Businesswoman Jailed a Third Time, Having Been Repeatedly Drugged During Her Previous Incarcerations for Her Faith
(Minghui.org) Her mind went blank when a guard asked her, “Do you still remember me?” The guard had been watching her since she was arrested three months prior. Seeing her dull look, the guard yelled, “You think you are smart? We will brainwash you—until all your memory is wiped out!”
It was in April 2000 when Ms. Guo Chengru was given two years of forced labor for refusing to renounce Falun Gong. She learned later that she had been given unknown drugs during force-feeding that damaged the central nervous system and resulted in her temporary memory loss.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a mind-body practice based on the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. It has been persecuted by the Chinese communist regime since July 1999.
More than 18 years have passed, and Ms. Guo, a 54-year-old resident in Tianjin, has been in and out of detention a few more times for holding firm to her faith. She was given a second forced labor term, for 1.5 years, in November 2002. Two prison terms of 4 years each followed, in September 2004 and December 2009.
Ms. Guo was most recently arrested on August 25, 2017 and sentenced to five years in prison and fined 5,000 yuan in July 2018. As she is still recovering from damage caused by the force-feeding of unknown drugs during her previous incarcerations, her family worries what is in store for her with her latest imprisonment.
Broken Family Reunited
Ms. Guo began practicing Falun Gong in early 1998. At that time, she had a successful wedding photography business at one of the busiest shopping centers in Tianjin. Though she had plenty of money, her marriage was on the brink of divorce. Her husband complained that she didn't care about him and he eventually had an extramarital affair.
Reading Zhuan Falun, the main teachings of Falun Gong, was a turning point for Ms. Guo and her family. She agreed with the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance and recognized the importance of being considerate of others. As her personality improved, she let down resentment towards her husband's betrayal and began to look after him as well as kept the house organized.
Noticing these changes, her husband asked what happened. Ms. Guo explained to him about Falun Gong and he was very impressed. “This meditation can change you like that—it must be very good. Please keep it up!” The family was reunited and everyone was happy about the new beginning.
Drugged During First Labor Camp Detention
Ms. Guo was arrested in Shanghai in late January 2000. After spending nearly three months at a detention center, she was given two years of forced labor in Qingpu Labor Camp. The guards there hung her high in the hallway to torture her in May 2000, from 5:00 a.m. until midnight every day. In less than a month, her feet were too swollen to fit into her shoes and her hands were swollen like two loaves of bread.
The guards later force-fed her through her nose. She didn’t know at first that they had added nerve-damaging drugs to the milk. But during each force-feeding, the guards asked her questions, such as her son's name and her home address, and carefully observed her reaction. In addition, someone was assigned to keep a record of her, including what time she used the toilet and what time she said something.
Force-feeding like this went on for a month. As the drug amount increased inside her body, her reaction slowed down and she looked dull. In the end, she was unable to speak, just crying every day with dizziness. She did whatever others asked her to do. When the guards asked her what she wanted to eat, her mind was blank and could only murmur that she did not know.
In those days, Ms. Guo was unable to think, write, or express herself. She did not even know how to smile. One day, an inmate gave her a book to read. She opened her mouth for a long time, with no words coming out. Seeing her situation, the inmates and other Falun Gong practitioners in the same cell cried in sympathy for her. She looked at them and didn’t know why they were crying.
Ms. Guo was 36 years old that year. Prior to the persecution, she was young, beautiful, and healthy. But the nerve-damaging drugs turned her from a savvy businesswoman into a dull-looking person who had no cognitive ability or memory.
When her labor camp term expired on March 31, 2002, Hexi Police picked her up from Shanghai and held her at a police station in Tianjin. During an interrogation for the entire morning, officers took turns asking her about things, from Falun Gong to her daily life. She could only murmur three words, “I don't know.” Despite her poor condition, officials sent her to a brainwashing center inside Banqiao Labor Camp where she was held for 50 days. They also extorted 12,000 yuan from her former workplace, where she worked before she started her own business, to cover the brainwashing cost.
