A Personal Account of Persecution: "I Didn't Think I'd Ever Get Out Alive!"
(Minghui.org) “I nearly fainted from the pain. I could not escape. Words cannot describe the pain I felt. Time crept by. I was tormented every second, hovering between life and death. Death would have been easier, as the pain was so great. I had only one thought: 'I cannot submit to them. I must not let them take pleasure in my suffering.'”
The above is a description of but one incident of torture endured by Falun Gong practitioner Ms. Zhu Xiumin. She was illegally arrested many times for telling people the facts about Falun Dafa and exposing the lies propagated by the Communist regime to justify its suppression of the practice. Ms. Zhu was interrogated and severely tortured by the Yangming Police Department in Mudanjiang City. She was whipped with a rubber hose, her nose stuffed with a cloth soaked in hot mustard oil, and her head covered with a plastic bag.
In 2002, Ms. Zhu was only 30 years old when she was arrested and tormented for her involvement in intercepting cable TV signals and broadcasting videos that clarified the facts about Falun Gong. She was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment and brutally tortured in the notorious Heilongjiang Women's Prison. She was put through all kinds of torture, including being shocked with electric batons, enduring freezing temperatures, relentless beatings, being made to stand or sit on a small stool for long periods of time, and sleep deprivation.
After narrowly escaping death, Ms. Zhu exclaimed: “I didn't think I'd ever get out alive and return home!” Yet she did, and she recounts her harrowing experience below:
My name is Zhu Xiumin and I live in Daqing City. I was born in 1972. In October 1998 I read Zhuan Falun and had a feeling that this was what I had been searching for. My heart became serene and calm. I understood the purpose of one's existence and how one should live.
However, this peaceful period did not last long. In July 1999, the communist regime began to publicly spread rumors about and slander Falun Dafa nationwide through its state-controlled media. Practitioners began to be persecuted.
Police Department Head Warned, “I Will Strip Off All Your Clothes!”
Several practitioners and I began to intercept cable TV signals and broadcast videos to let those who were deceived by state propaganda realize the truth about Falun Gong. On April 26, 2002, practitioner Wang Xueshi was arrested by the Yangming District Police Department while intercepting TV signals. He had climbed up on the cable poles and did not have time to escape when he saw the police vehicle approaching.
On May 8 at around 1 p.m., I was arrested by four officers at the train station. I shouted, “Don't arrest me!” to warn practitioner Cui Sange, who was a dozen meters away. I was pushed into a car, and my head was forced below the seat. My cell phone and purse were confiscated. Cui Sange was subsequently arrested by Yangming Police Department in July. His ribs were fractured, and he was beaten to death.
At Yangming Police Department, I was shackled to an iron chair. The director, whose last name was Zhu, hit me in the head and shouted, “We have not slept properly for more than half a month arresting you people! I'm going to strip you naked!” I replied firmly, “No you won't.” He said, “You think I'm afraid to do it?”
He came close to me. I said loudly, “No, you cannot. First, you are a police officer, not a thug. Second, I'm not angry at you. What we did was not directed at the police. You of all people should know why we did this.” He calmed down and changed his attitude. Later on, the political head from the police station came and resorted to hypocrisy to trick me into a confession. He tried to persuade me for a long time.
The two officers who had arrested me walked into the room. They took off the chains on my legs, claiming that they had found another stubborn practitioner and more officers were needed.
Whipped with a Rubber Hose
After they left, the political head continued to try to get information out of me. Afterwards, the two officers who had arrested me started to beat and interrogate me. One of them took off my shoes and socks and made me stand on the cement barefoot. My calves were bound to the legs of the iron chair with chains. My arms were shackled to either side of the iron chair and my hands were handcuffed.
The officer held a piece of rubber hose twisted into three sections and whipped the backs of my legs. He whipped and shouted, “I will focus on your legs until the tips of your toes turn blue and black and then fall off.” He kept lashing me non-stop. Because my legs were bound, I could not move.
