(Clearwisdom.net) Dance performers and athletes often practice doing the splits to make their bodies more flexible. The goal is to stretch the legs apart in a straight line. Training to do the splits needs to be gradual and usually starts at a very young age. For most adults, it is extremely difficult to split one's legs in a straight line without some sort of training. However, the Chinese Community Party (CCP) uses this method as a form of torture against Falun Gong practitioners who have been taken into custody in order to force them to give up their beliefs. The practitioner's legs are forcibly pulled apart in a straight line. It is very painful and often ends up tearing ligaments, and in some cases even causes permanent disability. This torture method is called “splitting the legs.” In some places it is called “splitting the hips” or “widely splitting the hips.”

Torture re-enactment: Splitting the legs

The most common way to split a practitioner's legs is to pull the legs in opposite directions and then push the body down from the top, forcibly making the legs split. Sixty-year-old Falun Gong practitioner Ms. Li Mingying from Qiqihar City, Heilongjiang Province was tortured like this by police officer Wang Zhaoshan from the Political Security Department of Longsha Police Station, and a police officer with last name of Yi from Hubin Police Station. Ms. Li's hands were handcuffed behind her back, and one of the two officers pushed her neck down and then sat on her neck, while the other officer viciously kicked her legs and feet. Her legs were split in a straight line on the ground. They then lifted her handcuffed hands to pull her up from the ground, and then repeated the splitting process again. Ms. Li was repeatedly tortured in this way for an entire morning, and the muscles and ligaments in both of her legs were seriously injured.

The notorious Masanjia Forced Labor Camp in Liaoning Province also has other methods to split the legs of Falun Gong practitioners. One is similar to the description above, but once the practitioner is on the ground with their legs split, guards or prisoners then step on the practitioner's heels and knees, so that their legs are completely flat on the ground. Fifty-eight-year-old Ms. Li Jinqiu was tortured in this manner three times in one day in November 2009. Her legs were covered in purple marks after the police stepped on them. She is still unable to walk today.

Ms. Li Jinqiu

Falun Gong practitioner Mr. Cui Dejun from Wafangdian, Liaoning Province, was a battalion level officer in the army. He was transferred out of the army because he persisted in practicing Falun Gong. Mr. Cui also suffered this torture in Masanjia Forced Labor Camp. The police forced him to stand on his left leg facing a bed, while forcing his right leg onto the upper bunk. His left shin was pressed against the bottom bunk and his right calf was against the upper bunk, and his legs were in a straight line. They then stretched his arms apart and locked them on both sides of the bed. He was forced to maintain this position for an hour and a half. They then switched his legs and held him in that position for more than an hour. After this torture he could no longer use his left leg. After about ten minutes, the police ordered some prisoners to step on one of his legs while splitting the other leg. He was again in excruciating pain. He was then forced to sit with his back against the edge of the bed. His hands were handcuffed behind his back on the other side edge of the upper bunk, and his legs were again split apart. Without relenting, they then turned his left foot to point upwards and his right foot to point downwards, and tied each foot to either side of the bed.

Police officer Wang Hanyu then put an ashtray in front of Mr. Cui's face and lit the wasted cigars, cigarette, and papers. The smoke caused Mr. Cui's eyes and nose to become runny. At the same time, they played audio recordings that defamed Falun Gong, and used electric batons to shock him. After an hour, they again ordered the prisoners to step on Mr. Cui’s legs while they were split. They then repeated the process, this time pointing his right up and his left foot down, and tied them to both ends of the bed. After an hour, the prisoners again came to step on his legs. This torture continued from 8:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. Unabashed, the torture started again the next morning and continued for eight days.

In Shanghai's Tilanqiao Prison, this splitting torture is called “tiger benching.” Falun Gong practitioner Lu Xingguo, who lives in Wangganghong First Village, Tang Town, Pudong New District, was subjected to this torture while he was detained in Shanghai Qingpu Third Forced Labor Camp. On March 13, 2003, police ordered several prisoners to “tiger-bench” Mr. Lu. They put a small circular stool against the wall, which was called a “small tiger bench.” It is actually a tool for coil winding. Mr. Lu was forced to sit on the ground with his back against the small tiger bench. His legs were stretched outward, and his body and legs formed a 90 degree angle. His arms were forced down each side of his body into a straight line and were pushed against the wall. Several prisoners then forcibly pulled his legs outward in opposite directions until they were close to 180 degrees apart. Mr. Lu's painful cries could be heard outside. The prisoners asked him whether he would agree to be “transformed.” Mr. Lu firmly said he would not be “transformed” and would not give up his belief in Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. The prisoners then continued torturing him for two days. The ligaments in Mr. Lu's legs were severely injured and he could no longer stand up or walk.

