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Rampant Corruption in the Chinese Communist Party's Forced Labor System (Part 1 of 3)

August 12, 2012 |   By Zheng Xujun, a Falun Gong practitioner from Mainland China

(Minghui.org) After reading Falun Gong practitioner Wang Haihui's account of being tortured in Masanjia Forced Labor Camp (“Wang Haihui Recounts the Brutal Persecution He Suffered in Masanjia Forced Labor Camp” Parts 1 and 2, published on the Chinese version of Minghui.org), I was upset for several days because his experiences brought back memories of the persecution I endured. Although the articles described only a small part of what goes on in these camps, the extent of their depravity is horrific, and the persecution still continues. After the persecution of Falun Gong began in 1999, the forced labor camps became the major players in carrying out the persecution. The labor camp system immediately received massive funding from the state after Jiang Zemin initiated the suppression of Falun Gong. Tens of thousands practitioners are being persecuted in labor camps nationwide. I was tortured and abused in Tuanhe Forced Labor Camp in Beijing and at Masanjia Forced Labor Camp over the span of four and a half years.

Crimes Carried Out in Masanjia Forced Labor Camp

The forced labor camps have set up special “control cells,” where the worst torture is carried out. To further conceal their activities, the special control cells of the Third Brigade at Masanjia Forced Labor Camp are located in a room used as a warehouse and the room opposite the warehouse room. The windows of the cells are covered with reflective paper, so no one can see in. When items are picked up daily from the storeroom, guards cover up the practitioners, so other inmates do not know how badly they have been abused. After reading Wang Haihui's accounts, I learned what other practitioners have endured. Wang Haihui and I were detained in one group before he was sent to the “special control cell.” Wang Haihui gave me the impression that he was very unassuming and did not talk much. When he first arrived in the camp, one time he cried and said that he had been forced to sign the statement to denounce Falun Gong. He felt he had let Master Li down.

One day Wang Haihui took a rag to the chalkboard to erase a few of the signatures of Falun Gong practitioners who had been forced to denounce Falun Gong. Inmate Chen Xue stopped him. Later Wang Haihui was sent by the team leader of the brigade to the special control cell for long-term abuse until he was released. At the time there were about over 100 practitioners' names on the chalkboard. It was the humiliation of the Falun Gong practitioners in the Third Brigade. Behind each signature was their blood and tears. Guards got those signatures by torturing practitioners using stretching beds, high-voltage electric batons, beatings and other cruel methods.

The persecution of female practitioners in Masanjia Forced Labor Camp has been widely reported, and many incidents of abuse were exposed. Because the brigade for female practitioners was established very early, the majority of female practitioners from Liaoning Province were sent there. There are many female practitioners inside, and the extent of the evil perpetrated upon them has shocked the world. The brigade for male practitioners was established later. The male practitioners were held in different forced labor camps throughout the provinces. The Third Brigade of Masanjia for male practitioners was set up at the end of September 2008. On October 20, 2008, I was transferred from the Sixth Brigade to the Third Brigade. The labor camp purchased a batch of 800,000-volt electric batons and installed barbed wire on top of the tall walls after establishing the Special Control Team in the Third Brigade.

Since the creation of the Special Control Team, close to 100 Falun Gong practitioners from forced labor camps in Jinzhou, Fushun, and Anshan in Liaoning Province were transferred in. They were all imprisoned by the 610 Office to ensure “Olympic security.” Ironically, I was told by the Changping District 610 Office in Beijing while I was detained in a brainwashing center, “Falun Gong discredits the Beijing Olympics and wants to demonize the Olympic rings as handcuffs.” I replied, “We are saying what you are doing really has already turned the five rings into handcuffs.” According to the police from the Beijing Forced Labor Dispatch Office, their arrest quota for “Olympic Games security” was 250,000 practitioners.


Torture re-enactment: Electric batons

In order to motivate the guards in the Special Control Team, the Justice Department also specifically assigned the Third Brigade a quota of two deaths. That meant the guards could torture two practitioners to death without being held responsible. According to a squad leader (a criminal inmate), Yu Jiang, team lead of the Special Control Team, told them during a meeting that they could only beat the Falun Gong practitioners. The guards repeatedly encouraged the squad leaders to beat practitioners. They were told that if anything happened (i.e. a practitioner died or was injured), the team leader would take care of it and squad leaders wouldn't be held responsible. The guards torture practitioners slowly. You'd be alive but it was worse then death. I was beaten by guards using electric batons twice in the Third Brigade. Seven or eight guards participated. They handcuffed me and then stepped on me. Four or five guards hit my head, neck, and other exposed areas with the high-voltage electric batons. This torture lasted half an hour each time. Sun Shuchen was also beaten with me. He was beaten more times than I was, and the beatings lasted longer, too. The last time we were beaten together, he ended up mentally disordered. When practitioner Mr. Li Hailong first came to the Third Brigade, he was tortured with the stretching bed for five hours. Afterwards he could not walk, but he was still held in the Special Control unit. The guards instigated inmate Young Ying to continue to torture him. Soon he developed a mental disorder. Mr. Li was about 30 years old. Practitioners Cui Dejun, Sun Yi, Cai Chao, and Lin Yongxu passed out several times during the torture on stretching beds.


