Testimony of Brainwashing at the Beijing Women’s Forced Labor Camp
In July 2003, I walked out of the Beijing Women’s Forced Labor Camp. It marked the end of my two-year-and-four-months hellish ordeal!
Since July 1999, for more than seven years, the Communist regime has employed all of the most evil methods to brutally persecute Falun Gong practitioners. The labor camp is one facility where the persecution is most widespread, most concentrated, most frequent and most ruthless. It is a living hell. Countless Falun Gong practitioners were sent there and held over long periods of time. They are physically tortured and mentally tormented as they are monitored around the clock and brainwashed by various cruel methods. The terror at the labor camp still makes me shudder. The evil Communist regime’s officials convey this message via violent brainwashing, “You cannot live your way! You must live as we tell you. You must dump what’s in your head and replace it with what we allow you to think. You must replace your belief with the belief we give you!”
After I broke free from the labor camp with the power of righteous thoughts, a powerful force drove me to write about my experiences. I still feel heart-piercing anguish when I relive the nightmare in my mind, but the environment in which I live reminds me of what I once went through, and it reminds me of my responsibilities. After I went home, officials from my workplace and from the street Party Committee still kept me under surveillance, as they do to this day. I encountered various types of interference when writing this article from memory. I was interrupted many times during the writing process. I tried my best to eliminate the interference and record some parts of my personal persecution experience at the labor camp, though they are only fragments.
All names in this article are real, as it will assist in the exposure of and opposition to the persecution, and also calling for an end to the persecution and investigation of the perpetrators.
Through this article, I record the facts and the period in time that they happened, and if they are still occurring.
1. A Wicked, Complete Brainwashing Mechanism
As of early 2000, large groups of Falun Gong practitioners were being illegally sent to custody centers, labor camps, and prisons. The wicked Party misused the manpower at labor camps to suppress and kill a large group of kind and innocent Falun Gong practitioners who believe in Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance. Everything that is done at a labor camp centers on “reform.” This reform is spiritual murder, as it aims to destroy one’s belief, so one is spiritually dead. The labor camps also carry out the “physical destruction” part of the Party’s policy regarding the practitioners. They have further developed the existing “psychological reform,” a violation of human rights, into endless mental torment and physical abuse. Thus, a complete “reform” system was put into operation since the early stage of the persecution.
(a) Lots of fabricated and slanderous brainwashing information. Since 2000, the labor camps sold several books called “Assorted Teaching Material on Falun Gong” in which they viciously attack Master and Dafa with lies. They force every practitioner to buy the entire series. This mind-poisoning information is all over the labor camp.
(b) Deceive and motivate the entire society to participate in brainwashing. The government deceives and encourages social groups and individuals to persecute Falun Gong practitioners.
What is more evil is that the camp officials force determined practitioners’ workplaces to suspend practitioners’ salary or fire them. If the practitioner is the breadwinner of the family, the whole family will suffer. They lie to the practitioners’ families and trick them into crying at the labor camp. The families sometimes kneel and beg the practitioner to give up her belief. They verbally attack the practitioner, or throw themselves against a wall and threaten divorce, which assert tremendous pressure on the practitioner.
(c) Step-by-step reform procedure. The officials have a very evil system that goes step by step and pushes one down the path of no return. Once a practitioner makes the smallest compromise, the officials will continue to torture and torment him to make sure he follows the reform procedures and completely betrays his belief.
The first thing a practitioner is forced to do after entering the labor camp is to write a guarantee statement that promises not to practice Falun Gong, not to teach Falun Gong to others, and not to hurt or kill himself. Dafa practitioners would never hurt or kill themselves; this item is there to make sure Dafa practitioners who go on hunger strikes to protest the persecution do not go against the order of labor camps.
The second step: the practitioner is forced to write a repentance statement. They force the practitioner to say that peaceful appeal, truth clarification and distribution of flyers is illegal, and he is guilty of disrupting social stability.
The third step: the practitioner is forced to write a statement to announce that one has broken away from Dafa and Master.
The fourth step: the practitioner is forced to write an article to “expose” and “attack” Master and Dafa. The officials inspect the practitioners’ articles, and if they think the practitioner’s thinking process is not up to their standards, they will decide the practitioner has not been completely “reformed” and will repeatedly force the practitioners to revise or rewrite the article. They also appoint specialized personnel to brainwash and help revise the statement. Someone will write the statement in case the practitioner is illiterate, and make the practitioner sign her name. They do not rest until the practitioner’s statement is considered “qualified.”
