Rampant Corruption in the Chinese Communist Party's Forced Labor System (Part 2 of 3)
(Continued from Part 1: http://en.minghui.org/html/articles/2012/8/12/134906.html)
Evil behind a High Wall
The high wall of a forced labor camp is like a G-string, where lawless behavior is flaunted. There used to be a unit for drug addicts in the Tuanhe Forced Labor Camp in Beijing. After it was established, some guards sold drugs to the inmates. There were at least 10 drug trafficking groups that colluded with the police. Around 2002, an inmate reported the situation to the authorities. The authorities made a show of conducting an investigation, dismissed a deputy director of the labor camp, and dissolved the unit for drug addicts. An inmate sentenced for burglary was appointed to be a group head. He learned how to smoke dope in the forced labor camp.
Unsanitary Working Conditions
For a long time, inmates at the Beijing forced labor camps have made disposable chopsticks. The wooden chopsticks are usually wrapped by hand in a layer of paper before they are bundled up. First the sticks are piled on the ground. Each pair of chopsticks has to be wrapped in a piece of paper. To facilitate grabbing the paper, many of the inmates spit on their hands. Due to the poor sanitary conditions in the labor camp, they are not able to wash their hands after using the toilet. Some inmates use the wrapping paper to wipe their nose when they have a cold, then use the same piece of paper to wrap the chopsticks. When I pursued my graduate studies at China Electric Power Research Institute, the dining hall there used this kind of disposable chopsticks. The small restaurants around the Institute all used these disposable chopsticks, too, which had the assurance "sterilized at high temperature" printed on the wrapping. According to some inmates, before 2000, the Beijing Dispatch Center was just an unsanitary shed. The disposable chopsticks were laid on the floor, and people would step on them when they walked by.
Many inmates have repeatedly reported guards' illegal conduct, including beatings and extortion, to the authorities, but for decades, hardly any have been punished for their misconduct. The result is that the illegal conduct of the guards has become brazen. In most cases, they cover up their abuse of Falun Gong practitioners, because they fear international media exposure and they realize that the degree of evilness in persecuting Falun Gong is unprecedented. At one time, Su Jufeng, Education Secretary of the Third Brigade of Masanjia Forced Labor Camp, said to me, "You see Dabei (Prison) opposite us? It looks quite strict on the surface, but inside they seem to have a reasonable management. Most legal rights of inmates can be guaranteed. Most people that are admitted to our labor camp are here for lesser crimes, but they do not know it is so tough and disorderly here." Of course, the Falun Gong practitioners in Dabei Prison are as severely abused as those in Masanjia.
A Breeding Ground for Vice
The forced labor camp is a breeding ground for vice, where guards and inmates learn from each other. After working in the labor camp for some time, most of the officers talk and behave just like the criminals. Foul language fills the air and those in charge frequently beat the inmates. Several years ago, the male teams in Masanjia Forced Labor Camp usually went out to work. A policeman from Masanjia saw a few bicycles parked on the roadside one day. He told the inmates to put the bicycles on a tractor and transported them to the labor camp. Since the persecution of Falun Gong began, the labor camp has expanded its police forces. Some college students become labor camp police after passing the civil service examinations. When they first enter the labor camp, their behavior is good and they do not beat or swear at inmates, but after some time, their morals degenerate, too. Zhi Shunchang, a Third Brigade guard from Hebei Province, claimed to be a high school classmate of Falun Gong practitioner Wang Bo. For a long time after he joined the labor camp, he did not beat anyone. When the Third (Special Discipline) Brigade was established, he was transferred to the Third Brigade. Once when he had a meeting with the inmates, he lamented, “In today's society, there is no future for a person who is not degenerate, so I'll have to let myself degenerate somewhat.” Not long after that, he began to beat the inmates. Although he never beat me, he never let me use the restroom when I asked. (Note: In the factory, permission is needed to use the restroom.) The graduates from a police academy graduate usually degenerate quickly. For example, one head of a brigade, whose last name is Yu, was a graduate from a police academy. Not long after he arrived, he began to beat inmates quite brutally. The head of another brigade, Wang Fei, was retired from the army. As soon as he arrived, he beat the inmates. Even some General Education personnel looked down on him, saying that he beat people for no reason.
