CHRD : Re-education through Labor Abuses Continue Unabated: Overhaul Long Overdue (excerpts)

"More than half of our 13 interviewees remarked on the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in RTL camps. They said Falun Gong practitioners make up one of the largest groups of detainees in the camp, and that they are often persecuted because of their faith."

 

Introduction


[...] Chinese authorities continue to operate one of the world‘s largest and most notorious arbitrary detention systems – the Re-education through Labor camps. Without charge or trial, hundreds of thousands of Chinese are held in forced labor camps every year.  [...]

With RTL, police are able to send an individual to up to four years of detention for what they consider ―minor offenses, which include drug addiction, prostitution, petitioning, advocating for human rights, or being a member of an ―illegal‖ religion such as a Christian house church or Falun Gong.

In this report, CHRD traces the evolution of the system and investigates how the Chinese police became vested with the authority to bypass the judiciary and sweep individuals into these camps with ease and efficiency. We find that the police control the entire process of sending an individual to an RTL camp and their power is neither constrained nor supervised by an external and independent government agency. [...] The RTL system blatantly violates the rights of Chinese citizens, in particular their right to be protected from arbitrary deprivation of personal freedom and their right to a fair trial.  RTL is also inconsistent with a number of China‘s own laws and its Constitution.  

CHRD‘s research and interviews with former RTL detainees also reveal an extremely disturbing and grim picture of life in the labor camps—frequent beatings and torture inflicted by fellow detainees as instructed by camp staff; heavy, coerced and unpaid labor in hazardous working conditions; poor diet and unsanitary living conditions; extortion by camp administration; little to no exercise; being barred from family visits; and extremely limited medical care. The conditions are so poor that they constitute a gross violation of the right not to be tortured or subjected to other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

[...]

This report is produced by CHRD researchers, including China-based activists and legal experts who worked closely with former RTL detainees. They conducted the primary research and produced an initial report in Chinese, on which this report is based. Key source material includes a survey conducted in March 2007 of over 1,000 petitioners (many of whom were RTL detainees), thirteen interviews with former detainees, and the analyses of those who carried out the research.  

Overview of the Re-education through Labor system


RTL is an administrative punishment measure unique to China according to which, without any legal proceedings or due process, individuals can be detained and subjected to forced labor for a maximum of three years with the possibility of extending to a fourth year. RTL is ‘administrative’ because administrative, not judicial, authorities have the power to send individuals to RTL. The idea behind RTL, according to the Chinese authorities, is to reform, through forced education and labor, individuals who have committed minor offenses that are not serious enough to be punished by the Criminal Law.

According to our interviews with former RTL detainees, a RTL camp typically holds hundreds of detainees, while some bigger camps can hold several thousands each. Several types of detainees are generally found in RTL camps: individuals who have committed “petty crimes,” such as theft or minor assaults; social deviants, such as drug abusers or prostitutes; religious adherents, such as Falun Gong practitioners, Muslims and Christians belonging to sects and house churches not recognized by the government; and petitioners and other individuals considered to “disturb social order”, such as rag pickers and hawkers of small goods.

The Chinese government has released little or no information regarding the scope of and conditions within RTL camps.  Available statistics from official, UN, academic and NGO sources vary widely regarding the number of individuals detained in RTL camps in any given year and are often not up-to-date. According to the Laogai Foundation, which provides the latest available statistics regarding RTL, there are at least 319 RTL camps with an estimated 500,000 to 2 million individuals serving in them as of June 2008.

[…]

The ineffectiveness of legal remedies

CHRD‘s own research revealed that very few individuals sent to RTL make use of these remedies to overturn the RTL decisions.

In March 2007, CHRD conducted a survey in Beijing of more than 1,000 petitioners from all over the country. The survey was carried out in areas frequented by petitioners in Beijing, including the South Train Station, the Petitioners‘ Village, and in front of various Letters and Visits Offices. Petitioners willing to take part in the survey filled out questionnaires. Interviews were also conducted. The sample selected for survey and interview was random. Petitioners surveyed and interviewed included both sexes of all ages (excluding those under the age of 18).

