Systematic Destruction of Conscience: Strict Monitoring and Brainwashing at Beijing Women's Prison

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It is the invention of CCP's prisons, its forced labour camps, and its detention centres to use other prisoners and collaborators to persecute Falun Gong practitioners through strict monitoring and so-called "help and education" (brainwashing). After several years of practice and development of the torture tactics based on the CCP's extensive experience of persecution and purges in its numerous political movements, the authorities at Beijing Women's Prison perfected the system of monitoring and brainwashing to persecute Falun Gong practitioners, and found ways to intensify these tactics. Through strict monitoring and brainwashing, the prisoners, under the instruction of the authorities, employ the tactics of group attack, psychological warfare, and taking turns to wear down, intimidate and torture practitioners. To destroy the physical and mental health of practitioners, they have made these persecution tactics procedural and systematic.

While the CCP's prisons deprive the freedom of common inmates, the tortures that involve strict monitoring and brainwashing are designed to completely deprive prisoners of the basic rights and security human beings are entitled to. They are actually concealed and sly physical and mental tortures.

Under the guise of the CCP's high-profile advocation of "prohibiting prison guards from committing bad deeds against basic human rights," its claim of "civilized law enforcement," its "model law enforcement," and the "open prison-administration," prison guards do not directly beat, torture, and humiliate practitioners as often as they did in the past. However, every incident of strict monitoring or brainwashing has been carried out under the instruction of the guards. The system of strict monitoring and brainwashing is, in essence, to have prisoners carry out the persecution that the guards are officially not supposed to do. While guards are officially "prohibited from" committing such crimes, which would otherwise leave behind evidence of persecution, they give hints to their trusted prisoners, who understand their instructions and who even design new tactics to persecute practitioners. In particular, the death of practitioner Dong Cuifang was the result of the monitoring and brainwashing carried out by some prisoners who were instigated by the guards. After Dong Cuifang died, none of the prison guards entered the scene in order to avoid becoming a suspect. Instead they simply stayed outside the room and ordered others to remove the body.

While the authorities of Beijing Women's Prison employ the tactics of monitoring and brainwashing, they dare not make them public because this system severely violates the constitution and infringes upon the citizens' rights, such as the right to personal safety, the right to file lawsuits, and the right of free speech. To avoid condemnation by the international human rights organizations, the authorities of Beijing Women's Prison use the word "safeguard" in place of strict monitoring to soften the brutality of the latter. By changing the name, they mistakenly thought they would be able to claim they respect human rights. In addition, using prisoners to watch prisoners, the system of strict monitoring and brainwashing violates the "Prison Law." Publicly the prisons provide that guards must keep prisoners under control directly and that employing prisoners to control other prisoners is prohibited. Fully understanding the prison ordinances, the authorities of the prison had to acknowledge publicly that "the job of converting Dong Cuifang was performed by our guards," despite their tremendous attempt to shirk responsibility.

Lately the No. 1, No. 10, No .4, and No. 8 prison districts of Beijing Women's Prison all widely use the system of strict monitoring and brainwashing to persecute Falun Gong practitioners. Categorized into "openly" and "concealed" versions, strict monitoring is carried out by the regular prisoners who are "closer to the government," but are not necessarily able to do "ideological work." They must be prisoners that the guards trust, people who can "guard prison secrets" and be good at informing on other prisoners and understanding the guards' hints on what they should do. On the other hand, brainwashing is mostly carried out by the collaborators who have become accomplices of the guards, although it is sometimes also performed by regular prisoners. Sometimes, the authorities also instruct newly "reformed" practitioners to brainwash other practitioners in order to test whether they had truly "reformed" and force them to commit crimes.

Once a practitioner is put into the prison, she will be subject to the persecution of strict monitoring, during which she is forced to share a cell with one or even four other prisoners who have been instructed to persecute her. The duty of the assigned monitor is to watch a practitioner's every move and control them, including keeping practitioners from holding hunger strikes, doing Falun Gong exercises, communicating with one another with eye contact and hand gestures, or smuggling out information or smuggling in Falun Gong articles. For practitioners who uphold their belief, the duty extends to keeping them from resisting physical abuse, contacting people who visit the prison or interview prisoners, reporting the offences to authorities, filing lawsuits, or clarifying the truth. They also deprive these practitioners of sleep. When practitioners shout out in protest, hold hunger strikes, share experiences, gather together, or clarify the truth, the monitors must promptly cover their mouths, tightly hold them from front, back, left and right, and then knock them down.

