Same Places, Different Names: China's Notorious Labor Camps Morph into Black Jails
(Minghui.org) After the Inner Mongolia Forced Labor Camp was closed last year, Mr. Su Qinghe, a veteran soldier detained there for his belief of Falun Gong, wasn't released as one might expect. Instead, he was transferred to the Hegang Brainwashing Center in Heilongjiang Province and subjected to further persecution there.
The brainwashing center is a black jail, an extra-legal detention facility where practitioners are tortured and coerced to give up their beliefs.
Like Mr. Su, many Falun Gong practitioners were transferred to brainwashing centers or rehabilitation centers as forced labor camps closed last year.
As far as Amnesty International is concerned, the abolition of labor camps is no more than a “cosmetic change” and “the abuses and torture are continuing, just in a different way.”
They are right.
At least 158 brainwashing centers were in operation in 2013 in 21 out of the 23 provinces, 3 out of the 4 directly governed municipalities, and 3 out of the 5 autonomous regions.
Same Facilities, Different Names
In some cases, a labor camp “closure” simply means a new doorplate. For example, the name of the notorious Masanjia Forced Labor Camp was changed to “Masanjia Compulsory Rehabilitation Center”, and the facility became a branch of Shenyang City Women’s Prison. The same staff work in the same building, carrying out the same persecution policy against practitioners transferred from nearby labor camps or prisons.
During the past 15 years of the persecution, the 610 Office, which was created beyond the framework of Chinese judicial systems, has developed an extensive, mature and institutionalized brainwashing pipeline shared between labor camps and brainwashing centers. The use of violence, physical torture, and psychological tactics to “transform” a practitioner are commonly seen at both places.
With the same staff from the old labor camps working at the newly relabeled centers, practitioners suffer no less physical or mental abuse.
Ms. Chi's family visited her shortly after she was taken to the “Masanjia Compulsory Rehabilitation Center”, only to find that she had completely changed: her face looked pallid and listless, she couldn't lift her head nor open her eyes, and she had no energy to speak.
Continually Evolving Tactics
Brainwashing has always been a large part of the persecution, whether it takes place in prisons, labor camps or brainwashing centers. This next generation of brainwashing centers have come up with new tactics to get around international scrutiny.
Unlike forced labor camps, where one can only be admitted after a set of formal procedures, brainwashing centers are black jails where practitioners can be detained without any due process and for indefinite periods.
Existing outside the legal system, the opening or closure of a brainwashing center doesn't require a public record. Unique for its clandestine nature, brainwashing centers can be set up at hotels, restaurants, residential buildings, or even middle schools for variable lengths of time. The administrative level can range from provincial, municipal, county, township or even a practitioner' work unit, directly or indirectly supervised by the 610 Office.
When necessary, they will appear in the eyes of the public as a “Legal Education Center” or “Drug Rehabilitation Center.” It is described to the outside world as a place of education and positive reform for the “students,” while what happens behind closed doors is an entirely different story.
If a given facility attracts too much international criticism, it can simply be shut down and re-opened under a different name or in a different location.
A case in point was the “Jiansanjiang Brainwashing Center,” which made international headlines earlier this year for detaining human rights lawyers. After its apparent shutdown, it soon re-emerged as Qiqihar Drug Rehabilitation Center.
“Gu Songhai, from the Heilongjiang 610 Office came to the brainwashing center [Qiqihar Drug Rehabilitation Center] in early May to pressure me to renounce Falun Gong. He slapped me 30 times, causing my face to become terribly swollen.
“He picked up a television remote control to continue hitting my face after his palm was sore from slapping. He grabbed my hair and hit my forehead against the wall, and forced me to watch videos that slandered Falun Gong. I was tortured for a week, and was also deprived of sleep. Officer Qian made me stand for a long time, and hit me whenever I tried to bend my knees due to exhaustion. My face was numb, bruised, and swollen.” a practitioner recalled her nightmarish encounter at this new “Qiqihar Drug Rehabilitation Center.”
As U.S. Congressman Christopher Smith sees it, “The communist party believes that the only way it can survive is to stamp out diversity of opinion and belief whenever it occurs. For Falun Gong practitioners, this means renouncing your beliefs and being 'transformed' – through re-education.
“The arbitrary detentions must stop. The slander must stop. The torture must stop. The black jails must close. There should be no organ harvesting from any prisoner in China... perpetrators of the crime against humanity must be held to account.” he said at a recent rally at the U.S. Capitol.
Category: Imprisonment & Forced Labor