Only 5% of those surveyed who had been sent to RTL had applied for an administrative review or litigation. For those who did, none managed to overturn the decision using the remedies. Only one of the surveyed had her sentence reduced from two years to one year after an administrative review. However, she was a special case--she was a Falun Gong practitioner with an American green card. It is believed that pressure from the U.S. government shortened the length of her punishment.

The use of RTL to punish human rights defenders, petitioners and Falun Gong practitioners  

More than half of our 13 interviewees remarked on the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in RTL camps. They said Falun Gong practitioners make up one of the largest groups of detainees in the camp, and that they are often persecuted because of their faith:  

―”Inside the camp, disobedient detainees were made to sit on the ―tiger bench, especially if they were Falun Gong practitioners. They were severely persecuted…Falun Gong practitioners were often not allowed to sleep until they promised to reform and wrote letters denouncing their beliefs.  Only then would their situations improve,” said Du Fengqin. (Interview 6)

―”Of all the detainees, the Falun Gong practitioners were the largest group… Normally, Falun Gong practitioners weren't allowed to have visitors unless they admitted their guilt and worked especially hard”, said Feng Xixia (Interview 11), who spent three months in a RTL camp in Shaanxi Province.

Appendix II: Selected interviews with former RTL detainees

Heizuizi RTL Camp, Jilin Province

Shibalihe RTL Camp for Women, in Zhengzhou City, Henan Province

Huangheqiao RTL Camp in Luoyang City, Henan Province

Qiqihaer RTL / Harbin Women’s RTL camp, Heilongjiang Province

Fengtai District RTL Camp, Beijing

Daxing District RTL Camp,  Beijing

Shaanxi Province Women's RTL camp

Guanshanzi RTL camp, Changtu County, Liaoning Province

Luyang RTL Administrative Office, Shaanxi Province

***

 

Heizuizi RTL Camp, Jilin Province

Interview 1: Li Guirong (李桂荣) (f), from Liaoyuan City, Jilin Province

Period of Detention in RTL: June 11, 2004 to December 10, 2005

1.  Camp size
 
When I was in Heizuizi RTL Camp, the greatest number of detainees ever held was about 2,000; the smallest number was around 800.

2.  Types of detainees
 
Most of those detained in RTL were: one, Falun Gong practitioners; two, Christian believers.

3.  Working conditions
 
Our main work in the camp was to process the raw material, cloth paste, which is a form of handicraft that is exported to Japan. The workload was very heavy; we often worked 18, and sometimes even 20, hours daily. We started work at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. every day, and could only sleep after 11 p.m. Those who could not complete their tasks were often beaten up by criminal offenders under camp supervisors’ instructions. […]
 
To rush out the work, the camp refused to let RTL detainees use the toilet alone. Someone who wishes to use the toilet needs to wait till there were three people before all could go together. Some people who urgently needed to urinate and could not wait for so many people had to urinate in their pants. This shows how taxing the work was, and how inhumane the management was.
 
Although we were had to work so intensively in the camp, the camp only gave us a compensation of two cents for each day, which means six yuan a month. The camp even deducts a portion of this amount of six yuan, citing various reasons such as damage and use of communal sanitary supplies. To motivate the detainees in doing overtime work on top of those compulsory intensive tasks, the camp often claimed that there would be compensation or incentives, but often, nothing came out of these.

4.  Meals
 
‘Eating’ in camp for me could not be considered as eating; it would be ‘pouring rice into the belly’. That is because the entire time taken for it - from queuing in the production area to walking to the canteen, sitting down together at the same time, eating together at the same time to clearing the utensils – took only 25 minutes, which means that actual eating hardly took up five minutes.

The quality of rice and dishes was extremely poor; in the morning it would be pickled vegetables and porridge; in the afternoon and night, it would usually be steamed buns and Chinese cabbage. Basically you could speculate on what was the cheapest food in the market at that time from what you ate; there was also not much of cooking oil used in the dishes. There was rice and bread only once a week.

