Thirteen Days of Sleep Deprivation
(Minghui.org) Mr. Wang Yonghang, a Falun Gong practitioner and attorney from Dalian City, Liaoning Province, represented and defended several Falun Gong practitioners against charges fabricated by the Chinese regime.
He was arrested by more than 20 police officers in July 2009 and sentenced to seven years in prison. His case was included in the United Nations 2010 Special Rapporteur report on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
The following is Mr. Wang's account of being deprived of sleep for 13 days in the Shenyang No. 1 Prison, which eventually caused him make a forced “confession” on camera.
In 2009, I was sentenced to seven years in prison for publishing several articles that criticized the Chinese Communist regime for violating the rights of Falun Gong practitioners.
While in prison, I suffered vicious beatings, solitary confinement, and starvation; I was deprived of the right to purchase daily necessities. The worst experience, however, was sleep deprivation for 13 consecutive days and nights in 2012.
The prison started a new round of brutality against detained Falun Gong practitioners in early 2012 with the goal to “completely annihilate Falun Gong in prison.”
To put it plainly, the prison intended to use all means possible to try to make us practitioners give up our belief in Falun Gong. In order to stop me from getting in touch with other inmates, the prison moved me to the cafeteria and assigned criminal inmate Zhang Weihui to watch me around the clock. Except for when other inmates came in to eat their three daily meals, the cafeteria was locked.
In late February of 2012, an inmate friend warned me, “One of the wards is forcing Falun Gong practitioners to 'transform'. The method they use is ruthless. You better be careful.” We all understood that a Falun Gong practitioner is “transformed” when he/she gives up his/her belief in Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa.)
Later an inmate leader informed me that his ward was undergoing such a campaign. “They want to eradicate Falun Gong inside the prison and they are merciless. There are only two ways out: be 'transformed' or be dead,” he said. “All but one have signed statements of transformation in my ward—the last one won't be much longer.”
In the following months, I started to hear rumors that Falun Gong practitioners in other wards were being deprived of sleep as a way to force them to give up their belief.
I recalled a conversation I had with Han Dong, captain of Inmate Team Four where I was held before being moved to the cafeteria. He came to the cafeteria one day in March to chat with me.
I asked him about the campaign against practitioners in prison and said to him, “None of us detained practitioners have broken any law. I don't understand why the prison authorities must go after us and try to force us to give up our spiritual belief. Don't you think the decision-maker has some mental problems?”
Han replied, “I also think so.” His reply was a normal response to my question, yet he, along with other team leads, did nothing but follow orders when the higher-ups pressured them to “transform” practitioners.
After the lunch break on May 8, I heard someone calling my name. I saw five guards outside the cafeteria. One of them said to me, “Captain Liu Shuang is waiting for you. He wants to talk to you.” I knew my time had come.
As we walked to the office, I told the guards that such “transformation” is illegal, irrational and meaningless. They said very little. I reminded them, “What you do is your job; how you do it is your conscience.”
Captain Liu was waiting for me. When he saw me, he too, said very little. He indicated we should walk to the interrogation room. As he led me to it, he glanced at me quickly and let out a soft sigh.
When I entered the interrogation room, I noticed that a thick curtain was hung over the door. The room was lit by two large light bulbs but still seemed very dark compared to the outside.
I was told to sit on an iron chair. Once my eyes adjusted to the light, I noticed there were over a dozen people in the room. I also saw about 20 electric batons of various lengths on the window sill.
Yan Tianxiang, the deputy director of the prison’s “Education Section” announced to me, “By the order of the provincial bureau and the prison, you are now forced to go through the ideological transformation. Do you have anything to say?”
“We [Falun Gong practitioners] have not commit any crime. It has been unjust enough to be thrown into prison. Why do you need to continue torturing us like this? What is the point?” I asked him.
He didn't answer my question but ordered me to be secured to the iron chair. My feet were bound at the ankles and my arms were constrained on both sides.
I was left with four inmates and two or three guards in the room. I was shown video programs that defamed Falun Gong. Since I started practicing Falun Gong in 2006, I had watched almost all the programs before. I had verified myself that the information in those videos was not true.
There was one video in particular that talked about how a man named Wang Yusheng carried to and displayed in the U.S. a banner that weighed a few tons and extended several kilometers long. The banner was said to have more than one million Chinese citizens' signatures in support of the Chinese communist regime's persecution of Falun Gong.
I knew all too well how the signatures were collected, as I had been forced to sign my name. I remember it was an afternoon in the spring of 2001, shortly after the staged self-immolation incident took place in Tiananmen Square, when my workplace ordered all employees to attend a meeting.
The leaders read aloud an order and then forced all 1,000 of us to line up and take turns going up on the stage to sign our name on the banner to denounce Falun Gong. Three video cameras recorded the whole process from different angles. Everyone had to take a stand, and no one said no. I, too, didn't have the courage to oppose the persecution and I put my name on the banner against my will.
After a while, even the police thought those videos were not convincing. They decided to only show one video that had nothing to do with Falun Gong.
