read them aloud in my heart and repeated them. This was a spiritual fight and a test of my determination and concentration. If I had any shell, then my shell was my main consciousness and my soul. It was molded by Dafa, and nobody could ever damage it. Gradually my heart and soul became calm.
As soon as I became calm, those collaborators couldn't sustain themselves. It seemed something went wrong with their voices. From time to time they had to ease their throats with their hands. Their voices became smaller and smaller. Before long one of them withdrew. Then another withdrew. Only three of them continued reading. Then the two who had withdrawn replaced the others. They took turns reading. Then only two of them read. Then only one person was left reading towards me. I was standing there calmly and confidently. I ignored them. My anger turned into sympathy for them. Their cursing words would be the immense karma they committed against themselves. Why did they become so senseless like demons? They repeated the same tricks a few more times. In the end they were unable to continue and withdrew hastily.
When I was put into confinement this time, I knew that I would face more tribulations. But I kept the principle firm in my mind: "Hearing the Tao in the morning, one can die in the evening." I had fully prepared myself and I would not regret it. Under the torture day by day and night by night, I didn't break down mentally though my physical body was failing. My faith in Dafa never wavered when facing the evil and I didn't step back, even when my physical body could hardly bear anything and at the point that no thoughts came into my mind. But the thought of Dafa was always clear in my mind and I protected this thought like I protected my life.
After several days of reading the evil book failed, female guards Wang, Yu, and Du drew a small circle on the ground just big enough for my feet and made me stand inside it. The didn't allowed me to cross the line. Then they tried to "transform" me and force me to write the Four Guarantee Statements (similar to the Three Statements). I refused. Wang Yu said to me: "If you don't write them I will write it for you." She used chalk to write slanderous words against Dafa and our Master around the circle.
She said: "So how many days can you continue standing like a stick? I see you are very tired. If you move even a bit, you will step onto your Mater's name on the ground. I don't know how long you can bear it."
I stood straight within the circle and felt as if I were sitting on pins and needles. I was in pain and exhausted. I couldn't move a bit. To avoid moving my feet I couldn't fall asleep. At the same time they put up paper slips that slandered Dafa and our Master on the doors and walls.
Standing like this I was almost faint. Though I had been forced to stand day and night before, I could at least move my feet a bit and there was not such mental pressure. I was forced to stand within that circle for many days and my legs became swollen and I felt very tired.
Suddenly I realized that I was being dumb. I shouldn't let the evil run rampant like this and let them slander our Master. I began to clear away the words on the ground with my hands. The guards wrote them again and I cleared them away again. I kept clearing away the words. Wang Yu was getting mad. She wrote everywhere on the ground. I couldn't hold back my anger anymore. I suddenly realized that was how they had come to encircle me. After I cleared the words away, I jumped out of the circle.
I warned them that they had committed an unpardonable sin by slandering Dafa and our Master and that they would be punished by heaven. I kept telling them to do good. When I asked to go to the toilet, female guards Wang and Du agreed on the condition that I wrote the Four Statements and chanted slogans slandering Dafa and our Master. If I didn't do that, they refused to let me go to the toilet for another two hours, three hours, five hours, one day, one night, or even several days.
This torture of not allowing me to go to the toilet was inhuman and damaged my body and mental health. It was indescribably painful, but this torture is widely used in the forced labor camps. If a person strongly holds his or her belief belief, this torture method will be used.
One day I heard somebody crying inside the room. It was a 60-year-old woman who repeatedly reported the need to go to the toilet but she was refused. In the end she just couldn't help crying.
In the big group, practitioners were allowed to go to the toilet for a fixed amount of time, even if you had to do more than just uriniate. Other inmates, including drug offenders, personal criminals and traitors, were exempt from this rule. Among the practitioners, 90 percent had dry stools, which were very painful. This was the situation for the big group of practitioners. Their situation was considered better compared to those practitioners who were detained separately as the "key persons" and were not allowed to go to the toilet at all. They used this method to torture practitioners.
The guards ordered and demanded of the criminal inmates: "You should know why you are here! We want you to deal with them [practitioners] and make them suffer as long as they are still alive and torture them but not to death."
When they were still not successful after they had resorted to all those means, one day Deputy Brigade Leader Huai wrote some words on a slip of paper and put it on the wall. She forced me to read them aloud. The words on the slip were roughly like this: "I have already ruined myself by refusing to be 'transformed.' If I continue this way, I will ruin my children and my family and my husband won't excuse me or wait for me either. Eventually I will be all on my own."
Huai forced me to read the contents of the slip aloud everyday. If I didn't read it, she would get very angry. One day I said to her: "Whether I recite or not, it is all meaningless." She asked: " Why"
I said: "I am not even afraid of death, Why would I be afraid of being alone?"
(d) Water and tears
Since I was put into a room in the "Meeting Building," I had been standing day and night and never had a minute of sleep. Besides the big metal m frame that was used for a TV, there was nothing in the room, no bed, no chairs. They laid down the rule that I was only to stand but not against the wall and was not allowed to close my eyes or sleep. Criminal inmates monitored me. They said they would not stop until I was "transformed."
I stood from morning till night, from night till morning. As soon as my eyelashes touched, inmate Shen Shiling hit me hard on my head with a rod made of newspaper. Every time I sleepily blinked my eyes, she hit me. In order to prevent me from closing my eyes and having a bit of rest, they stood there for hours staring at my eyes, brandishing the rod and hitting my head repeatedly.
She stood closely before me. She was short and had to turn her head up to look at me. After a short while she became tired and repeatedly shook her neck. With the rod in her hand, she shouted: "Zhang Yijie, if you want to sleep, you have to be 'transformed.' If you don't want to be 'transformed,' you have to bear it and suffer. I will hold up your eyelids if you keep closing your eyes."
(e) No need to feel sorry for the loss of the good looking in the human world.
On the day I stood up totally wet and trembling, I said I needed to change clothes. But guard Wang Yu did not allow me to. I walked close to the heater and tried to get warm. Wang pushed me away: "If you cannot endure it, you just write the three statements and you are 'transformed.' If you will not write them, you'll have to endure the torture."
I really wanted to lean against something. I suddenly noticed a spot. I dodged Wang and quickly entered the gap between the wall and a big metal shelf. When I stood there, I could not fall down. I wanted to close my eyes, even for just one minute! I was too tired, sleepy, and cold. I was covered with wet, cold clothing. I was hungry and thirsty. With all those tortures combined, I could not clearly discern my feelings.
