(Minghui.org) Police in Hegang City, Heilongjiang Province illegally arrested hundreds of Falun Gong practitioners in the first half of 2002. About one third of them were sentenced to imprisonment and detained in the Hegang No. 1 Detention Center. When the police found practitioners who had been forced to leave home, their relatives also suffered persecution. For example, when Ms. Yang Meizhen was arrested, her younger sister, Ms. Yang Meijuan, was also sentenced to two years in prison.

The following is one practitioner's eyewitness account of the atrocities committed in the No. 2 Detention Center in Hegang.

Torture with Iron Bars

I was detained in the Hegang Detention Center. One day in June 2002, I heard the clanking of iron bars coming from the yard of the No. 2 Detention Center, which was next to the Hegang Detention Center. The turkeys and dogs raised there were also disturbed, and made a lot of noise. The noise went on for half a day and I wondered what was happening.

A few days later, I was transferred to the No. 2 Detention Center. I was shocked by the scene when I stepped into the cell. The wide bed was crowded with people, and two rows of practitioners sat on the floor. Each of them was handcuffed and their hands were then chained to one of their feet. An iron bar was placed between their feet, spreading them wide apart, to exert more pain on the practitioners. I realized then that the noises I heard earlier were from these iron bars being fastened to the practitioners.

Fifty-three practitioners were subjected to this torture for days, some for 17 days in a row. Even today, when I think of that miserable scene I cannot hold back my tears.

Torture reenactment: Tortured with an iron bar

Inhuman Persecution

Many of the practitioners in our cell were older ladies. Ms. Xie Xianglan was in her 70s and Ms. Kong Zhaoqin was in her 60s. Although they were not tortured with iron bars, the daily scene of fellow practitioners being tortured this way caused them just as much mental torment.

Criminal inmates were assigned to constantly monitor practitioners so that they couldn't do the Falun Gong exercises or close their eyes.

Some inmates soaked hand towels in water, then wrung them out on top of practitioners' heads. The water ran into the practitioners' clothes, soaking them, but they were not allowed to change.

Slapping practitioners' faces with slippers was a common practice. Vicious guard You Jie hit practitioners violently with a rubber tube, until practitioner Ms. Lu Yuanqiu passed out.

Torture reenactment: Slapping face with a shoe

It was very hard for practitioners tortured with iron bars to use the restroom without help from others. In order not to bother anyone, they ate and drank very little.

When fellow practitioners helped them change clothes, the sleeves and the sides of their clothes had to be cut open. They could only drape the clothing over their shoulders.

One practitioner's buttocks developed sores that became infected from sitting on a small stool for lengthy periods of time. The guards pulled her pants down and forced her to lie on her stomach in bed. Male guards came for inspection every day while she lay there naked.

Practitioner Ms. Chen Pingzhen was in her 40s. Her entire back was covered with festering sores after being violently beaten with a rubber tube by guard You Jie. She also could no longer walk as a result of being chained for a long time.

Ms. Yao Yulian's Ordeal

Ms. Yao Yulian was in her late 30s. She began running a high fever for days and coughed badly, but the detention center took no notice of her condition.

One day, her temperature went so high that she started twitching and clenched her teeth. The detention center doctor came and told us to pry open her mouth with chopsticks and rub her body with alcohol. Ms. Yao seemed to suffer a skin disease and the pustules broke open wherever we rubbed. She twitched for a long time, but the guards refused to send her to the hospital for treatment.

Ms. Yao suffered more convulsions, which got worse each time. The guards still refused to send her to the hospital until the doctor complained and Ms. Yao passed out.

The next day, guard Wu Yan brought Ms. Yao back to the cell and we learned that there were orders from their superiors that Falun Gong practitioners were not allowed medical parole.

Ms. Yao's condition deteriorated. She coughed up blood and kept running a high fever. Each day she was taken to the hospital for an injection and her family had to pay all the expenses. Ms. Yao's elder brother eventually got her released on bail after he spent a lot of money.

Ms. Yao's husband was a coal miner who had died in a gas explosion. His family had only received 17,000 yuan for compensation from the corrupt authorities. Ms. Yao had to struggle along on her own, with their child. Even so, she was sentenced to three years of forced labor and persecuted until she was barely alive.

Mr. Guo Xingguo Was Tortured to Death

Mr. Guo Xingguo was one of the practitioners arrested in 2002 and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Due to his poor physical condition, he was twice rejected by Harbin Prion and returned to the detention center. When the head of the detention center reported his case to his superior, Kong Lingyan, also head of the 610 Office in Xing'an District, Kong blocked the medical parole in every possible way, saying, “He must be locked up in jail even if he dies!” Mr. Guo Xingguo was taken to Hulan Prison and kept there until he was nearly dead. He passed away a few days after he was sent home.

Other Cases of Persecution

Ms. Zhang Shuxia was detained in the detention center for 6 months. Her husband almost sold their house in order to come up with the money to get her out.

When her term was due at the end of the 6 months, police officers Wang Cai and Zhang Tao came again to interrogate Ms. Zhang and tried to force her to sign a statement renouncing Falun Gong. Wang Cai said to her, “The CCP's 16th Congress is over and Falun Gong practitioners are labeled as political criminals. Your daughter's education will also be affected.” Ms. Zhang said, “By law there needs to be evidence of wrongdoing. We have committed no crimes.” The police burst out laughing, “What evidence do we need in dealing with Falun Gong?”

They transferred Ms. Zhang Shuxia to the No. 1 Detention Center. On the day of her trial, the lawyer hired by her family was not allowed to appear in court. There was nothing the lawyer could do so he returned the legal fees to her husband. Ms. Zhang's husband had to pay the chief judge 2,000 yuan to have her term reduced from four years in prison to two.

Seventy-one-year-old Ms. Xie Xianglan was arrested from her home and taken directly to the detention center. She was later sentenced to three years of forced labor.

Ms. Wang Xiuzhi used to suffer all kinds of illnesses. Through practicing Falun Gong, all her health problems disappeared. After she was taken to the detention center, she suffered a relapse of stomach disease due to the poor quality of food. She started vomiting every day. In the end she could not eat anything and vomited blood. Still, the detention center refused to release her. Her daughter was allowed to carry her home only when she was dying.

Ms. Kong Zhaoqin, in her 60s, slipped in the restroom and had a heart attack. She had a convulsion and was foaming at the mouth. It was several hours before the detention center called an ambulance to take her to the hospital.

Moldy corn flour was used to make steamed buns for detainees at the No. 2 Detention Center. The flour was spread out on the ground in the open, where pigeons and dogs ran around on it. People became ill every day from eating the awful food. Even when some practitioners were in life-threatening condition, they were still not released.

The guards said to their family members, “If you want to save your loved ones you'd better try to get them to Jiamusi Forced Labor Camp, and once they are there, you can try to get them out on medical parole.” Desperate family members were deceived by this lie and spent a lot of money to try to get their loved ones transferred to the forced labor camp from the detention center.