Some inmates have seek connections inside the labor camp. The General Education personnel called these inmates "people with connections." Such people are not beaten by the guards. Later, Wang Fei got even worse, becoming one of the most vicious in the Third Brigade. The guards at Masanjia Forced Labor Camp all claimed that they were the "law." At that time, the head of the Special Discipline brigade was Yu Jiang. The General Education personnel said Yu was so bad even a ghost would be afraid of him. Yu believed that he was a very able man who had been underutilized. He also claimed that he was a qualified policeman. A General Education personnel joked and said that in the forced labor camp, it is the senior villains (guards) that control the junior villains (inmates).
A System of Bribes and “Red Slavery”
A forced labor camp is just a private underground factory. Although the building and equipment belong to the state and the guards even enjoy the benefits of civil servants, the proceeds generated by the forced labor camps all go to the guards in the labor camp, tax free. The unique features of this underground factory are 1) the labor costs are negative, because the inmates not only work for free and pay their own medical expenses, but they also bribe the guards for reduced prison terms, assignment to group head, decreased work load, etc. 2) it is legal slavery – a "red slavery system." Compared to the slavery existing in human society in the past, this "red slavery" is very different. In the past, slaves have been the property of slave-owners. So, under most circumstances, the "master" would take care of his "property." However, the "red slaves" are only in the forced labor camp for a few years, so the guards exhaust all methods to exploit the inmates physically and financially. The living conditions for the "red slaves" are far inferior to those of slaves in the past. An inmate who was a group head at Masanjia said that he had to spend about 80,000 yuan in the labor camp (most of the money was used to bribe the guards). In other labor camps, inmates may nominally receive a few yuan in an allowance per month, but the inmates in Masanjia get nothing. Li Hailong, an inmate from Inner Mongolia, had no family to take care of him. Initially, some other inmates gave him some food and necessities, but after this was reported, the guards would not allow other inmates to support Li. When he left the labor camp (by that time, he had been persecuted until he developed a mental disorder), the guards did not give him any cash for transportation and told him to walk home. An administrative assistant told me, since the salary of the guards at Masanjia is much lower than that of the guards in Beijing or Shanghai labor camps, they have to make the inmates work longer to bring in more profit and offset their low salaries.
Complete Lack of Standards and Regulations
There are no management standards in China's forced labor camps. Not only does each labor camp have its own rules and regulations, but each brigade inside the same labor camp also has different regulations. Even then, the guards hardly follow the rules and regulations in managing the inmates, but act according to their own preferences. For example, the Third Brigade at Masanjia has established a "Regulations of the Third Brigade,” in which one entry is to prohibit any inmates from using the restroom at night. Initially, this rule was for Falun Gong practitioners, but later it was extended to prevent the General Education personnel from using restroom at night also. In the Third Brigade, there were elderly Falun Gong practitioners. Some of them wet their pants because they were not allowed to go to restroom at night. Li Hailong encountered this several times. Also, in the male section, all inmates have to shave their heads bald. Whenever their hair grows even a little, they had to shave it. During regular hours, inmates are not allowed to wear a hat. So, in the winter, the inmates are cold from head to toe after only a few minutes outdoors, because the temperature in Shenyang's winter can reach nearly 30 degree centigrade below zero.
At Masanjia Forced Labor Camp, inmates are not allowed to read books. Most of the time, they are not allowed to watch TV either. However, there was a period of time when the Third Brigade organized the inmates to watch CCTV news broadcasts. We watched the news for about a month. One day, the CCTV announced that it would broadcast news about the Chinese government faulting the US president for meeting with the Dalai Lama. Li Men was on duty that day. He rushed in and ordered that the TV be turned off. From then until the time I was released, we did not watch any more news. Any negative news seems to be something frightening to the authorities in the labor camp. When the Yushu earthquake took place, the labor camp did not tell us about it but did lower the national flag. Many inmates thought the flag had blown lower due to a strong wind. Even more unbelievable, the Beijing Dispatch Center stipulates that all inmates must walk rigidly, with both hands touching the legs without swaying. They can't even walk normally! Tuanhe Forced Labor Camp in Beijing has a special regulation, i.e., before each meal, inmates need to sing songs as a group. The songs are mostly related to forced labor, as well as the so-called "red songs." In the brigades where persecution of Falun Gong takes place, some "red songs" are also prohibited, such as the Chinese patriotic song "Unity is Strength," because in the lyrics there is a line "let all undemocratic systems die" and they thought it hinted at the demise of the CCP.
(To be continued)