(Minghui.org) After forced labor camps were purportedly abolished in China last year, another system became more prominent in the persecution of Falun Gong: brainwashing centers. The arbitrary nature of these centers—with fewer procedural requirements than forced labor camps or detention centers—makes them an effective weapon in the Party's arsenal for persecuting Falun Gong.
This three-part series focuses on the Xinjin Brainwashing Center in Sichuan Province, also known as the Chengdu Brainwashing Center. About 1,000 practitioners have been detained there since its creation in 2003.
At least 7 deaths and several mental disorder cases as a result of the abuse there have been confirmed. However, the Xinjin Brainwashing Center is just 1 of 157 such known brainwashing centers, as reported by Minghui .
Part one of the series explains how brainwashing centers fit into the overall mechanism of persecution. As with the police and domestic security divisions, where the authorities abuse their power with impunity, brainwashing centers are used to maximize the impact of persecution. The guards and police officers at these centers are allowed, or even encouraged, to torture practitioners at will.
Procedurally, the authorities can send people to the centers for months at a time with virtually no paperwork or any semblance of checks and balances. This makes it an ideal avenue for carrying out the persecution in a covert and arbitrary manner, without going through legal proceedings.
Moreover, brainwashing centers amount to a “feeder system” to prisons and labor camps. Staff members work with the police and domestic security divisions to fabricate evidence in order to send practitioners to prisons or labor camps. Without judicial oversight, guards are able to subject detained practitioners to many forms of abuse.
Simply renouncing one's belief is not enough to get released, however. If the center staff is not satisfied with the brainwashing results demonstrated by the “transformed” practitioners, the practitioners will have to go through the torture again.
Part two discusses the depth of the persecution. In addition to direct forms of physical abuse and torture, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials manipulate friends and family of practitioners, create enormous financial pressure, and uses every other means at their disposal to try to crush the practitioners' wills.
After detaining practitioner Mr. Liu Yingxu, officials took his parents to the brainwashing center and kept them there. They refused to allow any visitation unless Mr. Liu gave up his faith. In addition, officials drugged Mr. Liu. The systematic abuse that attacks a victim from multiple angles aims to destroy a practitioner's spirit completely.
Part three covers the blackmail, torture, and other abuse that take place inside brainwashing centers. The mental abuse is often the most harsh, as it strikes at the practitioners' core belief in Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. It usually involves escalating steps, designed to go from renouncing one's beliefs to betraying the identities of other practitioners.
The 610 Office, the governing body whose sole responsibly is overseeing the systematic persecution of Falun Gong, uses a two pronged approach to the persecution – physical brutality and mental torture.
The Domestic Security Division collects information and fabricates evidence to ensure that practitioners end up in forced labor camps or prisons, while brainwashing centers focus on destroying the practitioners' willpower.
As a common practice, police and brainwashing centers work in collaboration in the persecution of Falun Gong.
Torture re-enactment: Handcuffed behind the back
Because brainwashing centers have virtually no legal parameters, brutal police interrogations are commonplace. For example, Mr. Jiang Yunhong , a former engineer at the Chengdu Air Compressor Factory, was taken to the Xinjin Brainwashing Center on July 22, 2005.
Officers from the Domestic Security Division handcuffed him and tortured him for 7 consecutive days, depriving him of sleep along the way. To keep him awake, the guards constantly beat him—kicking, punching, and slapping him with slats—and then dousing him with water to revive him.
Later, officers from the Domestic Security Division of the Chengdu City Police Department and the local 610 Office took over the task of torturing of Mr. Jiang. His arms were handcuffed behind the back of the chair, and the police yanked him backward by the hair while stepping on his handcuffs at the same time. The pain caused him to black out several times. His wrists were swollen, and later the flesh on his wrists festered.
Mr. Zheng Bin , a factory worker detained in the Xinjin Brainwashing Center in 2005, went through a similar ordeal. When describing the mistreatment he received, Mr. Zheng said: “The police officer shone a bright light straight into my eyes to keep me from sleeping. They made noise or poured cold water on me whenever I closed my eyes. They cuffed my hands behind the chair, punched me in the head, slapped me in the face, and stomped on the handcuffs. An officer shackled my arms together in an awkward position, and I almost passed out from the pain.”
The Xinjin Brainwashing Center follows a set of procedures in detaining and coercing practitioners to give up their beliefs. Once a person acts against his conscience under pressure, it becomes very hard for him sustain his defiance going forward. At that point, officers of the Domestic Security Division can easily step in to obtain information about other practitioners who have yet to be captured.
To maximize the effect of brainwashing, they seldom release someone right after he or she has renounced Falun Gong. Instead, the officials then pressure that person to turn others in, or use them as an example to “transform” others.
Even if a practitioner is released after denouncing his or her belief, the case does not stop there. With past confessions used as evidence, police may detain that person again at the brainwashing center or elsewhere.
When practitioners are taken to the Xinjin Brainwashing Center, police usually have minimal evidence to charge them with. When they are first brought in, brainwashing center officials and guards usually hold numerous “conversations” with them. This usually includes threatening them with lengthy prison sentences, a fate they are told they can avoid only by cooperating with the officials' demands.
Practitioners taken to the Xinjin Brainwashing Center are isolated from the outside world as a first step to break their wills.
Each practitioner is confined to a small room monitored by two guards, day and night. They have no way of communicating with the outside world, aside from the two people who monitor them.
The staff, with careful planning, release tidbits of information to practitioners from time to time. They are designed to stir up fear for themselves or cause them to worry about their family members. Information gathered about the practitioners while they are under around-the-clock surveillance is often used against them.
Meanwhile, a key message is repeatedly emphasized: “You won't get out unless you give up your belief.”
This oppressive and isolated environment creates an immense amount of pressure for the practitioner.
Another tactic is the constant playing of loud noise and CCP propaganda.
Other than the three beds, chairs, and shelves, there is very little room left in the cells where practitioners are detained. They are forced to watch slanderous TV programs blasting at a loud volume for many hours straight. Given the tight quarters and the bedding arrangements, there is no escape from being blasted by the propaganda constantly, even when one tries to sleep at night time. After being subjected to this for a period of time, some practitioners exhibit signs of dizziness and slow reactions.
The imprisoned practitioners are called “students” receiving an “education” as they suffer through this period of brainwashing.
Other approaches include keeping practitioners from closing their eyes and various forms of public humiliation. Individual brainwashing methods are developed in conjunction with the police based on what they know and learn about the detained practitioners.
(To be continued)