[…]

7.  Violence and Abuse in camp

Violent beatings/assaults were very common in the RTL camp that I was in. I remember that when I first entered the camp, I was stripped naked during the physical checkup. When I objected during the check-up, the staff conducting the checkup immediately pressed me to the ground and gave me a severe beating. […] Such beatings are only too widespread in the Jilin Women’s Prison; they can be seen almost every day.

[…]

I even met a Falun Gong practitioner in the camp who went on a hunger strike to resist reform. In the end, she was repeatedly thrashed and tortured. One night, […] she hit her head on the radiator; she broke her head as a result and was given 14 stitches. During the following nights, her head was tied with a rope so that she couldn’t sleep: every time she nodded off to sleep, her head wounds would be stretched, causing unbearable pain. After being tortured like this for several days, that person completely did not resemble a human being anymore. I don’t know where she was taken to after that.


***

Shibalihe RTL Camp for Women, in Zhengzhou City, Henan Province

Interview 2 : Li Yanqin (李艳琴) (f) from Xihua County, Henan Province

Period of detention in RTL: On October 9, 2006, the Henan Zhoukou RTL Management Committee sentenced me to one year and nine months of RTL in the name of “severe disruption of social order”. The implementation period was supposed to last from October 9, 2006, to July 8, 2008, but I was released earlier, on April 14, 2008, as I was diligent in camp;  

1.   Camp size
 
At the Henan RTL Camp for Women, the greatest number of people ever held was nearly 1,000; in times where there were fewer people, it was around 600.  

2.  Types of detainees
 
Most of them were drug addicts; this is followed by Falun Gong members, petitioners, believers, and criminal offenders of petty crimes such as theft, robbery, fights, assaults and so on. When I was in Henan RTL Camp, the greatest number of petitioners ever held was about 80; in times where there were fewer people, it was around 60.

3.  Working conditions
 
In the early days of my detention, I mainly had to do washing.  This was later changed to processing electronics. All this was mindless mechanical work. The typical work day lasted between 12 and 13 hours; when the workload got heavy, there would be overtime and this would run into 17 to 18 hours.

The work was very intense, and it often tired people out physically and mentally. Despite the heavy labor, everyone was compensated two mao every day, which means six yuan a month. The daily necessities sold in the camp were extremely costly; those detainees whose families could not afford to send them money, couldn’t even afford basic necessities such as toilet paper.

4.  Meals
 
We ate Chinese cabbage and carrots everyday; we only had wheat flour once a week, and rice once a week. Most of the time, we ate steamed buns.

[…]

7.  Violence and Abuse in camp
 
There were widespread beatings in the camp. Camp supervisors would simply instruct criminal offenders serving RTL in camp, to beat up those who could not finish their work on time. Those who defied discipline would be battered more seriously. […]
 
The camp even detained elderly people over the age of 70, and physically disabled people. According to the relevant regulations of the nation’s RTL system, RTL detention is not allowed for those over 70 years old and the physically disabled; however, the local governments did not bother about this. They sent whoever they wanted in RTL to camp.

***

Huangheqiao RTL Camp in Luoyang City, Henan Province

Interview 3 : Liu Xueli (刘学立) (m) from  Luoyang City, Henan Province

Period in Detention: One year, beginning April 26, 2004

1.  Camp size
 
During the one year I spent in Huangheqiao RTL Camp, the greatest number of RTL detainees was near 600; the least was over 400 people.

2.  Types  of detainees
 
Most were local drug addicts; others were believers, especially Christians; the third largest group was Falun Gong practitioners; the fourth was made up of people who had committed minor crimes, such as petty theft, gambling, fighting, assaulting, and so on. There were not many petitioners detained when I was in there; there were only two. A detainee later revealed to me that after I left, more petitioners were held there.  At present, there are 20 petitioners detained there.