I could not help but cry out at the first lashing, it was so painful. He laughed at my pain and swore at me, using foul language. From then on, I did not utter a sound. He hit me with all his might for half a day and was astonished to see that I did not have any reaction or even an expression on my face. He loosened the chains a little and then continued to whip me again. No matter how hard he hit me, I still did not make a sound, and there was no expression on my face. I kept watching him as he whipped me and he gradually stopped.
I nearly fainted from the pain. I could not escape. Words cannot describe the pain. Time crept by. Every second was torment, and I hovered between life and death. Death would have been easier. I had but one thought: “I cannot submit to them. I will not bow to them nor let them take pleasure in my suffering."
The officer then began to whip my body as well as my legs. I don't know how long this went on, but he stopped to take a break. He pointed to five, six bottles of mustard oil on the table and said, “We have a lot of experience on how to deal with people like you, and this includes force-feeding you with mustard oil.”
Nostrils Stuffed with Cloth Soaked in Mustard Oil, Head Covered with Plastic Bag
Next, he poured mustard oil onto a piece of cloth and covered my nose with it. Then he quickly covered my head with two layers of plastic bags. My mind was blank. I thought I would rather die than have them ridicule me. I did not breathe when they covered my nose with mustard oil. They waited to see my expression of fear and terror. I did not move or breathe. The plastic bags did not move. They waited for a while and probably sensed that something was amiss. The police officer with a smaller build ripped the plastic bags apart. I then started to breathe. They did not speak for half a day. I did not utter a sound. They stopped torturing me and carefully monitored my movements. Afterward the officer told me, “I have beaten up many people before and never regretted it. Yet I cannot bear to hit you.”
At the detention center, I saw practitioner Qu Yuping tortured by the same officers from the Yangming Police Department. When they tortured her with mustard oil, they pulled her head back and poured the mustard oil straight into her nostrils. She started to sniff and cry. They also covered her head with plastic bags. As she gasped for breath, she breathed the plastic bag into her nose and mouth, and she couldn't breathe. She bit a layer of plastic bag and was covered with another layer. Due to lack of oxygen, she lost consciousness and the iron chair fell over. Her tormentors removed the bags from her head and poured cold water over her. When she came to, they continued to torture her with mustard oil and plastic bags and pouring cold water on her when she fainted. This was repeated many times.
Tortured in Heilongjiang Women's Prison
On May 10, 2002, I was taken to the No. 2 Detention Center in Mudanjiang. In June I was transferred to the No. 1 Detention Center. In October, Wang Xueshi, Xu Yaoli, and I were sentenced to seven years in prison.
I was sent to Heilongjiang Women's Prison Intensive Training Division in January 2003. The division head was Lu Jinghua, and the deputy was Wang Yali. The surroundings were sparse and decrepit. There were two old buildings. The front building housed the prison cells while the building behind contained the canteen and kitchen.
The intensive training division was on the second floor of the canteen. During the day, it was used as a classroom to play videos of practitioners who had renounced Falun Gong. We were forced to recite the prison rules. At night, it was used as our quarters. There were more prisoners than beds at that time. People slept on desks and chairs.
a. Forced to stand for a long time, deprived of sleep and fed chicken feed
We were given cornmeal with the words “chicken feed” written on the bags. It was used to make buns, which were very gritty and full of sand and broken shells.
Later, the old building was demolished and a new building built in its place. Over 30 people slept in the prison cell. Boards were laid between the beds to create additional sleeping space – it was crammed full. Because all the practitioners in the intensive training division refused to recite the prison rules, we were made to stand for long hours every day. We could not sleep before midnight. At 4 a.m, we had to get up and sit in the classroom.
b. Forced labor, monitored, denied family visits and phone calls, forbidden to buy things from the store
A month later, I was transferred to the Fourth Team in the Fifth Division. Falun Gong practitioners were not allowed to talk to each other, and four criminal convicts took turns, each watching one practitioner. They slept with us, went with us when we used the toilet, and at night one stood on duty. Not only were we practitioners forbidden to talk to each other, we could not even smile at or greet each other.