The fifth step: a large meeting is held to “expose” and “attack” Master and Dafa. The entire process is filmed and kept on file. The reformed practitioner is forced to read aloud her statements in front of the whole division. The labor camp assigns special personnel to videotape the ceremony and put it on file. After all of these procedures, they continue to observe and test the practitioner for a period of time in order to solidify the “fruit” of reform. When the officials think it’s time, they carry out the last step.
The sixth step: test and acceptance. The people who administer “test and acceptance” are usually officials from the Education Section higher ranks. They usually ask the practitioner questions and judge, based on her answers, whether she is completely reformed, half-reformed, or pretending to be reformed. They decide whether to accept her answers as pass or fail. Those who pass usually receive a sentence reduction of from two months to seven months, most often two months. If the person actively assists the evildoers, helps brainwash other practitioners and attack other practitioners, she will receive a sentence reduction of from three months to seven months, in addition to rewards such as being allowed to meet with family during holidays and even go for a visit home. If the person fails the test, she will be further brainwashed and placed under constant watch until she is completely reformed. If the person changes her mind some time after reform, such as by publishing a solemn announcement to void the statements, the officials will deprive her of a normal life and throw her back into round-the-clock physical and mental abuse.
(d) The labor camps use two groups of people to aid them to persecute Dafa practitioners. The above describes the format and methods of reform, and the following tells the direct persecution by the guards. The labor camp sets a reform quota of more than 95%, and this standard is connected with the guards’ bonus. It is said that a guard will receive more than 1,000 yuan for reforming one practitioner. As more and more Dafa practitioners are arrested, more and more money is issued to the guards. Financial interest is a strong incentive that drives the guards to persecute Dafa practitioners.
In order to improve the reform rate, aside from personally persecuting the practitioners, the guards also use two types of people to assist them in the process. The first type of people consists of detainees – other than Falun Gong practitioners – such as drug addicts, prostitutes, pornography traffickers, robbers, burglars, thieves, and other criminals. The guards rely most heavily on the drug addicts. The drug addicts used to be the biggest headache for camp officials as they have a terrible reputation and are difficult to manage. The guards used to call them scum. These addicts are surprised and excited at the appearance of Dafa practitioners because they found themselves in a different light–they became trusted partners for the guards, as the officials seek assistance from them during persecution.
The guards pick every single one of the most vicious criminals and assign them as class heads, to surround and attack Dafa practitioners. With instruction, acceptance, tacit approval, hints and rewards from the guards, these criminals quickly became a special group during the detention of Dafa practitioners. Because the guards use and trust them, they enjoy a relaxed environment and privileges not given to labor camp detainees. They don’t have to work and are not restricted by camp rules and regulations. They can eat and sleep any time they want, and they steal, intercept, and throw away Dafa practitioners’ belongings. They verbally and physically attack people. The guards order them to watch and assault Dafa practitioners and notify the guards of the practitioners’ actions, and they do everything the guards cannot do themselves, including various schemes and tortures.
The second type of people the guards use are collaborators, people who were once Falun Gong practitioners but are “reformed” and now actively assist the guards to reform other practitioners. These people can also do what the guards want but cannot do themselves.
First, the collaborators try to confuse the practitioners by misinterpreting and twisting the meaning of Dafa. They are well educated and boast of their self-proclaimed high-level cultivation status. They are the most deceptive and become the ones who most directly target the “reform” of Dafa practitioners.
Second, they await the guards’ every call 24 hours a day. They don’t leave “their post,” have “no off-duty” and are ready to attack at any time on orders from the guards.
Third, they spy on any practitioner who pretends to reform, who announces that her statements are void, or who delivers Master’s articles. One practitioner who used the time allotted for brainwashing to share experiences with me was later never seen again because the collaborators reported our meeting to the camp officials. The collaborators spy on practitioners, find out information, gain practitioners’ trust and report to the guards. They live among practitioners and use every opportunity to create conflict. They provide the guards with firsthand information on the practitioners’ every thought and move. To be more accurate, they are devils sleeping alongside the practitioners. The collaborators are able to persecute the practitioners in a way that even exceeds the ability of the guards.
When these two groups of people are organized, coordinated and ordered by the guards, the evil acts committed by them all together are unscrupulous and without restraint.
