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Cruel Conditions in the Shaanxi Province Women's Forced Labor Camp

August 21, 2011 |   By a Clearwisdom correspondent from Shaanxi Province, China

(Clearwisdom.net) In the past, most of the detainees at the Shaanxi Province Women's Forced Labor Camp were drug addicts. As of July 1999, however, many Falun Gong practitioners were incarcerated there.

On the surface this place appears neat: many things are well organized, ranging from bed sheets, quilts, towels, and wash basins to toothbrushes, gargling mugs, and slippers. But they only displayed there for inspectors, not for daily use. Some of the bars of soap and tubes of toothpaste have been there for several years and have never been used.

There is a saying in the labor camp, “[a detainee] works harder than a cow, gets up earlier than a rooster, eats worse than a pig, and sleeps less than a watchdog.” Most of the detainees had injuries upon release. In the early days, the labor camp produced rubber mats, and many detainees' arm muscles were damaged after extended exposure to high temperatures in the work area. When they got up in the morning, many of them had difficulty putting on their clothes due to severely swollen wrists. Beating and swearing are often seen at the labor camp. In fact, guards specifically selected the cruelest drug addicts to push for labor productivity and torture practitioners.

The labor camp produces counterfeit merchandise

This labor camp produces counterfeit merchandise. In the early days, disposable diapers were assembled here. They were constructed of low-quality toilet paper inside and white gauze outside. A large number of other fake baby items were made here and dispatched to different wholesale outlets. This type of work usually took place at night, followed by packaging counterfeit drugs during the daytime in the cells. The capsules were poured out on filthy bed sheets, dissembled, repackaged, labeled as imported medicine, and then shipped to the markets.

Once a weight loss pill was prepared at the labor camp, and the packaging process alone consisted of more than 10 steps, which even included an anti-counterfeiting symbol. Detainees manually put the pills into bottles in the filthy work unit. Once the business owner came to inspect. Seeing several pills that had fallen in the dirt, he ordered detainees to pick them up and bottle them. An officer intern happened to see this and was shocked, “I used to buy this weight loss medicine in the supermarket. I will dare not to buy it again from now on.” Cracking open a capsule, she found processed croton (the oil from seeds are a potent, toxic purgative) and corn flour inside. A large amount of medicine was packaged every day, but the manufacture date was always stamped as several months later. For example, a bottle sealed in March might carry a manufacture date of October. Many of the medicines were exported to other countries.

In unsanitary conditions detainees were forced to eat filth

All the detainees in Division 2 held a hunger strike in July 2003 to protest the humiliating mistreatment at the labor camp. The workload was very heavy those days, and the detainees had not slept for six days. Many fell down as they worked, and after coming to, had to continue. One day higher officials came for an inspection. The detainees only had a 20-minute break at breakfast time; there was no time to eat. The labor camp policy did not allow food to be kept in the cells, so the steamed buns were discarded into a trash can in the bathroom. Hearing the inspectors were coming, one guard ordered detainees to clean up the trash can. Walking downstairs, one detainee accidentally tripped and the trash with food waste in it spilled all over on the stairs. Labor camp head Tan saw this and said, “These steamed buns will be your lunch. Each person has to eat one bun.” Since the food had been mixed with trash for a long time in the high temperature, some of it had gone bad, while some of the buns had used toilet paper stuck to them. But everyone had to finish eating one bun. As the detainees swallowed the buns in tears, many guards could not help laughing at them.

In the dining hall was a three-yard-long dishwashing facility. Very often the tap water was used to wash mops before it flowed to the dish cleaning area. Because of that, the detainees often had diarrhea. In addition, the washroom was usually locked to reduce costs, and sometimes the detainees had access to only cold water once a week. All the detainees' clothes and quilts were stored together in one room and, because they could not be washed, the room had a strong, stinky smell.

All daily articles and snacks had to be purchased from the camp store. Detainees' money was deposited on purchase cards, and many of cards had unexplainable duplicate charges.

Camp officials acquired many detainees by “buying” them. Detainees provide free labor, and they can work overnight, generating high profits for the guards. When a drug addict pays 10,000 yuan, she can act as a “guard assistant” and is assigned a lighter workload. When she pays 50,000 yuan, guards may covertly release her.

Labor camp detainees are money-making tools

In 2007, camp officials found the number of detainees was significantly low, because many detained drug addicts were released after paying the local government. As a result, camp officials made requests to local polices stations for more detainees, which in turn led to arrests of more practitioners. Because local police were paid by labor camp officials, the police did not even spare Falun Gong practitioners in their 70s or 80s. Due to the extreme need for labor, the camp officials accepted whoever was sent to them.

Although the number of detainees decreased, the amount of work assignments the camp officials decided to take on remained the same. The guards thus forced detainees to work extra hours every day, often overnight. Because camp policies prohibit working extra hours [overtime], when higher officials came to inspect, the guards moved the tools and materials into the cells. The glue, which was often used to make handbags, was toxic, giving out a pungent odor that made one's eyes tear. Sometimes after stopping work at midnight, the detainees were forced to get up at three or four o'clock in the morning and resume working.

Because the guards shared in the profits, they conspired with drug addicts to smoke or sell cigarettes to increase the productivity. The price of a cigarette is about 10 times higher than on the outside. The drug addicts were allowed to indulge themselves this way during each family visitation day.