There was a door in the old building. One had to go through this door to get outside to buy things, take a phone call, or see visitors. To get through the door, we had to say: “Prisoner so-and-so has committed such-and-such crime and asks for permission to go through this door.” If we refused to “admit” that we were “guilty,” we were not allowed to buy things, see visitors, or make phone calls. Later, when the door was removed, we had to recite a similar phrase to gain entry into the reception room. Hence, we were never allowed to see visitors. The guards used this to damage our relationship with our family members, who thought we were heartless, and consequently they misunderstood us.
We were often bullied by the convicts who abused or criticized us at will. We were also pushed about. The prisoners could lodge complains against us with the guards at any time and as a result we would be tortured. In a room filled with practitioners we were forbidden to talk or exchange things. Other prisoners could go in and out of any room. At break times, they could go downstairs, but practitioners could not.
During the day, practitioners had to do forced labor. I think we made either prison or police uniforms. However, to reap greater profits, the prison struck a deal with clothing factories and secretly made coats, bras, blankets, and other garments. Sometimes, for no rhyme or reason, we had to work overtime. Practitioner Yu Libo became so exhausted from the workload that she developed abdominal and lung tuberculosis. She was constantly detained in the sick area. After she was released, she never recovered and passed away.
Everyone had to start work at 5 a.m. and we finished work at different times. One group finished at 10 p.m., another group at midnight, while some worked till 1 or 2 a.m. Before I arrived, sometimes practitioners worked for a week in the factory non-stop and were not allowed to go back to their quarters to sleep. If they were tired, they slept bent over the machines.
Guards conducted roll call every night. Sometimes this was done in each cell, other times in the corridor. You had to kneel down after you were counted, and when everyone was accounted for, we had to say “Thank you, Party.” If our voices were too soft, that would not do and we'd have to say it again. We were also forced to wear name plates on our chests.
c. Shocked with electric batons, frozen, beaten, forced to sit on a tiny stool for long hours
Practitioners in every division tried to resist the persecution by refusing to do slave labor, wear name badges, take part in roll call, squat, wear the uniform, etc., so the guards and other prisoners tortured us. Some practitioners were hung up by handcufs for over a month. Many were put in solitary confinement. Later on, we all went on strike together and refused to do slave labor. This time we were successful and we stopped working.
Instigated by the guards, a team of burly convicts tormented us. They tagged along behind the guards who did the roll call. When we refused to squat and cooperate at roll call, they would punch and kick us or lift us up and throw us down. Every day they did this diligently. They tormented me every day because I refused to squat and call out my name. Zhang Sixia, who was in the same prison cell as me and known as the leader, also joined them in beating me.
On October 1, prisoner Li Mei tricked me into going to the toilet and five prisoners rushed forward from behind and held me down on the ground. They kicked and beat me. When I returned to the cell, my eyes were bleeding and swollen. My face sustained injuries and my body was badly injured. My right ribs hurt unbearably, and I could not exert myself. For a month, I could not turn over in bed.
d. A round of intense persecution
From November 26 to December 2, 2003, we were subjected to a brutal form of torture known as “drill practice.”
On November 26 in the afternoon, we practitioners sat in the meditation position in the middle of the factory in silent protest. This was because practitioner Yang Xiuhua had been bound to the toilet in the factory by prisoner Wang Daiqun. Her clothes were stripped off, leaving her only in her underwear. The prisoners opened the doors and windows so that she would freeze.
Division head Wu Yanjie collaborated with male guards in the prison's Anti-riot Division to persecute us. She instructed the convicts to do whatever it took to get us downstairs from the factory room on the fourth floor. They lifted, dragged, and pulled us downstairs. Some practitioners were rolled down the flights of stairs. I was dragged down from the fifth floor. Wang Liang, a tall guard from the Anti-riot Division, blocked the entrance. When he learned that I was a Falun Gong practitioner, he began to beat me. I could not see anything afterwards. The guard then went on to beat other practitioners. I sat at the entrance with another practitioner and refused to move. Wang Daiqun and several convicts dragged me over to the other practitioners, and all of us were taken to the building behind the prison.
