NEW YORK, August 19, 2001 (Falun Dafa Information Center) - This weekend Falun Gong practitioners around the world launched demonstrations under the heading of "SOS!" calling for urgent support in rescuing 130 fellow practitioners held captive in China’s notorious Masanjia Labor Camp. The detained practitioners are now entering their third week of hunger strikes. The practitioners began the strikes in response to China’s authorities extending their terms in the camp beyond their original dates.In Washington, D.C., London, Toronto, New York, and elsewhere, individual Falun Gong practitioners have launched hunger strikes of their own, and hundreds have rallied in the form of candlelight vigils. The practitioners, gathered outside local Chinese embassies and consulates, are demanding that China’s communist authorities immediately and unconditionally release the 130 in the Masanjia camp."These are good, innocent people who never should have been imprisoned in the first place," said Mela Wu, a Falun Gong practitioner currently on the second day of a 48-hour hunger strike outside the Chinese consulate in New York. "For China’s authorities to extend these persons’ terms now, when they’ve already suffered so much, is just unthinkable."Falun Gong practitioners outside the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. issued a statement to further explain their appeal: "The purpose of this action is to support the 130 practitioners who have been on hunger strike in China's Masanjia Labor Camp for nearly 20 days, to strongly protest the detention of practitioners beyond the limits of their sentences, and to expose the Chinese regime’s complete disregard for human life and their unwillingness to punish law enforcement officials who violate the law. We are requesting the immediate release of imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners in China."Similar demonstrations involving hundreds are underway in Chicago, San Francisco, Sydney, Australia, Paris, and Gothenburg, Sweden.Horrible SufferingThe Masanjia camp is notorious for the extreme, violent measures it employs to brainwash Falun Gong practitioners. Last October it was reported that camp officers stripped naked 18 female Falun Gong practitioners and threw them into the cells of male convicts.A Washington Post report on August 5 offers a glimpse at the horrors of labor camp imprisonment for those who practice Falun Gong. The Post told the story of one camp survivor, "James" Ouyang, a 35-year-old electrical engineer who was brutalized in a Beijing labor camp for holding fast to his beliefs. While in custody, Ouyang was forced to stand facing a wall for nine days. "If he moved, they shocked him. If he fell down from fatigue, they shocked him. Each morning, he had five minutes to eat and relieve himself. ‘If I didn’t make it, I went in my pants,’ he said. ‘And they shocked me for that, too.’ By the sixth day, Ouyang said, he couldn’t see straight from staring at plaster three inches from his face."According to Falun Gong spokesperson Feng Yuan, the wish to hold the practitioners longer than their prearranged terms reflects the Chinese government’s greatest fear: that the "unreformed," practitioners might reveal to the outside world the horrific, inhuman conditions of the Masanjia camp. Such disclosure would further rupture the image of the camps Chinese authorities have tried to create through staged show tours."Obviously this means the camp has failed to brainwash and break these practitioners—despite their having to endure relentless torture, abuse, and coercion for months on end," said Yuan.According to Yuan, each of the 130 hunger-striking practitioners has been held in Masanjia for at least a year.Since the Chinese government banned the practice of Falun Gong two years ago, more than 20,000 practitioners have been illegally sent to labor camps without trials throughout the country. To date 263 practitioners are known to have died from torture and abuse in custody.