The narrow gap was very small and only large enough for myself. Wang could not reach me. I leaned my head against the wall. Many days had passed, and I was finally able to close my eyes. They kept watching me and did not allow me to lean against the wall and close my eyes. They wanted to wear down my energy continuously and to the maximum extent.
When they saw me hiding in the gap, Wang became very angry and tried to pull me out. When she found she could not get me out, she beat me with a stick, but I still did not come out. Finally, she thought of an evil means. She kept pouring cold water over me. After a while, my head and body were totally soaked. Cold water dripped down from my hair.
I was astonished at her callousness and deeply regretted her youth. I clarified the truth to her and told her about goodness and evilness, virtue and karma. I hoped to inspire her good side, her clear side, which would give her the chance to be saved. However, all of what I did seemed to be in vain. She kept finding other ways to torture me.
Inmate Zhang Cuifen was quite overweight. She weighed more than 200 pounds. She was very strong. At the instigation of the guards, she pushed me down on the ground and sat on me. She intentionally sat on my abdomen and rocked back and forth, saying she felt very comfortable. I felt my abdomen close to my back. I could not breathe. I was very thin. I could not stand it after a while. My inner organs seemed to be flattened. Soon after, I choked and could not speak. I instinctively pushed her with my weak hands. Unexpectedly I pushed her right off me. I was able to take a breath only after quite a while.
That night, all of my teeth suddenly became loose. Every tooth seemed to be about to fall out. When my upper teeth touched the lower one, all of them were very loose. Guard Wang had studied medicine before. I could not help asking her why my teeth were loose. But she sneered and did not say anything.
I knew a bit about medicine. I thought it was probably because I was seriously injured both mentally and physically. I knew I had been pushed to my physiological limit. It was the Fa that supported me mentally. It was Teacher who used his gong to evolve me and his Fashen to endure for me.
I felt wet, cold, sleepy, and tired. I was hungry and thirsty. My legs were swollen and my feet were heavy as stones. I hoped to lean against the heater to warm my wet body. However, Wang Yu pushed me away every time. She spoke bluntly: "If you are not 'transformed,' you cannot go to sleep. I'll just torture you until you yield."
Originally, the guards expected to make me yield by using all kinds of vicious means in the small black cell that was isolated outside. When they felt they could not reach their aim as before and they felt sleepy and tired, their evil tactics went from bad to worse.
When I walked away from the heater and leaned against wall, Wang Yu pushed me away. I did not have the energy to deal with her. I stood there and closed my eyes. Suddenly, something was stuffed into my mouth. I spit it out quickly. It was Wang Yu who had stuffed a pill into my mouth. The pill was broken by my front teeth. I cleaned my mouth with my clothing while I spit it out. It was not a secret that brainwashing sessions in labor camps "transform" people by using drugs that destroy the nervous system. I was alert and tried to avoid her. However, when I was absentminded a bit, she stuffed another pill into my mouth. I also spit it out and cleaned my mouth again.
Whenever I closed my eyes, she stuffed pills into my mouth. The pills were yellow and odorless. Even in the end, I did not know what the pills were. She kept stuffing pills into my mouth, and I kept spitting them out and wiping my mouth. During the night, I did not know how many pills she stuffed into my mouth. Although I spit most of them, I still ate some.
I told her: "Do you know that nothing you feed me will have an effect on me? No effect at all!"
Several days later, all my loose teeth gradually became firm again. This thing also faded in my memory.
Five months later, they sent me to the intensive training team. The mirror in the bathroom was the first time I had seen my face in a long time and it was totally changed. I was shocked and could not believe my eyes. My hair had turned white, and my face looked dark and emaciated. There was a big gap between my front teeth, and my teeth were disfigured.
I immediately refused to accept my appearance at that time. It was not surprising that my older brother sobbed and my child cried when they saw me. Someone called me "Granny." I became an old woman under the torture of the intensive team, but I was just in my 40s. At that time, I was very sad and I was struck down by the change.
For a long time I had worked in a department involving foreign affairs. Because of professional requirements, I paid much attention to my appearance, which had become a habit. It was very difficult to contemplate my disfigured face. Before then, I had noticed some white hair when some of it was pulled out, so I had been prepared in my mind to see some. However, I did not expect my hair to have turned totally white and that I would look so haggard and elderly. So what caused the big gap between my teeth?
I recalled the 43 days and nights in the interview building. The night the cold water was poured over me, all of my teeth suddenly became loose and guard Wang Yu had stuffed pills into my mouth. Apparently, the big gap was due to the torture. When my teeth were loose, the pills were stuffed into my mouth, which exerted force upon my teeth.
I looked at myself in the mirror. Sorrow and hatred seemed to surround me. After I went back to my room, I could not get myself out of such an emotion. It was hard for me to accept the condition of my face. I felt my heart was hurt again.
After a long, long time, my senses finally overturned my emotions. A voice arose in my mind: "You should stand on the viewpoint of the Fa at all times. If you stand on a human viewpoint, you will initially be immersed in hatred, and then yield because you will not be able to endure the tortures. If you stand on a human viewpoint, even if you do not yield, you will collapse mentally because you cannot endure all the sufferings."
Ah! Dafa gave me a diamond-like body, I do not need to worry about my white hair and feel sorry for the loss of a good-looking face. If I do not fear death, why should I care the appearance of a face and the human skin?
When I thought about this, my tears streamed down my cheeks. Benevolence and tolerance drove hatred and resentment away again.
That night, it was unusually quiet. The guard suddenly left after midnight and even the two inmates disappeared. Later, someone moved two bed boards and quilts into the room. Chen Haifeng came in and chatted with me. When it was about dawn, the guard and the inmates still did not show up. Chen said to me: "All persons in charge are not here. You can sleep for a while."
I was surprised: "Allow me to sleep?"
Chen said: "Yes, and I am not watching you."
I didn't remember how many days they had forced me to stand day and night for 24 hours. In order to prevent me from closing my eyes, they had used all means and so much effort. What was happening now? They were all gone. Was there anything happening between them? Were they just having a meeting to discuss how to break me down? Or were they planning a new conspiracy? I looked at Chen, and she looked somehow mysterious because she would quietly appear beside me unexpectedly and never tried to "transform" me, and she said nothing when I talked to her about the truths in an anti-transformation manner.
