New Round of Persecution Initiated by the 610 Office in Urumqi City
(Minghui.org) In November 2013, personnel from the Urumqi City 610 Office initiated a new round of harassment and persecution targeting Falun Gong practitioners. As part of the regime's effort to “transform” practitioners and force them to give up their belief, the 610 Office officials have tried to “certify” practitioners released from the local brainwashing center in 2013 by ordering them to sign a statement promising to never to practice Falun Gong again.
A number of branches have participated in this new round of persecution, including the 610 Offices of Tianshan District, Shayibake District, Xishi District, Midong District, and Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps.
The practitioners were taken to the local residential administration offices, where officials tried to force them to sign the document to renounce their faith. Many of the detained practitioners and their families resisted the persecution by refusing to obey the orders.
Persecution Inside the Brainwashing Center
For years, the Urumqi City 610 Office has detained practitioners in its brainwashing center. The office deploys city and local police, as well as security personnel from community and residential offices, to round up practitioners in various ways. One practitioner told the reporter that police had broken through his door and entered his house. Another practitioner recounted police jumping over his fence and breaking in like bandits.
The brainwashing center run by the Urumqi 610 Office is located at a reclusive building in Nanshan, far away from the city. In the prison-like facility, each practitioner is confined in a room with two “assistants,” who are trained to treat practitioners as criminals. They follow practitioners 24 hours a day and verbally abuse them.
The Urumqi 610 Office has also recruited various people from other regions to help with its persecution efforts, including Zhang Yongjun (former head of the 610 Office in Xinjiang No. 5 Prison), researchers from the Xinjiang Social Science Institute, and former practitioners who turned against Falun Gong under the torturous pressure from the authorities.
In addition to physical abuse, practitioners detained at the brainwashing center were subjected to psychological abuse. After forcing practitioners to watch propaganda videos slandering Falun Gong, officials ordered them to write three statements to renounce their belief. Those who wrote the statements were ordered to read them aloud in front of others.
A staff member in the facility recalled an elderly woman fainting while reading her statement. Even after turning in their statements, these “transformed” practitioners had to step on a portrait of Master Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Gong, before they were freed.
For those who refused to cooperate, the brainwashing center intensified its abuses, including sleep deprivation, more propaganda videos, and constant surveillance and verbal abuse. In protest, a number of practitioners once held a hunger strike.
One practitioner told the reporter that the perpetrators had force-fed her beer and threatened to switch to liquor if she still refused to be “transformed.” Because Falun Gong teachings forbid practitioners from drinking alcohol, this was another form of mental abuse, besides the direct impact on health.
Some practitioners were also taken to forced labor camps and detention centers for prolonged torture.
The Urumqi 610 Office also uses economic sanctions to punish practitioners, such as ordering employers to withhold their paychecks or pensions and refuse to process their retirement benefits. Employers are often pressured to fire employees who practice Falun Gong.
Due to the aforementioned harassment and persecution, practitioners who own businesses often cannot maintain normal operations. Family members are also affected: By association, many are denied promotions or important assignments. Thus, they are also casualties of the persecution.