Guards Wang Liang and Yang Zifeng supervised and cursed at us at the same time. Wang kicked practitioner Fei Lianzhi, who is in her 60s, because she walked slowly. This older lady fell down on the snow-covered ground. Wang Liang was going to kick her again, so I shouted, “Stop kicking her!” He cursed and dashed towards me. I said to him sternly, “Don't you see that she's old? How can you still kick her?” He left me alone and shifted his attention to practitioner Zhang Chunjie, who was behind. I shouted, “Don't hit her, she has a heart problem.” He did not move.
We were taken to the vacant building behind the prison quarters. Every guard and prisoner held a bamboo stick. I saw the office administrator, Yang Libin. I said, “I would like to speak to you.” She said she had no time. I told the guards I would like to speak to division head Wu Yanjie. They said she was not around. I spoke to guard Cheng Xiuyan. Practitioner Liu Guihua spoke to deputy division head Tao Shuping, who was very unreasonable. We did not get an acceptable answer, so everyone stood in the freezing cold till past 4 p.m. We were taken back to our cells when the guards wanted to go home. We were made to sit on tiny stools in the corridor of the first floor. At night, guards Sun Lisong and Qiu Yan took practitioners Li Ping, Liu Guihua, and Yan Shufen outside, where inmates beat them with their shoes and bamboo sticks, then left them in the freezing cold.
On November 29 th , we began to recite Lunyu together to resist the persecution. The gate opened, and guard Yang Zifeng dashed in like a lunatic. He was followed by male and female police officers. Practitioners locked arms tightly, retreating to the window at the end of the corridor. Yang Zifeng held something like a rubber hose, dashed towards us, and whipped and kicked us. Practitioner Liu Guihua snatched the hose out of his hand and threw out the window. They tried to pull us out. We held onto each other and shouted. Li Ping was dragged away by Yang Zifeng, who viciously beat and kicked her. Huang Liping was also pulled away and fell down. She had a relapse of her heart problem and fainted.
After we were separated, the officers charged to the other side of the corridor. Yang Zifeng used a small stool we sat on to hit us. Elderly practitioner Ma Aijiao used her body to protect the younger practitioners from the beating. Yang Zifeng picked up a plastic stool and smashed Ms. Ma over the head repeatedly, like a madman. Blood streamed down her head onto practitioners Chu Li, Hu Xiuyan, and others.
A female officer from the Anti-riot Division grabbed Yang Zifeng from behind and after a while managed to stop him. Ma Aijiao was locked up alone in a small isolation cell. She was shackled to rings on the ground and left alone, unconscious, for four days and nights. According to her, when she was released from solitary, she had over 30 injuries that had begun to close up, including huge scars in seven to eight places, and stitches in several parts of her body.
The torture got worse. Every morning at just past 5, we were pulled outside into the freezing cold. Our hats, scarves, and gloves were thrown away. Officer Yang Zifeng made everyone stand up straight, hands placed on the seams of our pants, fingers straight. If anyone was not straight, he would kick her. He made everyone roll up their sleeves above the elbow. He kicked practitioner Xu Xianping's hands till they bled and told her not to move. If she moved, he would continue to kick her. Xu Xianping's hands developed three lumps filled with blood. The first section of her little finger became disabled. Practitioner Du Guijie spoke up for other practitioners and they took her coat. It was the coldest time of the year in the northern region of China, and our tormentors wore two layers of thick jackets. The guards were dressed in coats with heavy jackets on top. Yet they were still shivering.
During the day, we could only go to the toilet once. After standing for long hours, our legs were so stiff we could not bend them when using the toilet. We could not take our meals into the room and had to eat outside. We had a plastic bag to hold the rice and nothing else. We had to use our bare hands to scoop out the rice.
A prisoner who was instructed to watch over Zhang Chunjie took pity on us and secretly stuffed her fish into the bag of rice. Unfortunately she was discovered, and Wu Yanjie slapped her in the face. Points used to reduce her sentence were taken off, too. Consequently all the prison inmates were afraid to look at us or greet us. After a convict nodded and smiled at us, she was summoned to the office by Wu Yanjie, who gave her two slaps in the face as well as a dressing down. A meeting was held where inmates were warned not to help Falun Gong practitioners or else they would be punished.