It was silent in the cell and the hallway. A warden was supposed to be on site if two practitioners were together according to the rules. How come there were only Chen and myself on the whole floor? This was abnormal, which made me uneasy. I recalled the first cold night when I was locked in a separate cell where a bunch of betrayers tortured me with the instructions from the wardens in the next room.
I remained standing, alarmed. Time passed by minute by minute, and the night seemed to be endless. Lying down was a thing of a long long time ago to me. I switched from one swollen leg to the other. I had been strictly forbidden to even sit down for a second, not to mention to lie down. I could not trust them on such a huge change.
All right, what could you do to me? With Chen's urging, I lay down on the wooden board with my clothes on. I stared at the pale ceiling, not feeling tired or sleepy at all.
Chen seemed to fall asleep after a while. I sat up and looked at her, wondering if she was really sleeping. How did she dare not watch me, but sleep instead?! I listened closely to the other room and the hallway and worried that someone would break in and do something to me. I turned and saw the TV rack standing against the wall. The rack was as large as a bookshelf for placing a 9-inch monitor, about 0.35 meters wide and 0.35 meters space between the shelfs. The lowest level was even narrower, but I managed to slide myself into the space. Although it felt as cold as the cement floor, I felt a little safer in there because it would be difficult for others to drag me out, and I would at least be able to see others if they wanted to do something to me without warning. Still, I listened closely to the outside. When it was dawn, Chen got up and was surprised not to find me on the wooden board.
The door of the cell suddenly opened and two betrayers with heavy bodies came in. They dragged the wooden boards out and stayed there. They seemed to be ready to stay there and watch for a long time. Then warden Du stepped in with a pair of shinning handcuffs and said to me: "You don't want to be 'transformed,' you'll see..."
I said to her: "It is against the law that you handcuff me against my will. You're breaking the law on purpose. In what name can you handcuff me?!"
Du said: "Nothing more will be done to you if you accept being 'transformed,' otherwise we will treat you this way."
Having seen nothing in the cell, she went out to grab a chair and pushed me onto the chair. She handcuffed my hands at the back of the chair, then left.
My body and my arms were fixed to the chair. After a while, my body became stiff, and I couldn't move my wrists, arms, or body because the handcuffs would be tighter if I moved.
This is something I learned from my experience in a detention center before. In April 2000, I went to the Central Government office and the Appeal Office of the State Council, where I was arrested and sent to a detention center. It was the first time where I learned that the handcuffs would get tighter if you tried to move and that your hands would be disabled if they were cuffed tightly for a certain period of time. Handcuffing is a cruel torture as it does not only brings physical pain but is also mental torment.
Due to that appeal, I was handcuffed like a criminal. The shock in my heart was beyond description. Handcuffs are always connected with crime. How can one imagine a practitioner who practices Truthfulness, Benevolence and Tolerance being handcuffed and sent to prison? When I wore the handcuffs and had to walk through the courtyard, and pass by workers digging a water channel, I saw that they stared at me with surprise. At that time, we wore our own clothes. My appearance and clothing made them notice the contrast of innocence and criminality in those metallic handcuffs. I watched them and walked by quietly. Their astonished eyes hurt and humiliated me. I had never felt like that before.
A couple of hours passed. I was so tired. I could not move and change my position. I lost consciousness due to fatigue and pain. While I was drowsy, some one pushed me and said: "It is time to eat." I had been hungry, thirsty, and cold for a long time. I moved, but I was stuck because my hands were handcuffed behind my back. I opened my eyes and saw pieces of bun in the bowl. There were many pieces, almost enough for two meals. However, they did not open the handcuffs for me. They threatened me again, saying I had to be "transformed." I did not have the energy to speak. I felt my body was falling down and the bowl was further and further away from me. I faintly heard a voice: "Dump the food! Dump the food!" I said in my heart: "Don't dump it! Don't dump it!" And then I fainted and did not know anything.
At dawn, they opened the handcuffs. My hands were black and swollen like buns. My body was numb and stiff. I seemingly heard a sound. When I opened my eyes, I was shocked by what I saw: a big color TV was placed in front of me. Captain Jiao, the guard in charge, and the inmates were busy connecting the VCD and searching the VHS. On the TV, a young man was singing a song "Back Home," which had a clear and lively melody. The song was pleasant and made people miss their family members. I had never heard that song.
I touched the deep handcuff marks on my hands. I felt so surprised because Captain Jiao's "disintegration work" was really "thorough." From 9 a.m. in the morning to 2 a.m., I had been handcuffed for about 15 hours. I had not drunk a drop of water. Then she changed tactics on me. She set up a "comfortable" atmosphere and tried to deceive me by the soft tactics. It was really unimaginable that one person had two totally different expressions and changed so fast.
They played a romantic foreign move, "The Sound of Music," which fully showed the effect they wanted. However, I spoiled all their scheming. I am a Falun Dafa practitioner. Master's teaching is always in my mind.
"Present, but the heart elsewhere -
Perfectly reconciled with the world.
Looking, but caring not to see -
Free of delusion and doubt.
Listening, but caring not to hear -
A mind so hard to disturb.
Eating, but caring not to taste -
The palate's attachments severed."
("Abiding in the Dao" in Hong Yin)
Whether at the North Pole or the South Pole, whether they played songs and dances, no matter how much they punched and kicked me, not matter what they said, I was knocked down to hell from heaven (i.e. I used to work at a department in the Central Government), none of these things disturbed my heart or moved my will at all.
They used all means and schemed from one extreme to another. Captain Jiao was discouraged. Forty-two days and nights' torture stopped temporarily.
On the morning of the 43th day, I was taken out of that cell and I walked out of that dark and terrible interview building.
10. The concentration camp is run like the military
Run like the military services, Beijing Women's Forced Labor Camp applies intensive control, which results in a very nervous lifestyle, as well as a tense and even suffocating atmosphere. There is a very short time limit to almost everything, from getting up in the morning, the morning wash, eating, doing laundry, showering, and using the toilet. Being tardy will cause you a lot of inconvenience. You may even be reproached or punished for being tardy. One is constantly rushed doing the slave labor despite at least 14 hours of labor per day.
