An Exceptional Experience: Life in Prison Since the Age of 17
(Minghui.org) A young woman killed her brother-in-law and was sentenced to life. Her mother received the same sentence, because she took the blame for the accidental killing.
Only 17, the young woman found prison to be a rough place and changed for the worse. Then she found Falun Gong.
Despite torture, she has remained steadfast and brought others to the practice.
An Appalling New Life
Ms. Feng Shurong's abusive brother-in-law charged into her home one terrible day. She and other members of her family fought with him and in the tussle Ms. Feng killed him.
Her mother tried to take full blame for the killing during the trial, but the court sentenced both of them to life in prison in June 1992.
Ms. Feng and her mother were sent to Heilongjiang Women's Prison. One night in 1993 in a dream, she saw a ladder reaching up into the heavens. She heard a voice, which said that she would be saved in five years.
Prison was a hard place. To protect herself and her mother, Ms. Feng learned how to fight. If someone offended her, she would plan and wait for the best moment to get back at the person in the worst possible way.
The guards protected her and seemed to believe her excuses for her actions. Soon no one dared to provoke her. Inside herself, however, she felt that she had become a low-life, waiting to be destroyed.
Prisoners were forced into long hours of intensive work. For 16 hours a day, they stood in one position. They ate poorly. The terrible conditions made Ms. Feng's spine deform and she was later paralyzed.
In 1998, a Falun Gong practitioner in the prison lent her a copy of Zhuan Falun, the book of Falun Gong's main teaching. Ms. Feng read the book during the month of June. The day she finished, Ms. Feng said the book “explained everything on heaven and earth.”
That day—July 1, 1998—was exactly five years since she heard the voice in her dream.
Ms. Feng did the Falun Gong exercises the best she could. Her bones made cracking sounds when she did them.
One day a practitioner who was illegally imprisoned forgot some personal items before she left to do forced labor. Ms. Feng found them and ran to bring them to the practitioner. It was then that she realized that she was no longer paralyzed.
Ms. Feng’s mother later became a practitioner, as well.
Ms. Feng was scheduled for release in 1999, a year after she started to practice. In that year, the communist regime began the persecution.
She refused to renounce her belief and her term was arbitrarily prolonged. She and other practitioners were tortured in the most brutal ways.
One practitioner was placed in solitary confinement for eight months. Another was shocked with electric batons until her flesh was badly burnt and her teeth fell out.
Ms. Feng planned to exercise with other practitioners to celebrate Master Li's birthday on May 13. When the guards found out, Ms. Feng was taken to the guardroom and beaten until she was barely recognizable.
Another time Ms. Feng was put in solitary confinement and handcuffed to the floor. A group of 12 or more guards took turns kicking her. She lost consciousness and woke up in a pool of her blood.
The warden once warned her that if she didn't give up her practice, the guards would maim and kill her.
Long Term Solitary Confinement
The solitary confinement cell at the prison has only a urinal and an iron ring in the floor. There is no bed and no window. When handcuffed to the ring, a prisoner can neither lay down nor sit up.
There is no heat during Heilongjiang province's cold winters—the walls are covered in hoar frost. In summer the cell is stuffy and humid. Mold grows on everything, including clothing.
When Ms. Feng was in solitary confinement, she was handcuffed to the ground and her feet were shackled to a railing. She went on a hunger strike to protest the abuse. The guards forced fed her with an over-sized tube inserted into her stomach.
Once nine practitioners, including Ms. Feng, were placed in solitary confinement at the same time. Each person was given two bowls of watery porridge a day. Everyone was constantly hungry and cold. Ms. Feng once thought of eating an insect she found in the cell.
Seventy days later they were released. None could walk or even lift up their heads. They were carried out on a stretcher one by one. When Ms. Feng left solitary, she weighed 66 pounds and her blood pressure was down to 30 mmHg.
In the middle of winter, the guards took all personal clothing from the practitioners and left them with only the prison uniform. They were not given comforters or blankets. No one could sleep through the night, as it was too painful to sleep in the cold.
Chinese law stipulates that a prisoner can stay in solitary for no more than 15 days. The practitioners at Heilongjiang, however, were locked up for months at a time. Ms. Feng spent 1,006 days in confinement from 2001 to 2003.
The relentless torture took the lives of many practitioners. Ms. Wang Ying died during force feeding when the tube penetrated her lung. She died of asphyxiation.
Ms. Zhang Yanfang was locked in confinement for a total of four years. Severely underweight, she died from repeated torture.
Authorities Learn the Truth
Whether a prison received a good evaluation or the wardens got promoted depended on how many practitioners they could force to give up their belief. When torture couldn't change the practitioners, the authorities tried to trick them with mind games.
During all the deceptive talks, Ms. Feng told the authorities what the persecution was really about. She spoke to Deputy Warden Cong Xin and had him read Zhuan Falun four times. Cong would not to force her to give up the practice and he was later transferred.
Wei Xuepeng, the new deputy warden, threatened Ms. Feng and tried to talk her into renouncing Falun Gong. Wei had dozens of guards with electric batons standing by as he spoke to her. In front of everyone, Ms. Feng told him about how the Chinese regime lied about Falun Gong in order to justify the persecution.
She then told everyone about the health benefits of the practice, and used herself and other practitioners as examples. She explained why practitioners risked their lives just to make people understand the persecution.
Everyone quietly listened to her for five hours. In the end she was not punished, but instead given food.
Once Warden Sun Shulan offered Ms. Feng the choice of any ward. She could do any forced labor she wanted—if only she’d give up Falun Gong. Ms. Feng told the warden not to get her hopes up and returned to her original confinement.
Inmates Learn Falun Gong
Ms. Feng was determined to exercise no matter where she was—her cell, in the hallway, or in solitary confinement. An inmate who watched Ms. Feng around the clock reported Ms. Feng to the guards when she did the Falun Gong exercises. The inmate was so moved by Ms. Feng’s determination that she eventually decided to cover for Ms. Feng and later became a practitioner herself.
One day a prisoner declared in public that she would begin practice Falun Gong. A guard scolded her for this, and the prisoner told the guard about an amazing sight. She said that she saw dragons on practitioner Ms. Zheng Guiqin when she exercised.
Ms. Zheng had been paralyzed for 17 years when she was put in the prison. She almost died in prison at one point. Practicing Falun Gong in the prison gave her a second life.
That night another inmate claimed that she saw the dragons as well. She also decided to practice.
The following is one of Master's articles that Ms. Feng often recited to other inmates:
In the chaotic world, like pure lotus flowers—plum blossoms, a hundred millionCold winds only accentuate their beautyThe interminable snowfall and rainare the tears of gods,Who look longingly for the plum blossoms’ returnNever, ever get preoccupied with worldly thingsSteel your righteous thoughtsFor all [that you have gone through] since ancient times,Was for none other than this time around.
---Plum Blossoms (in Yuan verse) from Hong Yin II.