Whenever I think of the notorious Masanjia Forced Labour Camp, my heart trembles.
I will never forget the day: April 19th, 2001. On that date, the guards at Masanjia Forced Labour Camp took nine of us – women who refused to give up our belief in Falun Gong, into nine separate rooms. I was put into the first room where four male inmates were waiting. I saw another big room holding more than 30 men when I went to the toilet.
1. Subjected to Forced Labour Because of My Belief
My name is Yi Liping. I'm 45 years old this year. I started to read the Falun Gong book Zhuan Falun at the end of October 1998. I thought the book was really good and I wanted to better myself according to the teachings it presented.
Little did I know how dramatically my life would change in 1999.
In July 1999, several police officers came to my home to determine whether I practised Falun Gong. They searched my home for Falun Gong books. My younger brother (named Yi Xianwu) and I protested their illegal search.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) official campaign of persecution targeting Falun Gong began on July 20th, 1999. After that, the police started to openly watch my home every day. Police cars and motorcycles were always nearby, which terrified my young child. She tried to hide from them. There was little peace in our home in those days.
I asked my mother to take care of my seven-year-old child and went to Beijing to appeal for justice for Falun Gong. My brother and I went together.
Police also were going to Beijing from all over China trying to intercept people who were coming to appeal for Falun Gong. In September of 1999, I was arrested in Beijing and sent back to the local detention centre. One month later, I was released and the police blackmailed my mother for 9500 yuan1.
My younger brother was pale and thin after he was released. He was 1.84 m (about 6 ft) tall, but he only weighed about 55 kg (about 120 lb). In the detention centre, we were forced to do handicrafts and recite the prison rules. We were given injections of unidentified substances.
We were more closely monitored after we were released. Two people assigned by the local police station and the local residential office (a branch of the Party that exists in every neighbourhood in China) stayed in my home each day, which made everyone nervous. My child often had nightmares and cried at night.
2. More Than Half of My Hair Turned Grey after Three Days of Hard Labour
I was detained at Diaobingshan Detention Centre between October 1999 and January 7th, 2000, because I appealed twice for Falun Gong.
On the morning of January 7th, 2000, I was sent to Tieling Forced Labour Camp. The female guards stripped off my clothes and conducted a body search.
We were forced to get up before 6 a.m. and dig trenches outside in the cold weather The temperature was -20 to -30 o C (about -4 to -22 o F).
On January 20th, 2000, we were transferred to Liaoning Forced Labour camp. As soon as we got there we were subjected to body searches again.
I was sent to No. 2 Division. We were forced to labour in slave-like conditions for more than 20 hours a day. One would not be allowed to sleep if the daily quota wasn't reached. Those who hadn't been “transformed” [forcibly renounce Falun Gong] would not be allowed to sleep until 3 a.m. At 5:30 a.m., everyone had to get up. We were only allowed less than 10 minutes to use the toilet room and wash.
Four of us including Ms. Gao Jinling (who later was tortured to death) were assigned to a steel factory. We had to pick up steel bars of different sizes with rough edges from a several-metre-high pile and load them onto a big truck. We only had about four to fill one truck, about 4 to 5 tons of steel bars per truck. My hands and arms were covered with cuts from the steel bars. We sweated a lot in such hot weather. The hot steel touched our wet skin and burned it into blisters.
When we came back to the cell in the evening, we were still forced to make handicrafts until late and sometimes we worked all night.
More than half of my hair turned grey after three days of such forced labour. My eyes were red and my hands were so badly injured that my fingerprints disappeared. My entire body was in so much pain that I couldn't even climb up into bed at night.
We were also forced to work on asbestos, without any facemasks. We kept vomiting from the poisonous air.
Later, I frequently vomited blood from the excessive fatigue. My weight dropped from 75 kg to 60 kg within a few months. I also stopped having my period.
In September of 2000, four of us – Wang Dong, Wang Jinping, Lu Yanjing and I were secretly transferred to Masanjia Forced Labour Camp
3. The Notorious Masanjia Forced Labour Camp
Masanjia Labour Camp is specialized in persecuting Falun Gong practitioners. I was woken up before 5 a.m. each day and forced to listen to the propaganda that slandered Falun Gong for nearly 24 hours - until 2 a.m. the following day.
After two weeks, since I was not “transformed”, I was called to division head Zhang Xiurong's office. She put a wooden stick on my legs and punched my head with her fist. She kicked me to the ground and forced me to squat down with the stick between my legs. If the stick fell out, she would shock me with an electric baton.
She kicked and punched me and tried to force me to write the “three statements” to renounce practising Falun Gong. I refused. She ordered that I be taken to an empty room where practitioners are tortured. She started to shock me with two electric batons, on my face, neck, feet and hands. I was in extreme pain. I had a hard time breathing and my face kept twitching. I couldn't stand up anymore and fell backward.
Loud thunder suddenly shook the building and the wind began gusting outside. I sternly told her that I would not give up Falun Gong even at the last minute of my life. She threw the batons down and rushed out.
I was dragged back to the cell. When I regained consciousness, I found my hands, my face, neck and back were covered with burn marks and blisters. I was extremely weak.
Seeing how badly I had been tortured, an old lady in the cell wept and said, “I don't know if you can handle it. Few people can bear the torture. If you cannot, just write the statements they want.”
I then realized that this was how those so many practitioners have been “transformed” at Masanjia. I cried in sadness.
Because I refused to be “transformed”, Zhang Xiurong ordered that I would not be allowed to sleep. Division head Zhang Naimin shocked me with two electric batons. When she asked me why I refused to renounce Falun Gong by writing the “three statements”, I told her, I learned Falun Gong of my own will so why I should write the “repentance statement”? She shocked me for ten minutes.