During my first month in the camp, I could at least go out of the building for military drills although I was always flanked by two guards. Most of the time, I was placed at the end of the formation. Hence, I had a full view of everyone in the formation. I was surprised to find a lot of doddering old women with gray hair in the formation. They must have been at least 60 or 70 years old. How could they possibly be interested in political activities? Likely they could not even answer you if you asked them what politics meant.
I have heard that the Chinese government allocates the forced labor camp a budget of 150 yuan per month for each inmate, but I know from my experience that the actual monthly food expenses for any Falun Gong practitioner is always far less than 150 yuan. In addition, the wages for practitioners' slave labor go entirely into the pocket of the camp's personnel. The food in the camp could not be worse. The most despicable part is that the camp conceals the truth with a facade. There is a blackboard with a fabricated food menu in the canteen open for inspectors or visitors. Everyone calls it a "virtual menu" because the food on the menu doesn't really exist. For each arranged tour to the camp, the menu included a lot of fried dishes. At first, the drug addict inmates in the camp were very excited about the menu and could not stop talking about it among themselves, but no dish on the menu ever appeared. After a few disappointing experiences, everyone realized it was just a facade for the reporters and inspection groups. If the inspection groups were allowed to drop in at any time, they would see that practitioners are actually served the most pitiful food imaginable.
There are about 130 people in each team in the camp, 90 percent of whom are practitioners. There must be at least 1,000 practitioners in the camp, but they are never given the task of cooking. Only drug addicts, prostitutes, pimps, pornography vendors, and thieves can work in the kitchen. [Chinese buns are supposed to be fluffy and slightly sweet], but practitioners are constantly served with sticky buns, sour buns, salty buns, or rock-hard buns. Boiled vegetables taste like swill and constantly contain worms, bugs, flies, weed stems, and a residue of dirt on the bottom. Later the menu improved slightly and streaky pork or boiled pork skin was added to the menu twice a week but in meager rations. In fact, many practitioners often don't get any pork at all. Occasionally fried eggs were added to the menu but meagerly rationed as well.
There was a food poisoning in the spring of 2001. Those who tasted the meat knew it was spoiled, but the camp insisted it was kidney beans that were spoiled. Fortunately, not many people got to taste the pork, so only a small number of people had to be rushed to the hospital. This is because pork is usually offered only to those practitioners that have renounced Falun Gong.
As for those practitioners who refuse to renounce Falun Gong, what they are given can hardly be called food. Most of the time we were given one ear of corn or a cheap cereal bun with only a few leaves of preserved vegetables for each meal, sometimes even without any vegetable leaves. Practitioners are given such meager food rations until they renounce Falun Gong. A simple calculation will show that such poor fare costs hardly anything.
What about the budget for medical expenses for practitioners? Where does the money go? Those with a headache or a fever might be given a pill, but those seriously ill are never given medical treatment. A lot of prison inmates suffer from hepatitis, but they never get any medical treatment. They have no choice but to endure the pain. The camp forbids their families from sending in medicine. They don't allow bail for medical treatment either.
After 42 days of isolation, I was sent back to the Third Team, but the control and monitoring for me was escalated. They carefully selected a group of people to monitor me at all times. All of my activities were under tight security control. Before I stepped out of the dormitory, went to the bathroom, or went to do the dishes, they would clear out the corridor, bathroom or the kitchen first. They would shout down the corridor, "Close all doors! No one comes out!"
After all the doors were shut, a guard opened my room and that was when I was let out, accompanied by two inmates. The suddenly abandoned corridor was absolutely silent and still. It felt like a militarized zone in the state of emergency. This is how much the camp fears us "determined practitioners," which in Chinese (zhong dian ren) literally means "people to be focused on."
The camp staff forbade me from meeting other practitioners and forbade other practitioners from meeting me. The camp staff had a meeting with collaborators and inmates. They said, "First, you must prevent determined practitioners from meeting each other. Second, you must prevent determined practitioners from meeting 'reformed' practitioners because they can communicate with their eyes." They decided that my sheer presence was a threat to their work because other practitioners would become determined and their conscience awakened.
The intensive training team applied even tighter control over determined practitioners. Instead of zhong dian ren, they referred to determined practitioners as "thorns." [In Chinese, "a thorn in the eye" means "the most hated person."] Each determined practitioner was watched by a group of inmates specially assigned to watch her around the clock. Each determined practitioner was given a different time schedule to get up, do the morning wash, and go to the toilet to prevent determined practitioners from running into each other. One day I ran into another determined practitioner in the corridor. In the intensive training team, this encounter was considered a "mishap" and the inmates involved were scolded and punished. The inmates watching us two determined practitioners started to quarrel right away in the corridor, blaming each other for this encounter. I did not know the other determined practitioner, but we were connected to each other's mind. We hurried to take this opportunity to talk to each other. We nodded at and encouraged each other. The cruel isolation caused the determined practitioners to suffer from extreme loneliness for long months. Even when the determined practitioners were imprisoned in the same barracks for six to 12 months, they never got to meet each other or knew who else was imprisoned in the same barracks.
It was even worse if you were imprisoned in a small barracks. The small barracks in this camp was a row of about ten isolation rooms concealed from the outside. Each room was practically a cage about two meters wide. The bed was about half a meter in height. It was only half the width of a single bed and very short. Next to the short bed was a sink about two palms wide. Next to it was a squat toilet. In the winter, the room felt like a refrigerator. In the summer, it felt like a steamer. Heaven knows how many Falun Gong practitioners have been incarcerated and tortured in these cages. No one will ever see or hear any violence that goes on inside these cages.
After the "Rollover Incident" when a group of practitioners declared their words and deeds to be null and void, I knew I was not alone. Those practitioners with righteous thoughts and faith were concerned about me at all times and tried to send their caring in every possible way. They made every possible attempt to approach me. Any hint or eye contact gave me a feeling of warmth and caring for I knew the Fa and Teacher resided in their hearts.
During the morning wash, I would occasionally discover a new pair of shorts or a bag of candy in my wash basin in the bathroom. Occasionally they would secretly put a few pieces of cookies on my pillow. Occasionally when I ran into fellow practitioners in the corridor, it the monitoring was not as tight as usual, they would quickly put a piece of bun in my pocket and, on rare occasions, a piece of paper with one of Teacher's new articles on it! These gestures of caring made me burst into tears. They brought ecstasy and immense encouragement to me while I was trapped in the devil's den. They were a great comfort to my soul! Through their kind gestures, I was convinced that they were still cultivating in Falun Gong. This is more important than anything else!