2. Devious, Wicked Psychiatric Consultation
The labor camp carries out systematic and continuous mental torment of Dafa practitioners through theoretic guidance. There is a “Psychiatric Consultation Room” at Division 3, and someone said all guards at Division 3 have studied psychology. Normally, psychiatric consultations are aimed to reduce stress, resolve mental suffering and remove mental barriers so people can regain mental health. Yet, the camp staff uses their knowledge of psychology as a way to “open up” Dafa practitioners, which goes against the true purpose of psychiatric consultation by turning it into a form of vicious mental torture.
This mental torture lasts throughout the entire time the practitioners are held at the labor camp. It is continuous and systematic. The camp staff observes the practitioners’ emotions, and studies the practitioners’ thoughts and actions with the evil motives and the eyes of professional trainers. They probe the practitioners’ hopes and wants at the labor camp, and every practitioner’s willpower and endurance, their personality, strength and weakness, hobbies and pet peeves, and things that make them happy or sad. They also have detailed information on every practitioner’s academic profile, career profile, work places and achievements. They know everything about the practitioners’ parents, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, children and relatives, and so on.
As soon as a practitioner arrives at the camp, the camp staff at all divisions makes the practitioner take a written psychiatric test. They analyze and study the practitioner based on the test results, and they make a fundamental decision on the practitioner and sort the practitioners into several types. They then make a step-by-step brainwashing plan, based on the characteristics of each individual practitioner before they make the first “breakthrough.” At this point they know every tidbit about the practitioner’s objective existence, except what goes on inside the practitioner’s head.
During the following months, the camp staff puts into use every weapon in their arsenal of mental torment. Dafa practitioners must persevere solely based on their righteous belief and understanding of the Fa. They target the practitioners’ weaknesses and find a crack. They decide when to pressure you in a certain way, when to treat you with fake kindness, when to teach you a lesson, when to get your parents and siblings to attack you, when to make you feel guilty through manipulating your children, and when to make your spouse pressure you and threaten divorce. They inflict psychological damage on the practitioners while calling it psychiatric consultation. This direct evildoing continues until the last minute of the practitioner’s stay at the labor camp.
I refused to reform and as a result was held in a solitary confinement cell for a long time. The guards watched me around the clock and ordered the inmates to secretly write “surveillance dairies” in which they recorded my mental state after I was rudely awakened in the morning, how I ate and drank water, how many times I used the restroom, what I said during brainwashing sessions and what I said the rest of the time, the issues to which I was sensitive, receptive or resistant, and the things for which I expressed joy, sadness or anger. They secretly recorded my every emotion and every act and reported to the guards once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Sometimes they held several “attack meetings” and “education and assistance meetings” in one day, during which the guards listened to the inmates report every aspect of my life that day. They would quickly adjust their brainwashing plan and change their tactics if a sudden problem arose.
They based their policies on the most recent information on my thoughts and decided on the spot to put me under “strict control,” savagely beat or torture me, or scream that they would make me feel “worse than dead.” On the other hand, they showered me with insincere praise, sent me food and drink, and brought me out of solitary confinement. The camp head and all guards would celebrate my birthday, and sometimes they even threw two birthday parties for me.
Besides making wild claims and threats, the guards listen, observe and instruct the on-site collaborators to administer brainwashing. After a while the guards secretly call out the collaborators and inmates and give them tips. When the collaborators and inmates return to the cell, they would change their faces and start beating and kicking the practitioners. I endured frenzied torture at the hands of these people because I persisted in my belief.
When I accidentally discovered their “surveillance diary” I was shocked and infuriated by this egregious tactic. They recorded my every word and move, my facial expressions, how many sips of water I drank, how many times I visited the restroom, and other things. I stopped talking to them and looked at the evildoers with a blank face to destroy their omnipresent control.
At fist, this psychological attack inflicted me with tremendous anguish. I felt an invisible but incredibly heavy pressure weighing down on me when my every thought and act was recorded. It’s easy to make someone snap if one is placed in this existence for a long time. It’s possible not to say a single word for one day or for one month, but it’s difficult not to suffer a mental breakdown if one does not say a single word during over two years of detention! An ordinary person would either lose his ability to think rationally or break down completely.