Subsequently we were each given half a bun to eat. We still had to stand outside to eat and weren't allowed to go back inside until 4 p.m. We continued to stand until 10 p.m and only then could we go into the corridor. After that, we had to squat. We had to sit on the ceramic tile floor and weren't allowed to sleep until 2 a.m. I remember that practitioner Wang Wenrong refused to cooperate, and she was taken to the coldest part of the room. They made her squat and then stand repeatedly. She was tortured for an entire day.
In the morning on November 30, I was called out to stand in line. I did not budge and told them sternly, “I will not submit to the persecution. What you are doing is against the law.” They reported this to division head Wu Yanjie. She ordered the inmates to drag me outside. Liu Wenge and Liu Yumei dragged me by my clothes. Wu Yanjie struck my face with a small electric baton. They continued to pull me outside. My shirt collar was pulled tight around my neck, and I had difficulty breathing, as if I were going to suffocate.
Because I refused to stand in the freezing cold, they took me to the coldest part of the room. Guard Tao Shuping ordered me to squat. When I refused, she ordered Wang Daiqun to kick me behind the knee and I sat down. She then ordered the inmate to pull me up, kicked me there again, made me squat, and sit down. I refused to squat and was lifted up and made to stand. They kicked me and I had to sit. Wang Daiqun pulled me up and down like this for a long time. Tao Shuping ordered Wang Daiqun to tie my arms behind my back with a rope and used yellow tape to tape my mouth. Finally they were exhausted from torturing me. Tao Shuping said I could sit down and ordered me to straighten my legs. I immediately curled up both legs before she could step on them. Every time she tried to step on my legs I would curl them up. She was very angry and kicked me several times. In the end she ran out of ways to torment me and angrily left. It was snowing that day, and I had to sit on the freezing ground.
Tao Shuping then ordered guard Sun Lisong to torture me. She held a bamboo stick in her hand and lectured me. She told prison inmates to bring a chair over. She sat on the chair and stepped on my thighs with both feet. I lost my balance and I had to lean backwards. It was a very strenuous position and she saw that I was in great pain. She touched my shoulder with the bamboo stick and tried to push me down further. I struggled to sit up. This went on for quite a while before she pushed me down. She kept her feet on my thighs. She said this kept her warm. I sat on the ground for one whole day. At night I was allowed to go back into the corridor on the first floor, where I sat till 2 a.m.
Guard Tao Shuping goaded convict Wang Yupo to hack at my already very short hair as a way to humiliate me. Prisoner Li Mei also cut off several chunks.
Li Mei lashed my hands with a bamboo stick. Because my hands were tied behind my back, she first hit my palms, then turned them over to whip the backs of my hands. When I did not scream or cry out in pain, she muttered to herself, “I will whip your fingers one by one and move on to flog the backs of your fingers.” That night when I climbed up to my bed on the upper bunk level, I could not grasps the railings because my hands were so swollen. The pain was excruciating. All my nails were broken. The next day when I ate my lunch, I could not hold my chopsticks. I tried to straighten my fingers and a wave of pain went straight to my heart. The pain in my heart was spasmodic. I knelt onto the ground in pain, clutching my chest for quite some time before I caught my breath.
I was forced to sit in the backyard for two or three days in a row. In the end, the guards stopped hiding what they were doing and we were brought to the front yard, where the persecution continued. The “drill practice” went on for one week but it truly felt like a month to me.
On December 5, Sun Lisong ordered inmates to take off Zhao Yalun's and my jackets so that we would freeze. Without waiting for the guards to show up or give any orders, convict Liu Wenge started to reprimand and kick practitioners. Once I sat on the ground and a guard came out of the building. Liu Wenge instantly kicked me below my left breast. I was in such pain that I could not move for quite a while. It took me more than a month before I could turn over or breathe without pain.