The Intensive Training Team often went into emergency mode to conduct "room searches." You never knew when you would suddenly hear a loud command from the corridor--"Fall out!" When you heard the command, you had to stop everything you were doing and go out in the corridor at once. They would gather everyone together and put everyone under watch. Next they would call the determined practitioners and put them in empty rooms or in isolation rooms in the small barracks. All the guards were fully armored. They monitored the practitioners while waiting for action. About seven male and female guards quickly entered each room and started ransacking it. They looked for Teacher's articles, diaries, letters, and other forms of writing.
About seven male and female guards wearing gloves ransacked one room after another. They searched inside the quilts; in clothes, books, and miscellaneous items; under the washbasins under the bed; in socks and everywhere they thought suspicious or questionable. They left nothing unturned. After ransacking all the rooms, the guards searched every practitioner, including their shoes. Practitioners returned to their rooms only if they had passed the search.
Now the rooms looked like they had been robbed. Clothes, personal items, and quilts were scattered on the bed and all over the floor. There were dark shoe prints on the quilts and even undergarments. After each room search, I felt my dignity and rights as a human being had been stolen and scattered all over the place like those quilts and undergarments. Any practitioner that was found to possess any banned item would be punished by being sent for military drills or given a term extension.
The Third Team searched rooms more frequently and in more terrifying ways than the Intensive Training Team. Besides random searches, the Third Team often reorganized practitioners in the rooms. The purpose of switching roommates and the room search is the same--to prevent "rollover" or to prevent practitioners from deciding to declare their words and deeds to be null and void. [By constantly changing practitioners' roommates, we would not have enough time to get to know other practitioners well.] Another purpose was to raise the ambient level of fear and tension. The entire staff of guards in full armor monitored everyone in the corridor and stood by for action while Ms. Jiao announced the reorganization of each room. She would read out loud the carefully designed plan with everyone's newly assigned room and her leader. As she announced each person's newly assigned room, everyone retrieved her luggage and reported to her new room. This was intended to break and dissolve all the existing groups and it was done about every two weeks.
Once in the forced labor camp, Falun Gong practitioner groups began to disintegrate. Some were truly "reformed." Some pretended to be "reformed." Some became traitors. Others remained determined in practicing Falun Gong. Everyone chose her own path. Outside the forced labor camp, it was difficult to tell a genuine practitioner from a phony one. At first, practitioners with righteous thoughts were often punished for no valid reason after they had said only a few words. It wasn't until later that they realized it was the collaborators sleeping next to them that had reported them to the guards. In this environment, everyone had to protect herself. Finally, when the practitioners were able to tell genuine practitioners from phony ones, the collaborators would report the progress to the guards. With one simple order from Jiao to reorganize all the rooms, the bonds between genuine practitioners were broken again. Other than the frequent reorganizations, they often switched roommates on a smaller scale to prevent practitioners from forming any bonds. Many practitioners knew each other before they came in, so they were able to communicate with each other in just a few words or with their eyes. However, the collaborators noticed everything. One report from a collaborator would cause Jiao to move them into two separate rooms. One particular practitioner was ordered to move to a different room several times a month. They would do anything to prevent practitioners from exchanging their understandings of the Fa, sharing cultivation experiences ,or awakening to their conscience.
11. When I am on the Fa, no one can alter my faith
During those days of incarceration, I had a lot of time to contemplate certain questions. For example, "reforming" or making a Falun Gong practitioner to renounce her faith is, in itself, very destructive to a practitioner's spirituality. They try to wipe out or eliminate a thought or a spiritual belief from your head by force. They try to force your spiritual belief out of your head and replace it with thoughts and notions by force. How are these people any different from bandits? When a human being loses the right to think freely and the freedom of spiritual belief, she or he has lost everything.
The so-called "education," "saving you from being lost," "reform by personal examples of moral upbringing" in the forced labor camp are hoaxes and deceits. The truth is that the forced labor camp is about cruelty and torture, which each and every practitioner in the camp has personally experienced and suffered from and witnessed.
The Chinese government allocated a large budget to the forced labor camps so that they could build new facilities to imprison more practitioners. They bought high-tech video and audio surveillance equipment. Even the large courtyard was monitored by video surveillance cameras. The cameras were set up at the corners of the buildings. Together, these surveillance cameras have a full view of the entire courtyard.
The bonus for "reforming" a practitioner is about 1,000 yuan. The increasing number of practitioners in the camp becomes a large source of income for the staff of the camp. The function of the forced labor camp has changed. About 80 to 90 percent of the people imprisoned in the forced labor camps are law-abiding citizens that follow the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance. The criminals in China's forced labor camps are being replaced with these law-abiding citizens. This is the biggest disgrace to China's justice system.
The forced labor camp refers those determined practitioners who refuse the forced brainwashing and refuse to be "reformed" as zhong dian ren or "people to focus on." Bao jia, which literally means "siege," "flank" or "sandwich," refers to those inmates that besiege practitioners at all times, using violence as necessary to do their job. Bao jia was specially created to monitor the determined practitioners. The meaning of the term bao jia is self-explanatory in terms of its function and the violence that comes with it.
The first battle a practitioner faced upon entering the camp was the "Battle of the Wheel," which means brainwashing a practitioner by turns in order to wear her down. Only the most depraved and "reformed" collaborators would be sent to brainwash practitioners in the "Battle of the Wheel." The camp usually employed two groups of collaborators. One group was known as "Spring Breeze and Drizzle," which uses different types of distorted theories to deceive practitioners and lure them off the righteous path. The other group was known as the "Strict Control Group," which repeatedly tried to instill all the lies and slanders about Falun Gong in your head. They also tried to intimidate and threaten practitioners with the Chinese government's orders and laws while closely monitoring and controlling your actions. They also physically abused practitioners under the guards' orders. The "Strict Control Group" actually lived with me in the same room. The two groups shared the same purpose although they used different approaches. They are equally sinister in nature.
The "Battle of the Wheel" usually went on for days and nights. The practitioners to be "reformed" were made to sit still from dawn until dawn the next day. Those practitioners who still refused to be "reformed" were made to sit still until dawn on the third day. If you still were not "reformed," then you would be made to sit until you were. Or they would make you stand still for days or keep you imprisoned until you were "reformed."
