(Minghui.org) All female Falun Gong practitioners sentenced for their faith in Henan Province have been imprisoned in Xinxiang Women’s Prison since the Chinese communist regime began the persecution of Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline, in July 1999. Over the years, a set of strict persecution mechanisms have been set up in the prison to brutally torture and brainwash practitioners, which has also destroyed the humanity of inmates and prison guards.
Three Phases of Persecution
When practitioners arrived at the prison, they were all assigned to the 9th Ward, set up specifically for Falun Gong practitioners. The 9th Ward is on the first floor, dark and humid, and is full of ants and mosquitoes in the summer. The guards deliberately set up this harsh and strict environment to mentally intimidate practitioners for the purpose of not giving them opportunities to communicate with each other and put them under better control.
There are three teams in the 9th Ward, and each team has five to six cells with 10 to 12 other criminal inmates in each cell. These inmates became the helpers to the guards, fully committed to the effort of forcing practitioners to give up their faith. Because the 9th ward inmates don’t need to do labor work like regular inmates, some other inmates would use their connections to transfer to the 9th Ward.
The newly arrived practitioners were taken to designated rooms, where the inmates tried to get them to write the statements of renouncing Falun Gong, be it via means of threatening or sweet-talk. Once the practitioners wrote the statements, they were taken to cells.
Those who refused to do so were subjected to torture, such as starvation, denial of restroom use, long-time standing, or deprivation of sleep. If the practitioners did not give in after the initial short period, they were transferred to the three cells close to the guard shift room, or transferred to other wards so as to prevent their persistence from affecting other practitioners in the 9th Ward.
Practitioners that wrote the statements continued to stay in the 9th Ward but had to go through four months of intensive brainwashing. They were forced to read books that slandered Falun Gong during the first month. For the following three months, they had to watch videos defaming Falun Gong every day, and wrote reports afterwards. They began to do forced labor work after four months of forced brainwashing.
Systematic High-Pressure Persecution
The prison guards systematically worked on each practitioner in order to effectively target her weakness and get her to renounce Falun Gong. The guards and their helper inmates collected detailed information about each practitioner, including her verdict, education, occupation, personality, strengths and weaknesses, years practicing Falun Gong and health condition, as well as their family’s background, their occupation and their attitude toward Falun Gong. The inmates frequently had meetings to report the practitioners’ progress and to plot their next step. Physical and mental torture were carried out along with strict control to achieve their goals.
The guards created conflicts between the practitioners and their families, by telling their families during their visits that the prison could have reduced the practitioners’ terms if they hadn’t been so stubborn in upholding their faith in Falun Gong, leaving the families believing that the practitioners were selfish and disregarded their families. The guards also tried to have the family members persuade the practitioners or use the family conflict to destroy practitioners’ willpower.
Once a practitioner gave in, the guards immediately changed their attitude and showed their hypocritical care for her. With the practitioners being at the lowest point both physically and mentally, the guards’ hypocritical care lured them to engage in warmhearted conversations, giving out more information about their weaknesses, which would be used in the future to manipulate them.
Mental Torture with Physical Abuse
Practitioners are forced to watch videos slandering Falun Gong repeatedly every day for a lengthy period and they have to speak about their thoughts or write thought reports afterwards. All practitioners were gathered to do this together every Wednesday in the hall. They were also forced to write a weekly summary report, fill out a repentance form at the beginning of each month, write monthly thought reports and have a talk with guards every month.
Practitioners also had to study teachings of other qigong disciplines and were forced to practice them every day. Those who resisted the brainwashing were punished with reduction of sleeping time, food and drink, restricted use of the toilet, deprivation of shopping and family visitation or phone calls, or long time sitting on a small stool or standing. Some were beaten, locked up in strict control rooms, or confined in a solitary cell.
Many practitioners had health issues as a result of the abuses: some couldn’t urinate for days; some had high blood pressure; some lost consciousness and some suffered a mental collapse. Then they were forced to take medicines.
The head of 9th Ward, Yang Aiqing, rarely showed up in front of practitioners, instead, she supervised everything behind the scenes. She set up the requirement that all the reports or statements from the practitioners had to include slanderous words against Falun Gong and its founder. She uses the reduction of prison terms and other privileges to instigate inmates to use various means to force practitioners to comply.
To prevent practitioners from communicating with each other, two inmates were assigned to take turns monitoring one practitioner around the clock and they followed the practitioner everywhere. They reported on practitioners when the latter exchanged glances, smiled, or passed on necessities or food between each other, who would then be given a warning or bad record, or subjected to severe restriction.
In each cell, one inmate on shift woke up everyone at 5:00 a.m. every day, and each practitioner was only given five minutes to use the toilet and wash up. They had until 7:30 a.m. to finish washing dishes after breakfast, cleaning up, washing clothes and tiding up the rooms, before doing the forced labor or attending brainwashing sessions. Any practitioner who moved slowly would be verbally abused by the inmates.