I was changed into a completely different person after two years. Recently, I accessed all of the information written about me on the Minghui/Clearwisdom website and saw this passage, “She was persecuted over a long period of time at the labor camp…but none of these could make her change her belief. Finally, a guard said, ‘We can’t do anything with her.’ I saw for myself that she wasn’t allowed to go to sleep until 2:00 a.m. every day and even when she went to the toilet, she was followed and watched by assigned inmates. When I saw her, she already looked heavy-hearted, with blank eyes and halting speech.” It’s true that I experienced slurred speech, slow movements and blank looks. However, I had Master and the Fa in my heart at all times. I got through it with courage and determination. I did not go insane. I recovered quickly through Fa study and doing Dafa exercises soon after I left the labor camp.
In order to gain maximum control over the practitioners and coerce the practitioners to reform, and to also make sure reformed practitioners do not void their statements and return to Dafa, the camp staff requires Dafa practitioners to write a statement about their life, including stories from their childhood.
The practitioners naively pour their hearts out on paper, recounting their experiences and spiritual changes before and after they practiced Dafa, and deeply repent the mistakes they made in the past and use this opportunity to bring closure to a time that is too painful to look back on, and to express remorse for their mistakes and therefore find some comfort within their hearts. The camp staff, however, uses this document as a lethal weapon with which to strike the practitioners whenever they see fit. They even publicly ridicule the practitioners with innocent childhood mistakes in order to maximally traumatize the victims and warn the other practitioners. It wasn’t until then that the practitioners realized they were deceived and used. This tactic is indeed despicable!
Is murder considered the most evil? Is physical damage considered the only form of harm? No! When a person’s thinking is controlled, her innocence is violated, and the small and last space to think freely is invaded. When her belief is killed – what is more cruel, excruciating and miserable than this? It is the biggest crime. I know that the mental breakdown of a practitioner is the direct result of psychological devastation and spiritual murder. During the time I was held at the labor camp, I heard more than once about this – that this practitioner suffered a mental breakdown at this and that division — it was too many to count. At the Group Drill Division I saw Liu Shuhua, who was tortured to the point of insanity. I have since been unable to erase this from my mind.
We became pure through cultivating Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance. A pure mind manifests itself among people as purity and persistence in upholding the truth. But when our belief is defamed and murdered over a long time and it is peeled from our heart through violent means, “insanity” becomes a most desperate protest and tormented appeal; it is a living death. By having watched Liu Shuhua, I am keenly aware of the pain associated with this spiritual murder that defies description.
I cannot in a single article describe this degenerated and wicked “psychiatric consultation” because this grave spiritual destruction and spiritual murder proceeds from beginning to end to control and run through the whole process of this evil central nervous system – forced brainwashing and “reform.”
3. Compelled to Write Statements Three Times
The evildoers know very well that for Dafa practitioners, Master and Dafa are supremely sacred and inviolable. This is also what they fear the most. They try extremely hard to find a breaking point and use various wicked schemes to destroy Dafa practitioners’ willpower and belief in Master and Dafa.
They used omnipresent mind control to torment the practitioners. They forced wicked theories upon practitioners and maximally tormented us psychologically. They forced us to accept a state of mind they thought worked best to destroy us, when we would feel the most mental anguish. They claimed practitioners who refused to “reform” were “possessed by animal spirits” and “mentally manipulated.” They screamed that we have ways to beat off your “animal spirits” and break your “psychological manipulation.” They actually don’t believe in animal possession themselves, otherwise they wouldn’t dare to do bad things. They use it as an excuse to carry out the mental persecution.
During the first two months at the labor camp, the evildoers ordered the collaborators to brainwash and take turns attacking me around the clock. They let me sleep for only two to four hours each day, to exhaust me mentally and physically, without giving me a second of a break. When I refused to accept their devious theories and remained rock-solid, they lost patience and turned into monsters. The collaborators shouted in my face, “We’ll see how long you’ll last. You have to reform, whether you want to or not! If you don’t reform, we’ll make you! It’s a battle of good versus evil between us and you!”
They persecuted me as a group by coercing me to read articles that slander Master and Dafa. They wrote curse words against Master and Dafa on my face and clothes. They also wrote them on slips of paper and hung them from my clothes. They drew a circle less than a foot in diameter on the ground and forced me to stand inside it, and wrote vicious words attacking Master and Dafa outside the circle. For a while they didn’t let me sleep or even close my eyes day and night. They made me stand up straight. I would accidentally step on those slanderous words when I dosed off and waddled outside the circle. They did all of these things in order to achieve control over my mind.