Facing these depraved individuals that were exhausting every means to damage the Fa, I had to be clearheaded on the Fa and I had to have an iron will to survive each day and prevail over all kinds of evil deeds each day. I knew I must be vigilant at all times and build a strong bastion of thoughts to eliminate the evil elements. When they threw an idea at me, I had to remember the Fa to eradicate that idea and I had to completely eradicate it. If I was slightly muddle-headed on the Fa in any way or doubted the Fa in the smallest way, a group of demons would jump at me and tell me, "It's true! It's true! It's true!" In this devil's den a lie, even without being repeated, is truth if you don't fight it. The evil force striving to disintegrate and damage the Fa and to destroy my energy field was suffocating. There is only one way I could describe what it was like: I felt as though I were a lamb thrown to a group of hungry tigers. I had nothing but my righteous faith and righteous thoughts to rely on. Without righteous faith and righteous thoughts, a practitioner would surely be devoured by the evil. There was no gun in this deadly battle, but the battles of souls was much more intense and horrifying. At first, my entire body and soul were fighting at all times in this battle between the righteous and the evil. It was only when they cursed me and used violence on me that my brain could finally relax and take a break.
After a few months, I felt I could endure all kinds of torture and did not hold grudges against anyone, but my blood boiled with rage as soon as I heard anyone slander Teacher and the Fa. It would take me a long time to calm down each time I finished defending Teacher and the Fa. I knew if I refused to be "reformed," I would face more brutal abuses. Yet I didn't want to let go of any opportunity to save them. Teacher wants these collaborators to give up evil and return to virtue. I have more or less the responsibility to fulfill Teacher's wish.
In fact, each day became increasingly difficult for me. I was deprived of not only my right to move about in the camp, but also the freedom to think and my dignity as a human being. During the forced brainwashing, they tired to instill their enlightenments along evil paths, as well as their slanders and lies about Falun Gong. They also forced me to read two books of hate propaganda against Falun Gong and books written by members of the evil Chinese Communist Party. I was not allowed to read anything else. In addition, they forced me to write my thoughts about these readings every day. If I refused to submit one each day, I would be deprived of the precious two to three hours of sleep that night. I was not even allowed to read newspapers. I was not allowed to write in a diary or anything else except to write my thought about those books. I was deprived of the monthly visiting time with my family, writing letters to my family, calling my family, or grocery shopping in the camp's store. They confiscated letters and packages from my family, forbade me from attending the drills, and even forbade me from doing my laundry, showering, washing my face, or brushing my teeth. I wasn't even allowed to use the toilet, or they would purposely delay my trips to the toilet. They told me I would not enjoy these basic rights unless I "reformed." For each meal, I was given one small corn bun or a cheap cereal bun and a few leaves of preserved vegetables because they thought meager food rations would help them "reform" determined practitioners.
In any event, I was treated to the worst abuses in every way. I was isolated from the rest of the imprisoned practitioners. Every day I was locked in a small room. I lost all environmental and personal freedom, including my thoughts and actions. Except a few assigned collaborators and female drug addict inmates working as bao jia, I never got to see anyone in the camp. The guards put me under tight surveillance and in isolation.
I felt utterly distressed and in agony when the guards gloated over their victory in front of me. "All the Falun Gong practitioners came in with you have been 'reformed.' You are the only one left." I could actually feel my heart aching. For a long time I was suppressed by disappointment and sadness. I felt terribly alone and depressed. New groups of practitioners kept arriving, and one by one they were "reformed."
Soon the guards and collaborator shouted at me together, "You are the only one who is not 'reformed' in the team. We will see how long you will last!" I felt agony as well as rage. I thought, "What right do they have to control another person's mind?! What right do you have to replace my thoughts with yours? This is the logic of thugs! How can we allow it in this world?"
I knew the situation I was facing. I alone faced an evil, colossal government organization, but I also knew what it meant to be "reformed." To me it meant death or worse than death. Even if I didn't die because of "reform," I would become mad because my soul would have died. Since the day I obtained the Fa, I knew it was the way to return home that I had been searching for for a long time. The Fa is my soul, my life, and my destiny. Despite the Chinese Communist Party's persecution and the temptations in the human world, I have never wavered, feared that I might have missed something else, or doubted Teacher and the Fa in any way. This is the reason why even death threats cannot make me "reform" or give up my Falun Gong cultivation practice. No matter what awaits me ahead, I shall not regret my choice.
I knew it was useless to say anything to those completely lost inmates and collaborators in an environment where the evil elements were rampant. In this adverse environment, I had to be prepared to endure all kinds of long-term demonic tribulations. The camp had warned me a long time ago that I would be transferred to prison if I was not "reformed" by the end of my term in the camp. I had never thought of being released at the cost of compromising my faith.
On the other hand, I knew clearly that I had to protect myself. First, I had to be on the Fa at all times. I had to have great compassion and great forbearance. I could not hold a grudge against anyone. I could not complain about or hate anyone. If I had not been able to attain all of these, I would not have been able to last. I would have collapsed physically or I would have been driven to madness, because an ordinary human being would not be able to endure humiliation, abuse, and torture at this level. Second, I had to restrain and eliminate any hatred against my torturers. If I could not persuade them, I would keep silent and give them no chance to attack my mind. Third, I had to be prepared for the worst to come. I suddenly thought of what Teacher said:
"Some disciples said: 'What's there to fear? My body would still sit there even with my head cut off.'" ("Huge Exposure" in Essentials for Further Advancement)
"Having heard the Dao in the morning, one can die in the evening." ("Melt Into the Fa" in Essentials for Further Advancement)
Tears welled up my eyes because I was overcome with sadness and glory thinking of these words.
I remember the time when I was illegally arrested on January 3, 2001, and thrown into a forced brainwashing session held in a forced labor camp, but organized by the union of government organizations. I knew what it means to be "reformed." I was worried that the evil might exploit the fact that I did not study the Fa thoroughly and I might collapse because of their exploits. I fought for my life to resist the evil brainwashing. I went on a hunger strike to protest. I refused the administration of IV fluids and pulled out the needle. I stuffed cotton balls in my ears to keep from hearing the brainwashing. In the end, the constant rubbing caused my ears to bleed and the cotton clung to my ear canals. I refused to talk, listen, watch, or read anything. I even kept my eyes closed. I was impervious to round after round of pushing, kicking, pinching, beating, jeering ,and sneering. Although I prevailed over the brainwashing and was released unconditionally, it was only 15 days of torture. Now I faced what seemed like eternity, not 15 days. I did not have any weapon. Like I said, I felt like a lamb being thrown in with hungry tigers. After the first five months the battle between the righteous and the evil, where my only weapon of defense was the Fa, I no longer feared that I might be defeated because I felt I didn't study the Fa enough.