Practitioners were not given enough time during meals. Some vegetables were hard to chew for elderly practitioners with bad teeth and they had to skip vegetables for many meals. Some inmates purposely put the hard vegetables in their bowls, knowing that they were unable to eat it.
Each practitioner was only given two tins of boiling water every day, for drinking, washing and bathing. They were only given 15 minutes at night to wash themselves.
Persecution in Other Wards
When guards or inmates from 9th Ward were transferred to other wards, with their experiences in the 9th Ward, they became the vanguards of persecuting practitioners and escalated the abuses.
Some steadfast practitioners were forced to stand in solitary cells, with inmates monitoring them from the window all the time. The inmates went in the cell to beat the practitioner when she could not stand any longer. Practitioners who went on hunger strike were dragged to the Medical Ward three times a day for force feeding.
Uncooperative practitioners in the 1st ward were forced to sit in metal chairs with their hands handcuffed and feet shackled.
In the Admissions Ward, practitioners were subjected to brainwashing and strictly controlled. Some were locked up in solitary confinement for a long time.
Most torture methods, such as sitting in a metal chair and sprayed with pepper water, continued until the practitioners were released.
Prison officials not only imposed the brainwashing on practitioners but also on non-practitioner inmates as well, which promoted them to actively participate in the persecution and further destroyed their moral conscience. All the guards who went along with the brainwashing sessions were also further poisoned.
Videos defaming Falun Gong were broadcast in all prison cells every Wednesday or from time to time. Each cell was required to submit a monthly report on their thoughts on Falun Gong.
The prison newspapers, edited by the newspaper team consisting of inmates, were published with contents of practitioners’ stories of renouncing Falun Gong and distributed throughout the prison. Inmates in every ward built display boards with contents slandering Falun Gong and exhibited them in the prison square. During prison annual performance celebration, the inmates, especially those from the 9th Ward, had to come up with programs defaming Falun Gong, which were videotaped and broadcast throughout the prison, and all inmates were required to watch.
The prison director and the prison brainwashing team forced all inmates in the entire prison to sign on a display board that slandered Falun Gong in 2019 to declare their stance against the practice.
The prison officials and guards tampered the prison video recordings to erase the traces of their crimes and put on a hypocritical show during inspection or in front of visitors.
The guards edited or deleted the content of their body recorder videos when their actions were unlawful during unexpected commotions. They also did not turn on the recorder during their conversation with steadfast practitioners. They ordered the inmates to carry out harsh punishment on practitioners after 10:00 p.m. in places without monitoring video recorders. They then closed the gate to the cells and ignored the beating happening inside.
Inspectors of different levels and visiting groups frequently came to the prison and especially the 9th Ward. Before they arrived, the guards worked hard to make the environment appealing, including putting up decoration with handmade paper cutouts, fresh painting, or replacing bunk beds. The practitioners who upheld their faith were temporarily placed in the cells further down the hall since the guards normally only showed the visitors a few cells close to the entrance.
Practitioners Tortured to Death or Near Death
Ms. Zhu Ying, a former member of the National People’s Congress from Xinxiang City, suffered ovarian cancer in 2004 and recovered after practicing Falun Gong in 2005. She was arrested on April 10, 2010 and sentenced to eight years in Xinxiang Women’s Prison in October 2010. She passed away on November 23, 2010. Her legs were severely swollen and her stomach was bloated. She was 53.
Ms. Jiang Zhaofang, an employee of Puyang Zhongyuan Oilfield, suffered brutal torture during her one and a half years of forced labor term around 2005 and 2006. As a result, her leg was disabled and she walked with a limp when she was released. She was arrested again on May 17, 2009 and sentenced to three years in Xinxiang Women’s Prison. She was tortured until she was unable to take care of herself. She was released on medical parole in March 2012 and passed away a year later on March 2, 2013, at the age of 47.
Ms. Yang Xiangzhen, from Tanghe County, Nanyang City, was sentenced to four years after her arrest in 2012. She developed cancer symptoms in less than a year in Xinxiang Women’s Prison and was released. She passed away at the beginning of 2014. She was 69.
Ms. Wang Cui, a teacher from Shenqiu County, Zhoukou City, Henan Province, was sentenced to seven years in 2012 and persecuted to death in prison on December 21, 2016. Her family was not allowed to take her body, instead, it was hastily cremated. She was 53.
Ms. Liu Zhenfang, of Huangchuan County, Xinyang City, was released from Xinxiang Women’s Prison for medical treatment on September 1, 2018. She was emaciated, and passed away three months later, on December, 7, 2018, at the age of 60.
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