3.  Working conditions

 
We had to engage in relatively heavy manual labor because we did all farm activities on the farms outside the camp. Inside the camp, we mainly made paper boxes and firecrackers; the workload was very heavy. Our usual working hours were 7 a.m. to 11.30 a.m., and 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. As the workload was very heavy, we often had to work overtime till past 10 p.m., and sometimes even until around midnight. The camp issued one yuan for one day of labor; it was said that our meals each day cost two yuan.

4. Meals
 
The food in camp was very poor; basically, there was no cooking oil. This caused all of the detainees to protest in June 2004. I still remember that armed police were sent to suppress the protest. Later there were slight improvements in our living conditions but basically it was still Chinese cabbage, carrots and steamed buns; sometimes we didn’t have enough to eat.

[...]

7.   Violence and abuse in camp

Camp beatings were a commonplace affair. It was mainly the camp staff instigating criminal offenders who were also supposedly in charge of supervising work. Disobedient RTL detainees would be beaten up by these ‘supervisors’. I remember that when I first entered the camp, the camp management ordered four detainees to beat me.


***

Qiqihaer RTL / Harbin Women’s RTL camp, Heilongjiang Province

Interview 6: Du Fengqin (杜风芹) (f) from Longjiang County, Heilongjiang Province

Period of detention in RTL: 16, 2007, to October 12, 2008

RTL locations: Originally at Qiqihaer, moved on May 17, 2008 to Harbin Women's RTL Camp

1. Camp size  

At the Qiqihaer camp, there were 65 detainees in my work group at its peak.  The camp had 5 men's work groups, and these groups generally had 30-40 men on them, so the greatest number of detainees was over 200.

After we were transferred to the Harbin Women's RTL Camp, there were two types of work groups: the four production teams which, at their peak, had 97 detainees between them, and the three work groups, which each had at least 60 detainees.  The maximum population of the camp was more than 300 detainees.  

2. Types of detainees

The situation was more or less the same at both the Qiqihaer and Harbin Women's RTL Camps, and the main types of detainees were: Falun Gong practitioners, who could have been the largest group within the camps; petitioners, more than 20 of them; next were members of Christian household churches; five or six prostitutes and drug addicts; finally, there were detainees who had "disturbed public order," fought, or been involved in domestic disputes.  

3. Working conditions

In the Qiqihaer camp, we worked between 14 and 15 hours every day, starting at 5 in the morning, and, aside from time for eating, we did not stop until after 9 pm.  Because of the heavy workload and the demands of the camp, we sometimes worked until after 1 in the morning.  If a detainee was sick, they were not allowed to rest and were forced to work.  Detainees with hypertension and heart disease were forced to work.   Our main work was to make bottle gourds with a kind of poisonous dye.  It was dangerous and unhealthy work, and often made us feel unwell.

Later, at the Harbin Women's RTL camp, I worked on the production team, whose job was to make toothpicks.  Every day we worked from 5 in the morning until 9 at night, with only a half-hour break at noon.  

4.  Meals

At Qiqihaer, our lives were very poor.  One winter all we ate was frozen cabbage, only eating meat once, on New Year's.  For our staple food we only had steamed buns.  The quality of food was very poor and it tasted terrible. Those who could not stand the food could only buy it [from the camp stores], but since everything inside the camp was very expensive, life inside the camp would be very hard to bear unless your family was very well-off.  

At the Harbin Women's Cap, we ate three meals a day.  We had steamed buns in the morning and cooked dishes at noon.  There was enough to eat one's fill, but the quality of food was not very good.

[…]

7. Violence and abuse in camp

Inside RTL camps, detainees are often beat up. […] Inside the camp, disobedient detainees were made to sit on the “tiger bench”, especially if they were Falun Gong practitioners.  They were severely persecuted. The Qiqihaer camp had a kind of torture called "xiadihuan” which involved handcuffing detainees to the floor in a squatting position, so that the detainee could not stand up, nor could they comfortably sit on the ground.  This was extremely painful, and I saw with my own eyes a 68-year old woman subjected to this kind of torture.