When all of their tactics failed, the evildoers said to me, “You suffer from the most serious case of psychological manipulation as well as animal possession, and that is why you are most stubborn!” Those wicked people said that they must break the “shell” that exerts mind control over me and beat out the animals that possessed me before I would take the first step toward reform. They escalated the persecution of me. They used violence, framed me and grabbed my hand to write guarantee statements and vulgar words cursing Master and Dafa, making it appear that I had compromised, hoping I would break down and submit to their will.
Violence thus began.
One day three female drug addicts named Duan Huizhen, Liu Fengqin and Luo Jinfeng swaggered into my room, although the labor camp policy clearly states visits to other cells without permission is strictly forbidden. All three of them came at once. I had a bad gut feeling. The collaborators assigned to watch me put a piece of paper and a pen on the bed board and said to me, “Let’s put everything on the table. You didn’t reform, even after such a long time, so you must take punishment since you didn’t take our kind advice. You are controlled most severely, and the government [guards] told us to help you. You must write it [guarantee statement] now and we won’t do anything to you. I’ll ask you again: will you write it?”
I said, “I already told you a long time ago I won’t write anything!”
“Fine, then we’ll just make you!”
The three addicts and three collaborators, Hao Lihua, Chen and Wang Yan ran up to me, pushed me to the ground and held me in place. One person stood on either side of me, pinning down my knees with their feet. Two other people grabbed my shoulders and arms, and one person stood behind me grabbing my neck. Yet another person grabbed my hair. They held my body because they were afraid if I had struggled I would not write the statement.
They put a blank piece of paper on the floor, and one person grabbed my hand that I had made into a fist, and tried to put the pen in my hand by violently poking my hand, to open it. With the point of the pen, they poked a hole in the area between my thumb and index finger and it bled. They seized my arms and hands with a death grip and pushed my hand downward, toward the paper on the floor. I flung my arm and the pen flew out. They picked it up and stabbed my hand with it repeatedly. I ignored the pain and tried to my best to free myself. I pulled my arm back in the opposite direction where they were trying to make me move. They spent a lot of time, but I didn’t write a single word. The six of them were exasperated and all laid on me. They used all of their strength trying to manipulate my body, right arm and right hand. They were very strong and energetic as they got plenty of food and sleep each day, but they still could not make me write it.
I was fighting with all my might. I had no other thought but “I cannot let them succeed.” They sweated and panted heavily, but the paper was only filled with squiggly lines that didn’t make sense. They knelt on my body and starting beating and twisting me. I shouted in order to expose their crime. Drug addict Liu Jinfeng hurriedly shut the windows, and the others viciously shoved a towel used to mop the floor into my mouth.
I knew I was going against six people, but I must persevere until the end. Even if I had died I would never let the evildoers write slanderous words attacking Master and Dafa through my hand. I struggled against them, and my hand was bleeding everywhere from being stabbed and scratched. They frenetically wrestled me, and we rolled on the floor. I was gagged with a dirty towel and I was soaked in sweat but I still persisted, and the paper had only random lines on it.
I felt none of the exhaustion accumulated over the previous days and had only one thought in my mind, “I absolutely cannot write a single word!” I’m still amazed that I had the strength to resist them and persisted until the end with such fortitude. They used up all of their energy but still could not achieve their goal. Eventually they gave up. They got up from the floor, cursing.
The guards and collaborators were resentful. They clenched their teeth and screamed, saying they must “fix” me. With orders from the guards, these six people went ahead and violently attacked me two more times, each time more sadistic than the last. They failed all three times. My mouth was bleeding from being rubbed with a towel, and my knees were injured from being stomped on. My back was sprained during the struggle, and my right hand was bleeding and ulcerated from being stabbed repeatedly. My right arm shook uncontrollably, and tufts of my hair were pulled out. They couldn’t get anything from me after three attempts. They looked at the paper filled with chaotic lines, although the paper was almost reduced to a pulp and screamed, “Look, what this looks like!”
I said, “It’s nothing! If it is really the words you forced me to write, you would have committed a huge crime! Besides, you wrote it, and I didn’t!” I was calm and collected. They cursed me but couldn’t do anything about it.