At Masanjia, they tried every technique on practitioners to make them transform. Zhang Xiurong ordered a group of inmates to take turns beating me. They slammed my head against the wall, which caused my ears to ring loudly.
When they got tired of beating me, they forced me to half squat down with my hands stretched out flat. They put needles under my wrists. If my hands dropped, they would pinch me. In less than two hours, my wrists were pinched so badly that blood flowed from them. If I moved my hands away from the needles, they would beat me with wooden sticks and slap my face.
One day I was dragged to Zhang Xuerong's office and was pressured again to write the “three statements”. I refused. Zhang and two guards beat and insulted me. She held me on the ground and cut my hair with scissors. Then she laughed wildly and said I looked like a mental patient.
4. Secretly Put Into a Cell Filled with Men
I will never forget that date: April 19th, 2001.
That morning, Zhang Xiurong told me to collect my belongings. I didn't know why I was the only one to pack my belongings among 30 people in the cell. Then Ms. Zhao Suhuan from the cell across the hallway was also called out. We were taken to the courtyard with our luggage. Ten practitioners who hadn't been “transformed” were there.
A division head said, “We found a good place. You can practise there.”
Ten of us including Zhou Guirong, Zhang Suhuan, Ren Dongmei, Zhou Yanbo, Wang Li, Wang Min, Wang Keyi and Aunt Qu were handcuffed by male guards and taken to a police van. The van stopped at a men's labour camp. Later we learned it was Zhangshi Forced Labour Camp.
We were taken to a white building and our blood pressure was tested. Aunt Qu was taken away and nine of us stayed.
We were taken to nine different rooms. I was sent to the first room. There was a large double bed and a floor hanger in the room. Four men were already in the room waiting. When I went to the toilet, I saw there was a big room with more than 30 men sleeping there. They were prison inmates.
I was a little afraid and wondered what kind of the place this was. Who were these men? Why were there so many men sleeping here? I got the answer that night.
After 10 p.m., I asked the men in the room, “Why don't you leave? I need to sleep.” One of them answered, “Sleep? You want to sleep, do you? No one is allowed to sleep without being 'transformed'. One woman was 'trained' here for 18 days and not allowed to sleep. In the end, she became crazy.”
They soon left but another four or five men came in. Soon another group of men walked in. They yelled in the hallway and made a lot of noise. They kicked the door and broke into the room. They kept videotaping me.
Suddenly I heard Ms. Zhou Guirong's voice from the hallway. She kept calling my name, “Liping, Liping, we were sent from a wolf's to a tiger den. The CCP is a gang of hoodlums!”
Hearing her miserable cries, I rushed into the hallway and met Ms. Zhou there. We held each other tightly no matter how much the men beat us. I desperately wanted to protect her since she was shorter and thinner than me. The corner of my right eye was swollen due to beating. My clothes were torn off and I was almost naked. Ms. Zhou and I were dragged back to our rooms. Four or five male inmates threw me to the bed. One man sat on me and beat me. I became dizzy and passed out.
As I awoke from unconsciousness, I noticed that three men were laying beside me. One was on my left and two on my right. A young man close on my right was touching my body all over with his hands. He was less than 20 years old. The other man behind him was also busy touching me with his hands. The man on my left kept touching my face and held his leg against my private parts. Above my head, there was another man sitting there. He kept touching my face and my head. Two men stood below me facing the gap between my legs. One was video taping and the other was watching. They kept talking dirty. I didn't know how many others were under my feet. They kept scratching the centre of my feet bottom and laughing. They said dirty words and said, “Don't fake your death. You need to be 'transformed' even if you are dead.”
I couldn't believe what I was experiencing. A chunk of blood rushed out of my mouth.
I heard Ms. Zhou Guirong calling my name, “Liping! Liping!” I raised up with all my strength to seek that familiar voice. The man holding the door hit my head with a hanger and I felt the warmth of blood trickling down my face.
I beat the door frantically and at the same time I was beaten from behind. I kept calling Ms. Zhou's name and she rushed into my room. Both of us kept shaking the metal gate. By the time the guard opened the gate, both of us had been beaten badly.
We asked the guard, “Why is the government doing this to us? If these men don't leave our rooms today, we will sue you if we can leave here alive. If we die here, our souls will never forgive you!”
The guard told the male inmates that they shouldn't do anything wrong while he was on duty.
We were taken to my room and four inmates were left to watch us. We stayed awake the whole night looking at each other with tears in our eyes. We could hear the sounds of yelling and bangs on the doors from other rooms.
The next day, April 20th, another guard was on duty when Ms. Zhou Guirong was taken back to her room. That day, I was beaten by a male inmate. That night, I was gang raped, just as I had been the night before.
We don't know how we survived that night.
On the third day, Ms. Zhou and I thought of Ms. Ren Dongmei, an unmarried woman who was held in the room the furthest inside. We rushed to the hallway and called her name.
I talked to the guard and told him in tears that Ms. Ren Dongmei was unmarried and they should not hurt her if they were still human.
On the fourth day, a group of guards came. Ms. Zhou Guirong and I were held by two guards respectively and were going to be taken away. We kept calling Ms. Ren Dongmei's name and finally she was brought out. We don't know what happened to the other six practitioners.
I have never before written down the details of what happened there. Even now, years later, I still tremble when I think about it. Whenever I remember what was done to me, I once again experience the extreme fear and pain of those days and nights.
Later I learned, before we were sent there, there were 33 practitioners who had been sent there and “transformed” in this way. Some had mental breakdowns. For years, they never stopped the brutal persecution of Falun Gong practitioners.
1. "Yuan" is the Chinese currency; 500 yuan is equal to the average monthly income of an urban worker in China.
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