Brutal persecution of practitioners

Persecuting Falun Gong practitioners is of the highest priority for labor camp officials. According to some officials, an early internal document cited a high official's speech: “Persecute Falun Gong practitioners at any price, but leave no trace for others to track down.” After that, camp officials began to cruelly torture practitioners. They did so for financial gain. According to an internal labor camp system document, after participating in persecuting Falun Gong, the camps received a large amount of funding and increased staff. Not only that, given the critical role labor camps play in the persecution system, their staff received more benefits and better housing.

Education division head Li Zhen (female) once covered Baoji City practitioner Ms. Xu Ming's nose and mouth tightly, leaving her almost suffocated. She then attempted to torture Xi'an City practitioner Ms. Zhao Pengli in the same way. Ms. Zhao ran away and called out for help. Practitioners detained behind the metal gate heard her and hurried to rescue her. Seeing this, the guards immediately removed the tape from both practitioners. Whenever Li stayed with a practitioner alone, she either kicked her or grabbed her hair and knocked her against a wall. Li often slapped practitioners in the face, especially elderly ones. Once she beat several practitioners very hard, almost like a beast. Their outer thighs were swollen.

Torture Re-enactment: Knocking against a wall

In late 2001, when guard Yu Yan saw 64-year-old practitioner Ms. Liu Yuwen murmuring during work, she yelled at her and ordered her to stand up. Ms. Liu did not respond. Yu Yan called six drug addicts and ordered them to beat her without stopping. They grabbed her by the hair and knocked her head hard against a plastic window. Thinking that was not enough, Yu then beat Ms. Liu herself. Because of the high-heeled shoes she wore, Yu fell. She got up and furiously hit Ms. Liu in the face for half an hour. More than 100 detainees saw this; practitioners protested to the labor camp officials about this.

Later on guards hung Ms. Liu up at the end of the hallway where the wind was blowing hard. It was a freezing winter, but she was hung up there from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., until she lost consciousness. After being put down, Ms. Liu shivered for half an hour because of the cold. She was eventually handcuffed again for two weeks.

When evil head Jiang Zemin visited Xi'an City in March 2002, labor camp officials intensified the persecution of practitioners. They sent Li Zhen and other guards to Masanjia Forced Labor Camp for training on how to “reform” practitioners. The guards then set aside seven or eight small rooms in the south building to torture practitioners day and night. Two guards and one collaborator were in each room. Even the guards themselves considered 2002 and 2003 the most horrifying time. Each guard was given a white booklet with more than 100 pages. The booklet described all kinds of tortures, including prohibiting practitioners from doing the exercises, intensive labor until practitioners' previous illnesses recur, and forced drug ingestion. The booklet also addressed hunger strike prevention.

Ms. Liu Gaixian, a practitioner from Qishan County in Baoji City, was hung onto a metal gate during a hot summer and exposed to the burning sun all day long, without water or access to a toilet. She was put in solitary confinement at dusk where a television was set at the highest volume and the highest brightness. She had to sit only 10 centimeters (less than four inches) from the television screen, devastating her eyes. Following her labor camp detention, Ms. Liu was sentenced to imprisonment for a term of three and a half years. While incarcerated, she was tortured to a life-threatening condition. Ms. Liu died on October 22, 2006, at age 55, about two months after her release.

Dali County practitioner Ms. Yang Cuixia, in her 40s, was in a cell with more than 10 drug addicts. Shortly after that, she was unable to eat due to severe torture. Later on she could not even swallow water or move around. In the end she was taken to a hospital. Within several hours, guards saw her having difficulty breathing. They then contacted her family to pick her up.

Guard Liu Wei once said to Baoji City practitioner Ms. Shi Meiling, “If you do not yield and 'reform,' we will torture you to death. It is no big deal; just like a fly dying. We will then call reporters to come and tell them that you have committed suicide.” Once when a drug addict saw guards brutally beating practitioners, she was scared and told her cell mates upon returning her cell, “Gosh, I have never seen such a violent beating in my entire life. It was horrifying.” She was shaking with terror as she spoke. Ms. Shi died in 2002 due to torture.

Ms. Geng Yanping, a well-educated employee at the Xianyang Airport, went to Beijing to appeal. Shortly after she left Lanzhou City, local officials found out and dispatched an airplane to Beijing ahead of her arrival. Ms. Geng was arrested as soon as she got off the airplane and taken to a labor camp for a term of three years. In the camp she was once handcuffed and kept in a position where she could neither stand or squat, making her very uncomfortable. When guard Wang Li saw this, she took a basin of dirty water that had been used to clean a mop and poured it over her lower body. It was the hottest days during the summer; guards handcuffed her for six days and nights.

At 8 a.m. on December 31, 2006, guard Yuan Yuan ordered five drug addicts to push practitioner Ms. Li Jinfeng down and beat her. It was said that they beat her until she lost consciousness, and then poured cold water on her to wake her up. The temperature that day was about minus three degrees.

When guard Liu Fangcui was in charge of meals and sanitation, she was caught adding drugs into practitioners' food. Practitioners refused to eat after this and went on a hunger strike.

In 2008 guard Zhang Xueni ordered drug addicts to torture Ms. Li Nige, a college professor in her 30s. The methods included the Tiger Bench and Riding an Airplane.

Guards put Shanbei Middle School teacher Ms. Zhang into a straight jacket for a long time. She was isolated for a long period, without access to water, while being beaten and sworn at by the drug addicts.

Guard Guo Ni once asked a “guard assistant” candidate (a detainee), “If you act as a guard assistant, you will have fewer work assignments. But the question is, can you be ruthless?” The candidate said, “No problem.” By assisting the guards, the detainees can earn term reductions.

This is just a small sampling of the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners that takes place in Shannxi Women's Forced Labor Camp.