I felt the crucial importance of willpower after resisting three incidents of violent coercion with my life. During the long struggles, if the thought of giving up had flashed across my mind for even one instant, I would have broken down completely! When our willpower is strong, the evildoers can’t do anything to us. I was physically weak at the time after a long period of malnutrition and sleep deprivation. My body trembled like a leaf in the wind after each struggle, but still I had unimaginable power each time. Usually I would not be able to fight off even one of them, not to mention the frenzied attack of all six. It would have been beyond me! As a disciple of Dafa, however, I know that Master had borne everything for me and helped me through it, because I had determination!
At first I didn’t believe the guards wearing badges would instruct common criminals to beat me. I could not accept the psychological torment and physical torture as well as insults to my dignity as a human being. I looked for an opportunity to escape during all three struggles. I wrestled myself free and ran out the door or I shouted, hoping the guards would come and stop the atrocity.
Once I broke free and ran outside. When I described the violence to the guards on duty, they looked indifferent and listened half-heartedly. One guard stood up and walked away. Their office was only a few steps away from my cell. They heard my voice and protests, but they ignored me. Why? They had themselves meticulously arranged the assaults and instructed the inmates to carry them out. When I showed them the hole on my hand and my bleeding mouth, they coldly peered at me and smirked.
I suddenly felt the shame of having been deceived. Human nature and conscience were being destroyed here, the law was being unscrupulously violated here, and I felt so stupid!
The collaborators and drug addicts yanked me back into the cell right in front of the guards saying, “So you are appealing against us? Who do you think you are? You can’t take it anymore? ‘Reform’ if you can’t bear it! If you don’t, you’ll get something much worse later on, and this is nothing compared to what’s to come!”
Collaborator Wang Yan, who said I was fine-skinned and therefore would not last long commented, “Liu Shaoqi [former Chinese president who was tortured to death during the Cultural Revolution] held a high position and he had to bow his head. Who do you think you are? You are fighting against something much bigger than yourself! You won’t like what’s going to happen to you! Do you want to oppose the Party? Hahaha!”
A drug addict said, “You have pretty good endurance, but you will simply have to reform in the end, no matter how good you are! I’ve seen too many like you. If you don’t reform we will slowly kill you!”
I wiped away sweat with my trembling arm and bloody hand and I quickly subdued the anger in my mind. Instead, I felt great compassion, tolerance and fortitude growing. Although I had been sent to custody centers several times before and had similar experiences, I still had illusions about the Communist Party, which boasts of greatness, glory and righteousness. The inhumane treatment and humiliation at the labor camp had changed my perceptions from shock and sadness to courageously facing the tribulations with determination.
4. Torture Under the Scorching Sun
(a) “You have only one way to go”
Beijing is an oven in August and September. The drilling ground at the labor camp was dry and hot. Heat waves bounced around. I felt as if a little spark would set off a major fire by kindling the air particles.
Someone shouted, “Zhang Yijie, come out.” I walked out after I had already gone through individual military training for an entire morning. It was past lunchtime and everyone was taking a nap. I saw six inmates standing on the drilling ground. They looked like they were waiting for me. I joined the group, and a guard started putting us through exercises. The inmates made some noises and were clearly unhappy about having to do drills at midday when the scorching sun was at its worst.
Beads of sweat streamed down our faces. The robbers, thieves and drug addicts could barely take this kind of suffering. They started swearing. The guard appointed inmate Hong to train me one-on-one and told her to be “strict” with me. The inmates now realized they were accompanying me in the drill only because I had not “reformed.” They immediately turned against me. I knew the guard was using the inmates to torture me and incited hatred of me, by forcing them to go through the drill with me.
Hong began to train me. The guard went into the shade. Hong barely kept her anger to herself. She shouted arrhythmic orders in a strange tone. After 30 minutes she had reached her limits, and the guard finally came out of the shade. Hong thought the guard was going to take her place, but instead the guard told her to train all seven of us. The guard was trying her best to exhaust the inmates’ patience.
The inmates were tired and furious. They purposely bumped against me, kicked me and said, “So, you haven’t reformed. You must have a screw loose in your head! Let me tell you, you’ll have the time of your life if you don’t reform!”
They vented all of their frustration and anger on me. Hong kept kicking me saying, “I am telling you to reform now! Why do you refuse to reform after everyone else has reformed? I’ll teach you a good lesson next time. The government [guards] won’t let you off the hook. You’ll see!”
A short break turned into a group assault. They hit and kicked me. The guard pretended to look away, as this was exactly their plan.
