(Minghui.org) For upholding her belief in Falun Gong, a Harbin, Heilongjiang woman spent almost seven years in custody over a period of 12 years. From her first arrest in January 2000 to her most recent release in late November 2012, 64-year-old Ms. Zhang Shuzhen was sentenced once to prison and twice to a forced labor camp. This does not consider multiple detentions over this period at various facilities.

Ms. Zhang experienced unimaginable physical and mental abuse while imprisoned. Below recounts her experience since the Chinese Communist Party began to persecute Falun Gong, a self-cultivation practice centering on the principles of “Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.”

When the persecution began, Ms. Zhang decided to speak up for Falun Gong. A few days before the 2000 Chinese New Year, she and two practitioners took a bus from Harbin, intending to go to Beijing. In Beijing, she asked for directions from a stranger and was told to take an underpass to reach the appeals office at Tiananmen Square. At the underpass, she was arrested by a policeman who was waiting for her. The policemen confiscated her identification documents and 4,500 yuan.

Ms. Zhang was taken back to Harbin on March 5 and detained in Acheng Second Detention Center for 72 days. In the detention center, she and other practitioners were beaten by guards every day when they did the exercises together. To stop them from practicing, the guards also interfered in their exercises with a loudspeaker.

Practitioners would write Falun Gong's teachings on paper and passed them among each other. If a guard found the paper, both practitioners would be handcuffed to iron window bars together. Ms. Zhang was tortured this way. The practitioners protested with a hunger strike. Nine days later, the detention center agreed to allow them to do the exercises.

She was released in April. Her father, who was overcome with sorrow because of her arrest, died the following day.

On June 19, Ms. Zhang joined 50 practitioners to go to Acheng Detention Center and demand the release of their illegally-detained fellow practitioners, who were on a hunger strike. The guards took the group aside and called police from the practitioners' homes to take them back. Ms. Zhang was illegally detained again for 45 days and released on August 3.

Wanjia Forced Labor Camp

Ms. Zhang was first arrested on New Year's Day of 2001 by police from Acheng Electronics Company, where she worked. The arrest order was issued by the Acheng District 610 Office. She was detained at Acheng First Detention Center for 18 days and then illegally sent to Wanjia Forced Labor Camp in Harbin for two years. Her son lost his job at the police department because of her arrest.

In the camp, Ms. Zhang suffered brutal persecution; she was beaten, tied up and hung by the arms, forced fed, isolated in solitary, and placed in the all-male section of the camp.

Torture re-enactment: Back hung up by rope

Torture re-enactment: Brutal force-feeding

In May 2001, Ms. Zhang noticed that practitioners placed in solitary were often taken away to be viciously force-fed. She and other practitioners demanded that guards stop this. For speaking up, she and the other practitioners who protested were severely beaten and then tied and hung in the male camp. She was confined in the male camp for 21 days. There, she was forced to stand facing the wall, “reflecting on her mistakes, and at night, sleep on an iron chair. She was not allowed to wash.

In August 2001, Ms. Zhang was again placed in solitary for her refusal to do heavy labor. The solitary room is less than 18 square feet and has no window. Light for the room is reflected from a light bulb in the hallway. The room contains a cage about 32” by 12” by 24” for sleeping. It's impossible to lie down in the cage; one can only pull up the legs to get any rest.

Solitary was a very unsanitary place. Ms. Zhang soon had scabies and pus oozed from all parts of her body; she developed ulcers on her hands. She had a high fever. In addition to her physical pains, she was bombarded with a loudspeaker. She went on a nine-day hunger strike to protest the brutality. Prison officials soon acknowledged that she was near death. The camp released her on September 30, 2001.

After her release, Ms. Zhang could not do the exercises because of her physical condition. She could only lay on the floor face down to listen to Master's Fa teachings. She recovered gradually and was better one month later.

Ms. Zhang had been watched by police from Acheng District 610 Office since her release. One day in January 2003, the police arrested a practitioner who passed by Ms. Zhang's home. The police forced this practitioner to admit that the informational materials they confiscated came from Ms. Zhang.

They arrested Ms. Zhang the same day and sent her to the Acheng First Detention Center. Three months later, she was sent to Wanjia Forced Labor Camp again for three years without the benefit of any legal proceedings. She was released on June 6, 2005.

Four Years in Heilongjiang Women's Prison

Ms . Zhang was last arrested on August 23, 2009 when she distributed informational materials about Falun Gong in the Harbin Nangang District. She was detained at Harbin Second Women's Detention Center and then sentenced to four years in Heilongjiang Women's Prison.

During her detention, Ms. Zhang was repeatedly forced to sit on a small bench without moving. She was deprived of sleep. She could not bear the torture and agreed to give up Falun Gong. She soon developed very painful stomach cramps, which made her bend completely over. She was emaciated and looked as if she had aged overnight. Her deteriorated physical condition hindered her ability to continue forced labor and she was released on November 22, 2012.

Torture re-enactment: Sitting still on a small stool

Ms. Zhang tried Chinese medicines for four months after she was released, but her health deteriorated further. Advised by Falun Gong practitioners, she started to practice Falun Gong again. Her bent back miraculously straighten up one week later. Slowly, she gained back her weight and her health also improved.

Cultivation Leads to Arrests and Imprisonment

Ms. Zhang's cultivation in Falun Gong led to her arrest and detention again and again during a 12-year period. Since she started cultivation in 1996 she has benefited greatly from Falun Gong. When she retired in 1998, she has diligently continued to practice Falun Gong and to tell others about its benefits. When she did this, as recently as 2012, Ms. Zhang has been the target of relentless persecution.