The guards hoped that brutality and fear would make us renounce our faith. However, neither they nor the convicts could keep it up. Several convicts came down with fever and had to be put on an IV drip. Initially the guards planned to make us continue doing the slave labor, but this never happened. The guards and convicts were surprised by our unwavering faith. One convict used to be quite stubborn and often made me do this and that. After the “drill practice,” she said, “Even the government cannot do anything to you, so how can I?” Another convict proclaimed in front of everyone, “I don't know your Master, but He has so many disciples who follow His teachings so steadfastly that I take my hat off to Him. Which Party official has earned that kind of loyalty? All of them are traitors.”
On May 9, 2009, I was released.
Going to Beijing to Appeal, Arrested, Detained, and Extorted for Money
After the persecution began, I took a train to Beijing on March 18, 2000, to appeal for justice for Falun Gong. I was accompanied by two practitioners. In Shanhaiguan, the police were checking IDs in an attempt to prevent practitioners from going to Beijing. One of my companions was taken off the train. Another practitioner, her seven-year-old son, and I arrived in Beijing safely.
The three of us did the second exercise in a circle on Tiananmen Square on March 19. We were arrested and put into a police vehicle by officers patrolling the area. When the vehicle was filled with a dozen practitioners, we were taken to a police station. We were taken to a hotel by officials from Daqing City liaison office in Beijing. The practitioner who was arrested at Shanhaiguan was also taken to the same hotel.
Next, representatives from our workplaces and local police stations came for three of us. There were a dozen of them, and they took the opportunity to tour Beijing for two days. During the day, officials from the liaison office watched us. Several days later we were take back to our residential police stations. I was taken to the Huoju Police Station, which issued a document for 15 days of detention, and then transferred me to Sartu District Detention Center. I was held in custody for 20 days and my family demanded that I be released. The detention center extorted money from my family before releasing me.
I went to Beijing again on April 29, 2000. This time I went alone. On my last trip, I had seen a practitioner raising a banner and shouting, “Falun Dafa is great,” which really touched me. I decided that I would unfurl a banner this time, too, but I was at a loss as to how to make a banner. I bought a ticket to get to the city gate tower and waited there for a practitioner to hold a banner. I could then join him or her. Because I waited for a long time, the soldiers on duty noticed me. They took me down the stairs and then to the police station.
After that, Wang Litian, team head of Daqing carpet factory where I used to work, and officers from Huoju Police Station bribed the Beijing police with 3,000 yuan so that records of my visits to Beijing would be erased. They did this because the government had a policy of punishing the provincial and city officials if Falun Gong practitioners from the province or city were arrested in Beijing for making appeals. It was therefore common practice for provincial and city officials to bribe the Beijing police to remove the names of practitioners who had gone to Beijing.
This time I was detained for 15 days, but when I was due to be released, they extended it another two months. Two months later, they extended my detention for another two months. So long as I refused to give up the practice, I would not be released.
On June 18, 2000, practitioners gathered at Tieren Square in Daqing City to do the exercises. More than a hundred practitioners were arrested. The detention centers in nearby districts could not accommodate them all, and some were sent to rural areas.
It was exceptionally hot that summer, and the air was thin. There was no room to move in the cell. Every day we were given salt water for soup and sometimes the rice was hardly cooked. Many practitioners became ill and some had symptoms such as heart problems, high blood pressure, etc. Zhang Tieyan suddenly passed away in that terrible place. I was sent home due to abnormal symptoms.
I didn't think that I'd ever get out alive!
Summary of Key Persecution Facts:
Name : Yang Guanghui (朱秀敏) Gender : Female Age : 41 Address : Unknown Occupation : Employee at Daqing Wool Blanket Factory Date of Most Recent Arrest : May 8, 2002 Most Recent Place of Detention : Heilongjiang Women's Prison (黑龙江省女子监狱) City : Harbin Province : Heilongjiang Persecution Suffered : Electric shock, sleep deprivation, forced labor, brainwashing, illegal sentencing, beatings, imprisonment, solitary confinement, torture, extortion, physical restraint, interrogation, detention