The Slave Labor I Endured in Yunnan Women’s Forced Labor Camp
(Minghui.org) Reading an article published on the Minghui website recently reminded me of the days when I was detained and persecuted in Yunnan Province Women’s Forced Labor Camp. I was arrested on a bus on my way to Beijing to appeal to the authorities on behalf of Falun Gong in July 2000. They took me back to my hometown, illegally detained me for over 40 days, and then sentenced me to two and a half years of forced labor without following any legal procedures. They took me to the No. 2 Team of Yunnan Province Women’s Forced Labor Camp, where I personally witnessed a hell in the human world.
The Cookie Factory
In the first few days after I arrived, the guard ordered me to recite the camp rules. I said, “I am doing much better than the rules require. I don’t need to recite them.” A few days later the guard told me to go to the factory to make and package cookies in the cookie “factory,” which was no more than a big warehouse. The sides of the building were bricks with no windows, and the only exit was a simple wooden door. The roof was made of some type of corrugated metal, so inside it was cold in the winter and hot in the summer. Cookies were both made and packaged there.
The cookie machine ran all day long. The manufacturer provided the ingredients and the bakers. Inmates in the labor camp were only responsible for smearing the pink sweet stuff between the two cookie halves and packaging the finished cookies. Everyone had to finish and package 25 boxes of cookies a day, with each box weighing about nine pounds. When I went to the cookie factory, there were two practitioners and 40 to 50 non-practitioner inmates. We started work every day at 7:30 a.m. and finished at 11:30 p.m. The lunch break was only a bit over 10 minutes and lunch was eaten inside. Even working such long hours, few people could finish their quota. Many wore out their fingers, and their blood stained the cookies. The stained cookies were shipped along with the others. They shipped out over 2000 boxes of cookies every day.
The first day I was there, I finished 12 boxes. The next day I told the guard on duty that I would not make cookies anymore. She was surprised and asked me why not. I said “Would you buy such cookies?” She did not know what to say. I said, “You see bags of flour piled on the dirt floor. The cookie machine is full of dirt, and so is the mixer. Could cookies made like this be good for you? Workers are only allowed to go to the restroom three times a day without special permission. The restroom is dirty, with trash all over the floor and a bad smell. There are no towels, and everyone wipes their hands on their own apron. Would you eat such cookies? I am a Falun Gong practitioner. I cultivate Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance and want to be a good person. I cannot do things that are harmful to people.” The camp manager later told me, “The health department issued a certificate that said we passed inspection.” I said, “I have seen the true situation, haven’t I?” A few days later they switched me to work in the greenhouse.
The Greenhouse Nursery
I was taken to the nursery, where a practitioner in her 60s and a dozen other inmates (mostly drug addicts) were already there. The nursery was comprised of a big plastic greenhouse and a few acres of open land. The greenhouse was used to grow potatoes for a research institute. That kind of potato could not be grown in the dirt, but had to be planted in a special white colored soil. They needed to be watered and sprayed often with pesticides. When we sprayed pesticides, all the outlets were shut, and we inhaled lots of fumes. We spent much time weeding, replanting, and fertilizing. The fertilizers we used were mostly human waste and pig and chicken manure that were brought in from over from a mile away.
The work began at 7:30 a.m. every morning and ended after dark, with a one-hour break at noon. The buckets with manure were washed thoroughly, but the clothes that we wore were seldom washed. Sometimes at meals, people sitting next to us could not stand the smell. We were not given any time to rest. If there was any break, we would be ordered to wash the building, clean the yard, or mop the floor.
The Farm Group
The nursery group was combined with the farm group in winter to till the fields. Our assignment every day was to till the fields to a depth of 20 cm. The guard would tell someone to come and measure. If it was not 20 cm, we needed to go back and redo it. The dirt was very hard. Each strike of the hoe only dislodged a very thin layer of dirt. Especially in the orchards, the dirt there was so hard that the hoe would cause sparks when it hit the ground. I can't remember how many blisters I had. They became callouses later on and still cover my palms.
When spring came, we would help plant corn. The guard pointed at the land and said to, “You will all carry water over there to soak the dirt and then plant the corn. You can rest only when all the corn has been planted.” There were over 20 of us, and I was the only one who practiced Falun Gong. There were two guards. One stayed near the pond, and the other followed us around. The pond was about a half mile from the field. We began at 7:30 a.m. and worked until 4:30 p.m., nonstop until we finished the task. However, the guard thought that it was still too early to quit and took us somewhere else to carry manure.
The work in the forced labor camp was very hard, and the quotas were enormous. Those who could not finish their task had their terms extended. One note from a guard and your term might be increased by a couple of weeks or even longer.