An inmate sat in front of me to my right side, only half a meter from my face. If my eyes closed for more than three seconds, he would take some actions to wake me up. One inmate named Zheng Jie was particularly vicious; he would hit me on my right rib with a tight fist.
During the first three days, I wasn't given any food. I was taken to the toilet twice. To me, the most difficult part was thirst and sleepiness. The two high-voltage light bulbs shining in front of me made me feel even thirstier.
The inmates watching me were at the ready to punch me to stop me from dozing off. One day, an inmate hit me on my back and ribs when other inmates stepped out. I passed out from the tremendous pain. When I came to, I reported the inmate to Captain Liu, who removed him from my cell one day later.
Starting on the fourth day, I wasn't even allowed to go to the toilet. I was allowed to urinate once a day in my iron chair. I was given 250 ml of water every day. Since I ate so little, I didn't have any bowel movements for the following ten days.
Because the door and windows were all covered, I couldn't tell day from night. I only had a rough idea of what time it was by hearing the footsteps of inmates going out to work in the morning and coming back to their cells in the evening. But I became so disoriented in a few days that I even lost such judgment.
At first, police came in and questioned me. Then they stopped coming because the air had become very bad in the room. One day they set up a video camera about one foot in front of my face. That way, police could see my face clearly from their office. Of course, the camera did not capture the inmate sitting next to me and hitting me whenever I closed my eyes.
I wore a pair of old wool socks. A few days later, the socks became too smelly and were thrown to a corner of the room. When I felt that I could no longer endure the sleep deprivation, I shouted “Falun Dafa is good!”
At those times, they would stuff my mouth with a rag. But inmate Zheng Jie who had hit me before always used my own smelly socks to stuff my mouth. The socks shed terribly and left a lot of lint in my mouth. As I wasn't given much water to drink, I had a really dry mouth and couldn't even spit out the lint.
About six days into the sleep deprivation, I started to experience hallucinations. At first, I could still discern illusions from reality, but later I couldn't. One day, my mind became blank. I tried very hard to remember, but I couldn't think of anything. I couldn't remember who I was or whether I had lived in this world. I felt completely terrified and had a mental breakdown.
According to what people told me later, I stood up and broke the handcuffs, and started shouting and screaming. They tied me up to a bench and stuffed my mouth with a rag.
I knew they wanted to drive me insane. I was not afraid of dying, but I was afraid of going crazy. If I became crazy, they would use it to defame Falun Dafa.
After the incident, I wrote a guarantee statement that I would no longer practice Falun Gong, but I also made it clear that deep down in my heart I'd never betray my faith. They said that as long as I signed my name on the statement, they didn't care whether I was still firm in my faith in my heart.
But they went one step further and demanded that I admit my “crime” in front of a camera. I refused, as I didn't want them to use the video to deceive other people and to defame Falun Gong.
The torture intensified. I couldn't even get half a bottle of water a day. My right foot had been badly injured earlier so it wasn't restrained to a floor ring before. But they now restrained both of my feet. One inmate named Zhou Hongwei always kicked the wound on my right foot when he tried to keep me from closing my eyes. I eventually demanded that he stop such abuse. He never touched my right foot again.
Finally, the day came when I could no longer endure. I agreed to admit my “crime” in front of a camera.
When I was taken out of that room, I noticed the date was May 21, 2012.
That night, I had a high fever and difficulty breathing. I was taken to the prison clinic. I was diagnosed with pleuritis and fluid buildup near my second rib. For the two weeks after, my heartbeat was over 100 beats per minute. Prior to this, I never had any heart problems. Moreover, I couldn't sleep normally for a month, and drifted between consciousness and unconsciousness.
My ankles were swollen and dark after being tied up to the bench for so long. My legs shed a thick layer of dead skin after I was removed from that room.
Later, in July 2015 when I saw some arrested human rights lawyers admitting their “crimes” on TV, I often wondered if they had been subjected to what I had experienced.
Mr. Wang Yonghang was an attorney at the Qianjun Law Office in Liaoning Province. He has provided legal assistance to Falun Gong practitioners several times since 2007.
He published seven articles on The Epoch Times website, including an open letter addressed to the highest judicial office in China. In his open letter, entitled “Mistakes Made in the Past Demand That Corrections Be Made Quickly Today,” Mr. Wang pointed out that the CCP authorities control both the legislative and judicial systems without checks and balances, and use them to persecute Falun Gong practitioners under the guise of law.
Mr. Wang exposed the unlawful nature of the persecution, and requested that the highest judicial authorities recognize the seriousness of the problem, immediately correct their mistakes, and release all illegally detained practitioners.
As a result of his letters, and under great pressure from the authorities, the law firm where he worked terminated his employment. His attorney certification was taken away and held by the authorities.
On July 4, 2009, the police illegally arrested Mr. Wang. According to sources within the police system, this arrest was ordered by Zhou Yongkang, China's highest official in charge of law and order and a member of the Politburo Standing Committee of the CCP.
On November 27, 2009, Mr. Wang was sentenced to seven years in prison. He was taken to the Shenyang No. 1 Prison in Liaoning Province on April 22, 2010.
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