Torture re-enactment: Stretching bed

When the Special Control Team was first established, the tortures used were mainly high-voltage electric batons, beatings, long-time standing, and sitting on a small bench for a long time, but no stretching beds. When a group of practitioners from Fushun were transferred to Masanjia, they shouted "Falun Dafa is good!" after their arrival. The guards began to hit the practitioners' faces. Zhao Liankai and Luo Dungui's faces were burned. Their faces were mutilated and looked terrible. The scars were still visible when they were released. In order to conceal their atrocities, the guards decided to use a stretching bed, which can cause disability or death without leaving visible injuries. After that, any new incoming practitioner who refused to sign the statement to denounce Falun Gong was tortured on a stretching bed.

In the beginning, the Third Brigade invited “instructors” from Masanjia's female camp to teach classes in how to discredit Falun Gong. But the guards from the male camp thought what those instructors talked was nonsense, so they did not invite them again. In the male camp the guards mainly use force to make practitioners give up their beliefs. If you refuse to sign the statement, they will use torture, like beating with electric batons, stretching beds, and beatings until you cannot endure it and give up. Yu Jing, the team leader of the Special Control Team, said once that no Falun Gong practitioner in the Third Brigade would give up his belief willingly. All the torture is just for the perpetrators to get a bonus from the higher authorities. As long as a practitioner signs the statement, the guards can report to the higher authorities that he gave up his belief and the guard will get over a thousand yuan as a bonus.

The guards in the labor camp all know that practitioners are good people, but they say the Communist Party gives them money, so they persecute Falun Gong for the Party. They believe that the CCP can last at least another five years. Several guards said they would practice Falun Gong if someone gave them 10,000 yuan a year. Officer Su Jufeng said, "In this society, no one will do anything for you without being paid. Only Falun Gong practitioners will sacrifice for the truth and for their belief."

On June 4, 2008 I was transferred to Masanjia Forced Labor Camp from Tuanhe Forced Labor Camp. In the first few months we were forced to do hard labor 14 hours a day, seven days a week to finish an order on time. Team Lead Liu Zhenjie said, “Forced labor is work.” The meals at Masanjia were terrible. The staple is corn, which is usually used to feed animals. The vegetable is clear soup. So many inmates suffer stomach problems, but they have to pay for expensive medical treatment themselves, including the fares to the hospital. The average inmates say that two years of work in a labor camp wears them out for a lifetime. So many of them cannot live normally after leaving the labor camp, and many released inmates continue to commit crimes. As a result, many are sent to the forced labor camp for a second time. There are also some who have returned nine times.

One time, a head of the Forced Labor Office came to the Third Brigade. I asked her, “Aren't there provisions that stipulate 'education, probation, save' inmates, and even identify the rights of the inmates? Why are inmates treated so badly? The leader said, “If you treat the inmate well, he will commit a crime again after he gets out. If you punish him severely, he will be afraid to commit a crime because he might end up back in the labor camp.” She was convinced that violence can change a person's thinking. I was stunned. Many guards also expressed the same understanding. The guards in Masanjia Forced Labor Camp often beat inmates themselves. They like to slap inmates in the face. In the workshop you often hear slaps. Team Lead Qin Li once said to me, "It takes too much time to reason with an inmate. I just slap him to save time, and it's effective. He will change and remember it.” Most guards like beating people. Of course, they know it is illegal. Li Meng, a guard from the Third Brigade likes beating the most. One time he beat the squad leader, Zhang Bo (a regular inmate), and his eye glasses fell off, and his face was swollen with blood in his mouth. Usually guards beat regular inmates to extort money from them. Falun Gong practitioners are beaten for various reasons. The guards also instigate regular inmates to beat practitioners. One time a squad leader paid team leader Yu Jiang to reduce his term. Yu Jiang told him that it was not enough to pay him, that he also needed to cooperate by torturing practitioners.

The labor camp guards can beat practitioners at will. Once, a guard brutally beat practitioner Sun Yi in the workshop. Sun Yi shouted, "The guard is beating me! The guard is beating me!" The guard continued and said, "Keep shouting. No one can hear it over the tall walls.” Not only that, as long as the team leader okays it, a squad leader can beat regular inmates, too. Once in the cafeteria of the Second Brigade, squad leader Xing Jun continuously knocked regular inmate Tang Mingxing to the ground. He did not stop until Tang was almost dead, and his face was covered with blood. About 20 guards from three brigades were present, but no one stepped forward to stop it. Hundreds of inmates watched the entire thing. The squad leader beat others generally for money. Any inmate who offers a thousand yuan to the team leader can become a squad leader for a year or so. The usual day-to-day management of the inmates is regulated by the squad leader. So the squad leader asks for property from other inmates. A tough squad leader squeezes more money from inmates than the thousand yuan he gives the team leader. When I first entered the labor camp, I repeatedly reported to the team leader that squad leaders were beating inmates and hoped the leader would stop such violations to protect the legitimate rights and interests of the inmates. But the team leader said, “If I criticize the squad leader, he would not have a tough reputation and would not be able to manage other inmates. We do not have enough guards in the forced labor camp. Inmates must be managed by the squad leader. So the team leader must also protect the reputation of squad leaders.”

Team leaders earn money through term reductions or by selling the squad leader position. Term reductions come around once a year. I remember in 2009 only a few inmates in the Third Brigade wanted to pay to reduce their terms. Team Lead Yu Jiang personally found inmates to talk this up. Some squad leaders do not have any money, so they cannot afford to get their terms reduced. Yu Jiang often berated those squad leaders for all kinds of reasons. One squad leader joked that Yu Jiang even berated people in his dreams. It was said that a team leader could squeeze at least 200,000 yuan a year out of “his” inmates.

(To be continued)