Another common form of “splitting the legs” involves stretching all of the practitioner's limbs. Sometimes it is called “stretching torture” and sometimes “five horses splitting the body.” When this form is used, the perpetrators forcibly stretch the practitioner's limbs into four different directions, and as a result the body leaves the ground. As this is done, sometimes they also stretch the legs into opposite directions to form a straight line. The pain of this torture is unimaginable.

Torture re-enactment: “Five horses splitting the body.” Police handcuff the practitioner's hands to the two upper bunks, then order several people to pull the beds in opposite directions. The practitioner's body will feel like it's about to break apart and the extreme pain can even be felt in the internal organs.

While detained in Chibi City Detention Center, 62-year-old Falun Gong practitioner Ms. Liu Xiaolian from Chibi City, Hubei Province was tortured with “five horses splitting the body” by 19 police officers, led by detention center director Deng Dingsheng. Police ordered four prisoners to hold Ms. Liu’s arms and legs, and Deng Dingsheng held her head. They then together forcibly pulled in five different directions. Ms. Liu's genitals were immediately torn and split, and the bones in her entire body made a series of noises as they became dislocated. The police unashamedly laughed loudly.

Ms. Liu Xiaolian

There is another “creative” form of splitting torture that is hard to imagine, illustrated with the following example. At around 5:00 p.m. on March 28, 2006, Falun Gong practitioner Mr. Sun Hongchang from Qingyuan County, Fushun City, Liaoning Province was arrested and taken to Qingyuan Town Police Station by seven or eight police officers, including Guan Yong, from State Security of Fushun Public Security Bureau. Guan Yong and six other police officers began to torture Mr. Sun at 11:00 p.m. that night.

Mr. Sun Hongchang was tortured with “splitting the legs,” which led to his disability

After police beat and kicked Mr. Sun for an hour, they used an electric baton to shock his penis, and then violently punched Mr. Sun's genitals with their fists. They then tortured Mr. Sun with “splitting the legs.” The perpetrators locked his right leg onto a metal bed and stretched his left leg. Guan Yong didn't think they were stretching hard enough and said, “Go find two wooden sticks and buy a wide roll of tape.”

After they had everything ready, they taped the two wooden sticks to Mr. Sun's legs so that they wouldn’t bend. They then locked Mr. Sun's right leg to the bed and Guan Yong, using both hands, lifted Mr. Sun’s left leg above his head. This continued for one or two hours each time. Mr. Sun’s loud screams could be heard by the people who lived close to the police station, and he passed out many times. The torture continued until 5:00 a.m. the next morning. As they were torturing Mr. Sun, one of them said, “We are so inhuman. We beat your wife to death. If you die, all we need is to spend 2,000 yuan and we won't be held responsible.”

During the night of March 30, after they beat Mr. Sun, they again used the “splitting the legs” torture on him. They also kicked Mr. Sun's left foot very hard. Guan Yong and other police officers asked Mr. Sun as they tortured him, “Does it hurt?” Mr. Sun's entire left leg was purple and badly swollen. He could not stand up or walk and could only lie down.

The pain from this type of torture does not disappear quickly. On March 31, Mr. Sun was carried into Dashagou Detention Center in Qingyuan County. The extreme pain in his legs continued throughout his time in the detention center. On May 9, the detention center ordered Mr. Sun's relatives to send 1,000 yuan to treat his injury. Mr. Sun's left leg became completely disabled after some time. His left foot atrophied and the toes became curled. His left leg and foot had atrophied and become much smaller than his right leg and foot.

It is difficult to imagine how anyone could be so cruel so as to employ tortures such as these, but “splitting the legs” is still widely used on Falun Gong practitioners in China.