Hong said, “Are you going to reform or not? You’re making me suffer with you! Look, all these people are baking under the sun just because of you! Are you happy now?”
I said to Hong calmly and slowly, “I didn’t make you come. You came willingly to bake under the sun.” She froze, and then she glared at me and realized what was really happening.
The labor camp officials have countless methods to torture Falun Gong practitioners and have absolutely no scruples when abusing Falun Gong practitioners as they know the practitioners won’t fight back. They do, however, approach the true criminals with caution and sometimes let the criminals get away with things because they didn’t want trouble for themselves. After my conversation with Hong, all of the inmates refused to go to the drilling ground.
The guards had no choice but to drill me themselves at another place. They took me to a sidewalk completely exposed to the sun on the east side of the building. Four head guards – Gao, Wang Yu, Yang Jie – and deputy division head Wei Chunhong took turns putting me through punishment, which they call “training.” Army formation exercises are used as a way to torture “major targets” [Falun Gong practitioners] at the labor camp.
They asked me countless times, “Reform or no?” I answered countless times, “Impossible!”
Because of my answer they coerced and tortured me more often than I can remember. They made me walk back and forth hundreds of times on the 200 ft. path. They made me do different military steps, including walking and running, and turning left and right. The guards stayed in the shade of the tree while shouting commands. When she grew tired she ordered me to stand in military postures. I was hot, drowsy, hungry and thirsty and exhausted beyond description. Every minute felt like a year. My vision became blurry, and sweat streamed down my neck and back. My shirt and pants were soaked. The little bit of sleep, scrap of food and sips of water I was given that day had long been used up under the sweltering heat and physical torture. I propped myself up through sheer willpower. I encouraged myself to never bow to the evildoers by constantly reaffirming my righteous belief in Master and Dafa.
They saw that I was extremely weak and tried again and again to “reform” me. I thought, “How can you understand the mind of a Dafa disciple?” I knew very well at the time that I must be mentally prepared to face the upcoming days with a strong will. The tortures they had put me through were only the beginning. As long as I persisted in Dafa cultivation and refused to reform I would face all forms of evil and torment at the labor camp. They would undoubtedly resort to crueler means to destroy me. I told myself, “I must be tough. Reform is never for me! I have only one path, to practice Dafa with determination! There is no other path or choice. There is no suffering that is too great for me, a Dafa practitioner! I’ve already cast aside thoughts of life and death. What else is there to fear? Therefore, there is no tribulation that is too great for me!”
I cannot recall how long I was standing there. The guards took a long break, and after their rest they told me to do a slowed down version of a goose step by raising my arm and leg and keeping them in place for a long time. I was forced to stand on one leg and keep the other leg at a certain height and angle and switch to the other leg after a period of time. After several minutes I was sweating profusely. My entire body shook and I was staggering. Each time before I was about to collapse I put down the raised leg to support my body. I could not stand for the length of time they required of me, so they forced me to keep doing the same exercise over and over. Eventually I became dehydrated and felt as if I had been roasted dry and completely powerless. With a loud noise I collapsed on the ground. I picked myself up and fell again and struggled to get up, only to fall down again.
I remembered Master’s words,
“Each and every barrier must be broken through,
And everywhere does evil lurk.” (“Tempering the Will” from Hong Yin)
At first I thought, “Are there going to be that many barriers? Are there going to be that many evils?” Now I realize there are indeed many barriers and lots of evils! It’s up to me to figure out how to break through the barriers and defeat the evil!
The head guards were tired and furious. They said to me, “Zhang Yijie, why are you doing this to yourself? Fine, feel free to wrestle us. I’ll have to see what you’re made of. You’ll have to endure if you don’t reform. Don’t you [Falun Gong practitioners] talk about endurance? You have to be trained this way if you refuse to reform! Look at you. Your face is white as a sheet and you are in terrible shape. How long can you go on like this?”
They reminded me several times, “You are different from everyone else. You can get out of here if you reform. One practitioner from a division was taken out after she reformed. Everyone in your division has reformed. You are the only one left. Forget about ever getting out if you don’t reform. No one can get out without becoming reformed first. You can’t get out via any social relationships. You’ll get a sentence extension and the big tortures. That’s what you’ll get!”
I said, “I never thought about getting out through any relations. I wouldn’t be here in the first place if I wanted to get out through any relations. Since you arrested me and took me here, I never thought about getting my freedom by making compromises with you!”