When her sister picked her up on April 29, she was unable to speak and was disoriented. She could eat but did not know the taste. When she went out, someone needed to accompany her. Otherwise, she could not find her way home.
Forced Divorce During Second Labor Camp Detention
Ms. Guo was taken to the local police station in the summer of 2002, where more than ten officers attempted to force her to divorce. She refused to comply.
Officers from Youyi Police Station arrested her on November 6, 2002, and took her to a brainwashing center. She was transferred to Hexi Detention Center after nine days, from where she was moved to labor camp detention with a term of 18 months.
Accompanied by a judge and a clerk, Ms. Guo's husband visited her in August 2003 for divorce. He was given sole custody of their son. The house she purchased from her business profit also went to her husband.
Drugged Again in Prison
Ms. Guo was arrested again not long after she finished serving her second forced labor term. She was sentenced to a four-year prison term in September 2004. A second four-year prison term followed in December 2009. Both times she was ordered to serve time at the Tianjin Women's Prison.
When Ms. Guo went on a hunger strike to protest her imprisonment, guards instructed inmates to force-feed her. As she had been force-fed for over a month following her first arrest back in 2000, her nasal cavity was still swollen. But the prison guards and inmates still tried to insert a thick and hard plastic tube into her nose, which caused excruciating pain. Seeing the tube not going in after many attempts, they pinched her nose to force her to open her mouth. They then force-fed her through the mouth. They sometimes dragged her to a small balcony with no security camera and force-fed her there.
By then, Ms. Guo only weighed 68 pounds. The lengthy torture from guards and inmates, the extreme physical pain, the excessive mental pressure, along with the nerve-damaging drugs, led to her mental breakdown. She occasionally screamed angrily and hysterically, and sometimes removed all her upper clothes and yelled loudly.
In March 2011, because Ms. Guo refused to write a monthly thoughts summary, guards took her to a storage room, where five officers interrogated her. The division manager shouted at her. Ms. Guo was having her period at the time and she asked to use the toilet, which the manager didn't allow.
Ms. Guo asked, “Using the toilet is a basic need and you are a woman, too. Why can't I use it?” The manager then sprayed pepper spray at her eyes, blinding her for over 30 minutes as tears streamed down her face.
Latest Arrest and Third Imprisonment
Despite her ordeal, Ms. Guo never wavered in her faith, as no law in China criminalizes Falun Gong. Her efforts to exercise her constitutional right to freedom of belief landed her in police custody again, most recently on August 25, 2017.
She was given criminal detention two weeks later, on September 7. The Hexi Court had scheduled a hearing for December 1, 2017, but they had to cancel it at the last minute. Her lawyer soon learned that the detention center guards had trouble getting Ms. Guo into a car, as she firmly refused to be taken to the courtroom.
Ms. Guo was finally tried at the Hexi Detention Center on March 29, 2018. Only her attorney was allowed to attend the hearing. She told the judge that there was nothing wrong with following the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance to become a better person. Her attorney entered a not guilty plea for her and stated that freedom of belief is protected by the Chinese Constitution.
A Family in Misery
Ms. Guo is still reeling from the damage she suffered during her previous detentions. When far away from home, she sometimes can’t find her way back. She also can’t remember her phone number. According to her parents, due to the abuse during detention, she occasionally still loses control of herself.
Ms. Guo's parents, both Falun Gong practitioners nearly 80 years old, suffered even more torment. Her father, Mr. Guo Deyou, had been detained three times with his home ransacked six times since 1999. The detention included five years of imprisonment and three years of labor camp detention. His wife, Ms. Han Yuxia, was detained five times, including three and half years of imprisonment, and three years of labor camp detention.
Note: This article was prepared based on interviews over the past several years with Ms. Guo, her family members, and practitioners and non-practitioners detained with her.
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Key Responsible Personnel:
Wang Jian, judge in Hexi District Court, +86-22-58313588Wang, officer in Hexi District Procuratorial Office, +86-22-23132386Taoyuan Police Station of Hexi Police Department, +86-22-23253885