During the isolation, I was once sent to another team for brainwashing because there was a collaborator known for her ability to "reform" practitioners. They also obtained infamously eloquent collaborators loaned from other teams in attempts to "reform" me. They even repeatedly asked Li Dan, Jiang Jianrong, and Gao Jianxin, infamous collaborators, to the camp to "reform" me and to damage the Fa. All kinds of people enlightening along the evil way, be they warped, hypocritical, brutal, sinister, or ferocious, had ultimately collapsed and disintegrated before the Fa. I did not fear any practitioner that had enlightened along an evil way or any collaborator that the police thought to be an ace. Whoever they were, they failed to "reform" me. They tried sweet talking, damaging the Fa, acting ferocious, or abusing me physically and mentally for long months, but I always told them peacefully and slowly, "While I am in the Fa, no one can alter my faith!"
12. Group coercion
Although December 31, 2001, was the New Year's Eve, it was no different from any other day in the camp. There was no air of joy in the camp. They decided that I had no right to enjoy any holiday, so I was not allowed to attend any activity in the camp. After each room sang songs, they went to sleep on time as usual.
As usual, I was made to stay up writing my thoughts and waiting for the short amount of sleep at dawn. Around 11:00 p.m., shortly after everyone fell asleep, I heard a loud command, "Fall out!" The guards pounded on every door, hurrying everyone to gather in the corridor.
Everyone was panicking as they hurried out of bed and put clothes on at the same time. Everyone looked at each other in confusion.
Jiao stood in front of the formation and shouted, "Zhang Yijie! Step out!" After I stepped out, Jiao said, "Face everyone."
For some unknown reason, I felt uneasy this time. While I faced about 130 people, I was confused and a bit nervous, not knowing what to expect. I thought, "This must be an ambush. Who knows what they are playing at this time."
Looking at over 130 people before me, I was suddenly seized by a feeling of loneliness. For a very long time, I had felt I was fighting a battle alone. Now this feeling suddenly crept into my mind. But I quickly calmed myself and prepared to counter their new attack.
Jiao declared, "It has been a long time, but Zhang Yijie has not made any progress. From the captain to the practitioners, everyone has exhausted all their wits for her sake, but she is still holding onto the wrong belief obstinately. Today all of us must help her by spending time with her."
When I heard "spending time with her," I knew immediately that Jiao was repeating her old tricks. But this time they were well prepared. I saw several people moving forward and a few other people came to stand beside me. I looked at them and immediately identified who they were. All of them had been "reformed" and become collaborators, assisting the guards in brainwashing practitioners.
Jiao asked me, "Zhang Yijie, tell us what we should do."
I did not respond. Since I had arrived, I had witnessed the collaborators' evil interpretations of the Fa and their brainwashing. I have also met those "reformed" practitioners who "advised" me that I didn't have to "suffer for short-term loss." Some practitioners turned into different people against their conscience because they gave in to to the long-term torture. Some, after being "reformed," became convinced that it was correct to enlighten along the evil way; they even claimed that they were "genuine cultivators" and kept saying "Teacher." There was also a group that had joined the evil side wholeheartedly; they completely denied "Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance," slandered Teacher and the Fa, and assisted in torturing and abusing practitioners and in other wicked crimes.
I looked at them and said, "As cultivators, we may be under the same tutelage of the Fa, but everyone has her own understanding and enlightenment on the Fa. In other words, everyone has a different ambition. It is your free choice to cultivate or not cultivate. It is your free choice to believe or not believe in the Fa. Likewise, it is my free choice to cultivate. I respect other people's choices because any coercion is fruitless. Violence and coercion cannot change people's hearts. Ultimately everyone will face the consequences of each and every action she takes. You reap what you sow. This is a law that will always prevail, no matter whether you believe it or not." After I finished, the room became absolutely still.
I had a premonition of danger that night. It appeared that these collaborators had come prepared and with ambitions. Looking at the people in the corridor, I felt something I couldn't quite describe. Even those practitioners with some righteous thoughts dared not step out to speak up for me. If they had dared to, they would not have been "reformed."
Next a collaborator started to question me. I thought quickly, "How I should counter this attack?" In the face of the evil, I suddenly thought of Teacher's words. Just don't give them an audience. I decided not to talk to them or answer any question. I would not give them opportunities to say those evil words or I would help fuel their evil energy field. I was silent as I watched and listened to their performances, but I did not give them any chance for exploitation. I would watch their evil fire self-extinguish.
After these people made their speeches, the atmosphere turned cold. The corridor was silent again. Next, another round of attack began. No matter what they asked or how they tried to spite me, I looked straight ahead and said nothing. I had become impervious to criticism, condemnation, and the speeches of evil enlightenment. Jiao knew I was impervious, so she changed her approach. She said in a tone that implied she knew everything I was thinking, "You have let go of everything in your cultivation, including your membership in the Chinese Communist Party, your job, and even your salary. You think it's unfair, so you take it out by fighting with them (the collaborators). I know you are an excellent intellectual. It is precisely because you are outstanding that you are so stubborn. I knew you wanted to be 'reformed' in the beginning, except the reality pushed you into a corner. Don't be stubborn. Actually, you won't lose anything if you are 'reformed.'"
I thought, "So that's their perception of me. But how can you possibly understand a cultivator?!" With the same nonchalant facial expression, I continued to look into their eyes. The collaborators standing next to me started to talk. They imitated Jiao's approach, acting as though we were bosom buddies and they knew what went on in my mind. At times, the performers moved; they even held my hands or shook my arms. I remained impervious and looked ahead in silence. I was completely impervious.
The crowd began to stir. It was about midnight. The New Year chimes were about to begin.
Someone asked to use the toilet. People began to slouch or changed standing positions. The elderly were tired from standing and were leaning against the wall. Drug addict and other inmates began to mumble or talk to each other. Nobody wanted to stay up with me. Usually the guards would have shouted "Attention" by now, but tonight they turned a blind eye to the crowd's restlessness. I remained silent.
