Even More to Masanjia Camp than Chinese News Report Reveals
Notorious Camp a "Pioneer" in Torture and Brainwashing
NEW YORK—As Chinese censors rush to delete mention of a daring 14-page exposé of torture, forced labor, and political persecution at Masanjia Labor camp published in a Chinese magazine last week, the Falun Dafa Information Center urges foreign media to dig deeper, for there is much more to this story.
The article, titled “Secrets of Masanjia Women’s Re-education through Labor Camp Unveiled: the ‘Tiger Bench’ and the ‘Death Bed,’” published by the relatively liberal Lens magazine, is unprecedented for a domestic Chinese news outlet in its detailed reporting of the horrific conditions at Masanjia. But because of the tight censorship surrounding the term “Falun Gong,” conspicuously absent in the article is explicit mention of its practitioners, who have been among the most badly tortured at Masanjia. The article does, however, identify a “special group of people” — communist party propaganda double-speak that really means “Falun Gong practitioners”– who are the primary targets of certain torture and abuse.
Western media now have a critical opportunity to fill in more details.
“The Chinese journalists who wrote this story, those who printed it, and the interviewees themselves have all taken an enormous risk to expose terrible crimes,” says Falun Gong spokesperson Erping Zhang. “It is imperative that we in the West don’t let their efforts be expended, their risks taken, in vain. There is more to this story and lives literally hang in the balance. At this moment, hundreds of innocent Falun Gong practitioners and others continue to be held and tortured there.”
Masanjia: A Training Ground for Torture, Systematic “Brainwashing”
For over a decade, Falun Gong eyewitnesses emerging from the camp and their family members have recounted the systematic use of torture employed there.
Indeed, Masanjia is known as one of the country’s most notorious camps.
It most recently made headlines in December 2012 when an Oregon woman found a hand-written letter in broken English allegedly from the camp in a Kmart holiday decorations package. “People who work here, suffer punishment 1-3 years averagely,” the letter read. “Many of them are Falun Gong practitioners.”
Documented abuses go beyond forced labor and torture for not meeting work quotas. Female Falun Gong detainees were reportedly pushed into male criminal cells in 2001 and gang-raped. Meanwhile, personnel from other detention facilities in China have come to Masanjia for training in innovative “transformation” methods aimed at breaking the will of Falun Gong practitioners through torture and brainwashing. The goal of these abuses is to force practitioners to renounce their belief and pledge allegiance to the Communist Party.
“Other labor camps make obedient prisoners beat the non-obedient ones,” says one Falun Gong practitioner who was imprisoned in Masanjia for eight years and now lives in New York. “Masanjia has professionals who do the torturing.”
In advance of the Beijing Olympics, sources inside China reported Falun Gong practitioners from around the country were being transported there, a fact later confirmed by detainees who were imprisoned there in 2008. The overseas Chinese-language Falun Gong website Minghui has published over 8,100 reports documenting or discussing the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners and others held at the Masanjia camp since 2000.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Religious Freedom transmitted one such case to the Chinese government in a 2009 urgent appeal on behalf of a male Falun Gong practitioner held at the camp: “Mr. Yu was forced to sign a suicide letter, before he was beaten, including on his head with a steel baton, hung, and shocked with electric batons. As a result, he bled severely and lost consciousness for more than a week. Repeated requests by his family to visit him have been denied.” (news)
In reporting on the story and any follow-up investigation, the Falun Dafa Information Center urges journalists to be cautious of potential efforts by officials to cover-up the extent of the crimes committed against Falun Gong practitioners at the camp.
On April 26, 2001, the Falun Dafa Information Center reported that Masanjia was among a few facilities being readied to receive foreign and Chinese media to “interview” selected Falun Gong practitioners. Almost a month later reporters were indeed invited to the camp to witness freshly painted walls and prisoners decked out in new jumpsuits complete with their names written on the back in English, enjoying an apparently clean and healthy environment—all in stark contrast with the horrific abuses reported by dozens of individuals who had previously been held and tortured at Masanjia.
In news reports about the recent Lens magazine story, some Western outlets have republished photos from that “show tour” (view photo) without conveying any indication of the questionable circumstances under which they were taken.
“Make no mistake,” says Zhang, “the authorities will go to extraordinary lengths to cover up the real nature of Masanjia, so a timely and tenacious effort by Western media is needed to fully disclose the horrific abuses that have occurred behind Masanjia’s walls.”