Since most prisoners want to gain more points to get released earlier, they take every opportunity to be used as monitors. This way they get more points without doing hard work and get released from prison earlier than their peers. In the prison districts where practitioners are persecuted, participating in strict monitoring and brainwashing provide the best opportunities for more points. Those who participate in strict monitoring and brainwashing get monthly meetings with their relatives, annual "bureau-level awards," or "good worker" awards. In addition, they get extra benefits, such as being able to return home on holidays or leave the prison for visits. Even within the prison walls, they have extra freedom. These rewards have made them compete with one another vigorously. While some prisoners are initially sympathetic toward practitioners, out of their own interests, they tend to become accomplices of the guards and persecute practitioners. Exploiting practitioners' compassion and tolerance, these prisoners try their best to achieve their own goals without regard to the terrible consequences.

The system of strict monitoring and brainwashing includes not only rewards, but also punishments. If there are any incidents, they will be punished, their points revoked, and their terms extended. The concealed rules in the women's prison confound right and wrong. The "mistakes" of the monitors and collaborators are not when they hurt, paralyse, or even kill practitioners, but when they do not whole-heartedly safeguard the interest of the prison and the guards. Some prisoners were deprived of the family visits because they talked about the persecution by accident, while other prisoners' points were revoked and their prison-term reduction was withheld because they suggested that practitioners should be treated less brutally. Some prisoners whom the prison authorities use to brainwash practitioners are merely hatchet women. For example, for brutally abusing and beating practitioners Yuan Lin, Gong Ruiping, and Yue Changzhi, hatchet women Zhu Shuxian, Zhu Baolian, Yu Jia, Wu Yueping, Wu Dan, and Huan Xiaohon, received points for their brutality and prison term reductions. In particular, the criminals who killed practitioner Dong Cuifang, such as Li Xiaobin, Li Xiaomei, and Jin Hongwei, all received dramatic term reductions and permission to return home on holidays.

The system of strict monitoring and brainwashing not only tortures Falun Gong practitioners, but promotes treachery and destroys the conscience, and therefore is also persecution of the monitors and collaborators themselves. While prisons are presumably where bad deeds get corrected, the persecution system winks at crimes within the prison cells, exploits the hatred and distrust among people to the extreme, forces those who are used to brainwash practitioners but are sympathetic to practitioners to keep a distance from them, denigrates the kindhearted and stimulates and encourages the evil side of human beings. With the backing of prison guards and authorities, the monitors and those who brainwash practitioners can persecute practitioners at will. After they witnessed how prison guard Zhen Yumei beat and humiliated practitioner Zhou Zhi, when the prison head investigated the incident they denied seeing the beating. On another occasion, Li Xiaobin, Li Xiaomei, and Jin Hongwei intentionally gave false testimony that practitioner Dong Cuifang suffered vascular disease before her death, to cover up the fact that Dong Cuifang was murdered.

In Beijing Women's Prison, very crafty and vicious monitors won the backing of the prison authorities while Ms. Mei, who refused to beat practitioners, was interrogated by prison guards. Ms. Liu had refused to be "reformed," but some prisoners wrapped her up and tortured her. To get the authorities' trust, Ms. Liu later had to show her determination to be "reformed." She became even more vicious than others, but in private she told the practitioners she beat, "I'm forced to beat you. Otherwise, the guards will say I am not truly reformed and punish me." The distortion of righteousness and the encouragement of animal nature by the prison authorities have driven some prisoners to persecute Falun Gong practitioners with the most shameful means. Prisoner Liang Hui, convicted for murder, once viciously tortured practitioners including Lei Xiaoting in order to get her prison term reduced, and as a result she was praised and rewarded by the prison authorities. However, her experience haunted her in her dreams and she often trembled with fear. In fact, destroying their conscience is the most severe persecution of the monitors because it destroys their souls.

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