Then someone from the formation spoke out: "Zhang Yijie, you cultivate kindness. Do you have the heart to make over 100 people stay up with you? Just how long do you plan to have us stand here with you? It's been a long time and you still have not been 'reformed.' How many people's time have you wasted? Do you build your kindness upon other people's pain?"
I remained silent. Time tick-tocked. The corridor became silent again. Yet I felt the silence was filled with more and more evil elements. There was enough tension in the corridor to make the air explode. I was calm and peaceful, standing tall with my chin up. I tried to resist the increasingly suffocating field.
Suddenly, someone shouted from the crowd, "Zhang Yijie, where is your kindness? You are wicked. How can you watch so many people stay up with you?" The collaborators closed in around me again. "Zhang Yijie, renounce Falun Gong in writing. For the sake of us and our children and husbands. They are real. Everything else is illusion."
Suddenly, there was a commotion in the front of the formation because an elderly woman had collapsed, but people behind her caught her. Her last name was Wang. She was a skinny and frail woman in her 60s. It was alleged that her son was also a Falun Gong practitioner and was recently sent to Tuanhe Forced Labor Camp. The old woman wore a sad and painful xpression on her face. She had to rely on another person to stand up. After a while, she could not stand it any longer. She began to weep, so they let her sit on the ground. She watched me with a miserable expression, weeping and begging me, "Why don't you just agree to be 'reformed'?" She kept weeping in misery.
The guards did not bring her a chair, so she sat on the cold concrete floor. Her weeping became a weapon for the evil to exploit my kindness.
Now I felt very uncomfortable. There was a noise ringing in my head. Next I heard someone talking behind me, "Whatever you write will do. Whatever you write will do. Even just one line will do. As long as you write one line, we can all go back to bed."
I started to feel uneasy. I felt extremely tired although I tried my best to keep myself from collapsing. I had just come out of 42 days of isolation. This was the eighth day, but I had faced group coercion twice. I had to will myself to keep from collapsing spirituality and physically. I felt increasingly uncomfortable.
Suddenly the crowed shrieked, because Zhang Cuifen, an obese woman committed for selling fake bills, collapsed. People tried to catch her, but she was too heavy. She fell to the ground and passed out. Someone said that Zhang suffered from hypertension. A group of people carried her back to her room. There was a commotion in the crowd.
I was shocked by the scene. I felt guilty and uneasy.
The guards and collaborators read my response. They pulled me to a small desk on the far side of the corridor and stuffed a pen into my hand. "Just write. Write and everyone will be able to go back to sleep." A guard said, "Even just one line will do." I looked at the large group of people on the other side of the corridor. The frail old woman was still sitting on the floor, weeping. Two people were squatting next to her. People were calling Zhang Cuifen's name in the room, trying to wake her. People came in and out of her room, busily fetching medicine. In the crowd, people were talking.
They were really giving me a headache. I heard a voice next to my ear, "Let them go back to sleep. Write one line. Write one line. Write one line." The guards and collaboarators hurried me. "Hurry. Hurry. Just one line will do! Hurry! Everyone is waiting for you!" I looked at the crowd in the corridor and wrote one line: "Severing ties with Falun Gong's organization." Then I dropped the pen. The traitors and guards grabbed the paper quickly for fear that I might erase those words. Then two people pulled me back to my room.
Yet I was still paying attention to the corridor. I heard all the practitioners returning to their rooms. After a round of noises from their footsteps, silence reclaimed the corridor.
Everyone went back to their rooms and went to sleep. I let out a sigh of relief. But I also felt that I, that clearheaded version of me, had returned. I felt something was wrong. Those words I had just written were stabbing into my heart right. I felt restless. Next a voice told me, "Do you really think it is okay to write these words because Falun Gong has no organization? Is it true kindness to satisfy your human thoughts in the name of Falun Gong?"
I knew I had make a great mistake. The agony of alienating myself from the Fa enveloped me immediately. I quickly found a pen and a piece of a paper and wrote, "I solemnly declare that the words I have just written--'Severing ties with Falun Gong's organization'--to be null and void. Falun Gong has never had any organization; hence, I cannot sever myself from it."
I opened the door and asked a guard named Zhang to pass the paper to Jiao right away. She took the paper and left. I closed the door, but I still felt that my inner peace had been disturbed.
After a moment, several people stormed into the room led by a drug addict named Zhang Su. She grabbed my hair and started to punch and kick at me. During the violence, she scolded, "You only wrote a few words and now you are regretting them. You think we are three-year-old children? We stayed up for you, but you played a game with us."
She pulled my hair and shook my head while kicking me and shouting. "You are determined! I will see if you can remain determined!" I told myself repeatedly in my heart, "Good! You are right to beat me! I deserve it! I deserve it!" After they vented their anger, they left me though still cursing me.
After a while, Jiao pushed the door open and said with hatred, "Zhang Yijie, I knew you were playing with me. You practitioners have never admitted that Falun Gong is an organization. You played with words to trick me. Do you think I will believe you?"
I said, "Good. Good. It is good that you do not believe I severed ties with Falun Gong. You are perfectly right to think so!"
"Nothing good will come out of it if you insist on practicing Falun Gong. I tell you." She stormed off in anger.
I picked up handfuls of hair from the ground. I felt as though I had fought a deadly battle, but my heart could not return to peace for a long time. I could not help feeling guilty and remorseful for taking a wrong step. The Fa is solemn. Cultivation practice is solemn. I should not use the Fa to satisfy my human thoughts. I had committed a sin for damaging and disrespecting the Fa! Any human thought might throw me off the cliff and destroy my cultivation practice in a flash. My heart was in shock and agony. Cultivation practice is not child's play. This is a lesson that will be branded in my memory.
Later I learned that Jiao excitedly waved the paper in the air and announced that everyone could get up later the next morning because there would be no morning drill to celebrate this accomplishment. But the next morning, the morning drill bell rang as usual. The guards knocked on each door and shouted, "Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!"
"Didn't you say we could get up late this morning?" everyone grunted.
"Zhang Yijie 'rolled over!' Wake up! Zhang Yijie 'rolled over!' Get up! Wake up!"
After a long time, I finally learned that the old woman and Zhang Cuifen were given rewards. Both of them were acting. It was but a performance to make me renounce Falun Gong.
(To be continued...)