Falun Gong practitioners were often not allowed to sleep until they promised to reform and wrote letters denouncing their beliefs.  Only then would their situations improve.

***

Fengtai District RTL Camp, Beijing

Interview 8: Li Si (李思, formerly Li Sufu [李速富]) (m) from Pingjiang County, Hunan Province

Period of detention in RTL: January 1, 2004, to August 7, 2004

1. Camp size
 
During the time I was at the Fengtai RTL camp, the greatest number of detainees was between 3500 and 4000, and the smallest number was a little more than 1000 detainees.

2. Types of detainees
 
The main types were: first, Falun Gong practitioners; second, petty criminals or petty thieves, people who had been in fights, drug users, white-collar criminals, etc.; third, petitioners; and finally, there were Muslims.

3. Working conditions  
 
Because I was beaten so severely I was unable to work, I was not very interested in the work others were doing nor did I really understand it.  But from seeing their bodies stained with dirt, they must have been digging ditches or something like that.  The detainees woke up at 6 am every morning, did not come back to eat lunch, and at 6 in the evening finally returned.  At the latest, they would return to the camp when it was too dark to see.

4.  Meals
 
"Eating" in the camp really can't be called eating; it was more like pouring food into one's stomach. The entire meal time lasted five minutes.  The quality of food was extremely poor.  In the morning there was only thin gruel and a steamed bun, for lunch and dinner usually there were two steamed buns and a bowl of cabbage soup with some oil floating in it.  In seven months I only ate meat once.

[...]

7. Violence and abuse in camp
 
Abuse within the camp was constant, and it was extremely cruel.  As soon as I entered the camp I was beaten probably dozens of times, beaten until I became incontinent and broke two ribs.  Even now my chest, back, and lower back are constantly in pain.
 
Because those of us in the camps often had to sit on hard boards (the hard wooden beds of the camp, we were not allowed to move an inch) everyday from 6 in the morning until 6 at night, many detainees' backsides became infected.  These detainees could not sit still, and when the guards discovered this they beat them savagely.
 
The administrators sometimes ordered the camp bullies to beat us, and sometimes the administrators beat us themselves.  But no matter who was doing the beating, there was never a reason; it was just because they felt like beating the detainees, tormenting them.  Some detainees were beaten until they went blind, and some were beaten until they went deaf, but this was rare.  I heard that some detainees had been beaten to death, but I never saw this with my own eyes.

***

Daxing District RTL Camp, Beijing

Interview 10: Guo Qinghua (郭清华 ) (f) from Pingtai District, Beijing  

Period of detention in RTL: June 15, 2007, to April 4, 2008

1. Camp size
 
At its peak, the camp had more than 1000 detainees, and the fewest it had was around 300 detainees. Usually there weren't too many detainees, and if there was an excess of detainees they would be sent to other places.

2. Types of detainees
 
Generally speaking, the detainees were petty thieves, prostitutes, gamblers, drug addicts...the largest groups were Falun Gong practitioners and petitioners.  They made up the majority of the detainees.  

3. Working conditions  
 
Normally, there wasn't too much work.  Every day we woke up at 8 o'clock and worked for 5 or 6 hours.  But when there was more work to be done, there was no schedule, and we worked any number of hours.  Our main work was to glue paper bags and file folders, make small banners for advertisements, make elastic cords, and other kinds of work like this.  Newly-arrived detainees were not given a salary, but those who had worked for a long time were given around 100 RMB per month, and those who had been there the longest made no more than 200 RMB per month.

4.  Meals
 
Every day we ate a few vegetables, like cabbage or cauliflower.  In the morning we were given rice gruel and steamed buns, and while there was enough to eat, the food was not good at all.  However, if the camp bullies embezzled part of the funds that should have been used to feed us, then there wasn't enough to eat.  The RTL administration didn't care about this type of thing.  However, each month we were able to eat one meal of dumplings.  

[...]

7. Violence and abuse in camp
 
[…]   The detainees in the camp weren't beaten too often, but Falun Gong practitioners were frequently beaten.  I heard that, before I arrived at the camp, one Falun Gong practitioner had had two ribs broken and a foot pierced, and a few guards were dismissed as a result.  So, by the time I arrived, beatings were already a much rarer phenomenon.

***

Shaanxi Province Women's RTL camp

Interview 11: Feng Xixia (封西霞) (f) from Xian City, Shaanxi Province

Period of detention in RTL: December 18, 2007, to March 17, 2008

1. Camp size  
 
The RTL camp had 5 small work units altogether, and each unit had around 60 people, so the greatest number of detainees was a little over 300, and the smallest number of detainees was around 100.

2. Types of detainees
 
The detainees being re-educated through labor were generally drug addicts, prostitutes, thieves, and people detained for "disturbing public order." The others were petitioners, Falun Gong practitioners and other religious believers.  Of all the detainees, the Falun Gong practitioners were the largest group, next were petitioners, and then the other religious believers.

3. Working conditions  
 
Our main task was making handbags.  Every day we woke up at 6:30 am, washed up, ate breakfast, and by 7:30 we went to the workshop to begin working.
 
Every day we worked nearly 20 hours, not stopping until 3 or 4 am the next morning. We protested, saying that the working hours were too long, that there wasn't enough time to sleep.  The RTL staff said the country doesn't subsidize the RTL camps, so they have to rely on the work of the detainees to make enough money to support the camp and the detainees. The more you work the better you will be able to support yourselves, but if you work less you simply won't be able to survive.

4.  Meals
 

Every day for breakfast we ate a bowl of noodle soup or a bowl of rice gruel with a steamed bun and a few pickled vegetables.  For lunch we ate two steamed buns, sometimes with stir-fried cabbage, sometimes with stir-fried potatoes or turnips.  Whatever cheap things there were to eat, that's what we ate.  They didn't even use any cooking oil.  Furthermore, they only gave us rotten vegetables, never any good ones.
 
[…] However, there was an exception, and that was when the leaders came to visit.  Then, we could eat a little better. Whenever the quality of our meals improved a little, that's when we knew the leaders were visiting.  But this kind of situation was rare.

[...]

6. Visits

Normally, Falun Gong practitioners weren't allowed to have visitors unless they admitted their guilt and worked especially hard.

7. Violence and abuse in camp
 
Ordinarily, the work unit leader and the camp bullies would drag one of us into the bathroom and beat us, or lock us in the bathroom without food and water and force us to stand there and endure the stench.  This kind of abuse happened constantly.  

Detainees in the camp had their legs broken from beatings.  Others, unable to stand the torture, lost their minds and went crazy.

***

Guanshanzi RTL camp, Changtu County, Liaoning Province

Interview 12: Luo Hongshan (罗洪山) (m) from Wafangdian City, Liaoning Province

Period of detention in RTL: March 6, 2001, to March 5, 2004

1. Camp size  
 
There were many, many people at Daguanshan RTL camp, divided into 12 work groups.  The greatest number of detainees was close to 2000, but the average was around 1400 or 1500 people.

2. Types of detainees
 
There were only a few of us petitioners, maybe 3 or 4.  Most of the detainees were Falun Gong practitioners and petty thieves, and there were also drug addicts and brawlers.

3. Working conditions  
 
Guanshanzi RTL camp life wasn't a good life; it was a bitter, dirty, weary life.  It was a life of digging ditches and paving roads.
 
We woke up at 4 or 5 am every morning, and went to work at 6:30 am, working straight until noon.  At the worksite we would make a little food to eat and then go right back to work, laboring straight until 7 or 8 in the evening.  When it was too dark to see, then we would stop.  We really had no notion of time.  
 
Beatings were common, and some detainees were beaten to death.  I know of 7 or 8 detainees on the number 1 middle work unit who were beaten to death.  And this doesn't count those who hung themselves or committed suicide because they couldn't bear the abuse.  I myself was beaten so badly by the guards that I broke 6 ribs.

4.  Meals
 
In the winter, at every meal we were given only one steamed bun made from rotten cornmeal.  This was especially abusive.  The bread was frozen, covered in a thin layer of ice, so hard you could use it beat someone.  For dishes, we were given boiled cabbage cooked in a little bit of salted water.  They never used any cooking oil.  As long as the detainees ate enough to survive, they thought that was ok.  At the beginning of spring they would finally use a little oil, and give us two pieces of steamed bread, so that we could work harder on the job.  But we never ate enough to feel full, no matter what the
season.

7. Violence and abuse in camp  
 
While I was in the camp, the number 1 work team captain Ma beat me six times; Secretary Zhao, 4 times; number 2 work team cadre Gong Wenxue (宫文学) and others used RTL detainees and work unit leader Wang Zhongmin (王忠敏) to beat me 66 times; Meng Qinggang (孟庆刚), 177 times; Li Xudong (李绪东), 266 times, Yang Su (杨苏), 55 times, group leader Chen Shuping (陈淑帄), 46 times.  

They used iron clubs, wooden bats, pick handles, leather belts, and other items of this nature.  They broke six of my ribs, and today I am covered in scars from head to foot.  My leg was broken for many months, but I still had to do heavy work.   
 
All kinds of torture- "taking a plane," "riding a motorcycle," "taking the train," "eating long, thin noodles," "standing on tiptoe at midnight" (these are all nicknames for types of punishment)- were common.  They would make us eat shit and drink urine and call it eating fried dough sticks and drinking wine.  They really were inhuman.  I don't know how many detainees were beaten to death.

 

***
Luyang RTL Administrative Office, Shaanxi Province

Interview 13: Wang Youcheng (王佑盛) (m) from Danfeng County, Shaanxi Province  

Period of detention in RTL: November 7, 2006, to November 29, 2007 (released early for good behavior)

1.  Camp size  
 
While I was there, the greatest number of detainees was greater than 400, while the smallest number was greater than 200.

2. Types of detainees

 
Drug addicts, brawlers, thieves, Falun Gong practitioners, etc. made up most of the detainees.  I was the only petitioner.

3. Working conditions
 
Every day, we woke up at 6 am, and after eating breakfast we went out to the fields to plant vegetables, hoe weeds, etc. The work there was designed to torment us.  When the weather was pleasant and cool, we weren't allowed to work, but when it was hot we were specially sent to work. We weren't even given water to drink, just to punish us.  When we were working in the fields, we weren't allowed to rest at noon, and had to work straight until 4 or 5 in the afternoon.
 
4.  Meals
 
Every day we were given two steamed buns in the morning and a bowl of rice gruel.  For lunch and dinner we were given 2 steamed buns, and vegetables, usually potatoes, cabbage, turnips, eggplant, or other things like these.  But they never used any cooking oil, and from what we were given to eat we could tell what vegetables were cheap at that time.  We never ate enough to feel full, but there was nothing we could do.  No one dared to do anything, because we were all afraid of being beaten.
 
Moreover, every week we were given one meal of noodles, and once a month we were given one or two pieces of fatty meat, but these were always stolen by the camp bullies, and we got nothing to eat.

[...]

7. Violence and abuse in camp
 
 
Our jailer there was extremely ruthless, and often beat us or punished us by making us stand or squat.  We were never given any boiled water to drink.  Though the RTL staff didn't beat us, the camp bullies beat us, and the staff paid the bullies no mind.  Many of us were beaten so badly that our heads and faces became swollen, and so many other detainees suffer the effects today, just like me.  We often
reported to the RTL staff, but they simply paid us no heed.
 
The most startling things was that drug addicts locked in the RTL camp could buy drugs, just as freely and easily as buying other items.

[FDIC Editor’s note: The formatting of the above excerpts has been slightly altered from the original to enable easier comprehension of the material included. To view the full report in its original form, visit: see: http://docs.law.gwu.edu/facweb/dclarke/public/CHRD_RTL_Report.pdf]