I fixed my eyes on the head guards and said slowly, “Do you know that you also have to endure and pay for everything that you are doing to me right now? Because good is rewarded, and evil will reap its own peril. You can savagely beat me, torture me, take food and water away from me, bake me under the sun, drill me endlessly, and you can even take away my life, but you cannot take away my soul. None of you can change my mind and my belief, and my thoughts are dictated by my belief!”
When torture failed to subdue me, even more ruthless tortures followed. A deputy division head and three head guards took turns drilling me day after day. Each session ended only when I could no longer get up from the ground. I was surprised that I was able to get through all of it.
They never forgot to torment me psychologically at the same time as they pushed me to my physical limit. They made sure I suffered even worse mental anguish than the heat and exhaustion under the sun.
(b) “Sing a song!”
One day during the drill, guard Wang Yu said, “Zhang Yijie, stop and sing a song!” I thought, “Singing is a beautiful thing. It can help people adjust and relax them. But who has the heart to sing in this devil’s den?” I refused, saying I didn’t know how to sing. Wang Yu said in an authoritative tone, “Of course you do, everyone does!” I think she was talking about “The Same Song.” I firmly refused to sing that particular song as I truly hated it.
I remember that I became familiar with this song under unique circumstances. I was forcibly abducted by officers from the Security Bureau inside the government compound under broad daylight on January 3, 2001. I was taken to a brainwashing class held at the Xinan Labor Camp, by an Office of the Central Government’s Party Committee where they tried to reform me. I fought against the persecution with everything I had. I went on a hunger strike and refused to listen, talk or read anything they gave me. They held me at the brainwashing class for 15 days.
One day they brought several collaborators from the labor camp and said the collaborators were going to sing for me. They introduced the collaborators to me saying, “This is a Ms. X from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. This is a professional singer, and this is Ms. Y., a state class one actress.”
They held a score in their hands and said they were going to sing for me. They sang “The Same Song.” The professional singer said to me, “You’ll love this song! All Falun Gong practitioners love to sing this song!” I remained silent. I refused to learn the song. Besides, the lyrics were revolting. They sang it several times and stopped singing when they failed to detect any interest from me. Several of them talked to me, trying to reform me, but I didn’t answer them. They were later taken away.
The singer was right. Everyone who reformed at the labor camp loved to sing “The Same Song.” They sang it during the exercises, during contests, during work, during large meetings and small meetings. They sang it before meetings and after meetings. They always cry when they sing the song, and they would cry as they sang it. Everyone was weeping and wailing after they started singing the song.
I saw the first of these “choruses” at a camp-wide meeting held for [current and former] Falun Gong practitioners. I was shocked by the crying that filled the entire auditorium. I analyzed the lyrics and tone of the song and understood why the practitioners who were “reformed” cried, and why I hated the song. The song lyrics speak of time, hopes, attachments, losses, sorrows and an inexplicable evil substance. Only those who were crying know what else was in that song.
A plethora of feelings struck me at that moment, sadness, pity, and anger. The crying only encouraged the evildoers and heightened the evil atmosphere at the meeting. The evildoers on the platform and in other parts of the auditorium were smug, and the crying was a demonstration of their achievement to reform practitioners. They announced a brief intermission and made the practitioners finish singing the song while crying.
I was indignant. What is there to be proud of when coerced reform is done only through physical torture and mental persecution? Did they convince people through good acts or the law? Who can say that the gut-wrenching cry is not a most desperate protest against the evildoers?
I’ve always hated that song since. The evildoers made everyone sing this song on all occasions. To put it simply, they wanted to make everyone cry. I called it “the devil’s song” and never hummed a single note of it in any situation.
Some labor camp officials said that Dafa practitioners who didn’t reform like to sing “The Plateaus of Qinghai-Tibet.” Indeed, the same belief in Dafa gave us the same interlinked mind. I was deeply attracted to this song when I heard it for the first time and learned it while being held at a Custody Center in Guangzhou. When I felt lonely or sad, I quietly sang this song in my mind. The broad and lofty tune made me feel an infinite mystery and wonders of the universe. It awakened distant memories and hopes, thereby encouraging me to overcome difficulties and persevere until the end.
Guard Wang Yu didn’t ask me to sing “The Same Song.” She said, “Zhang Yijie, sing ‘Mom is the Best in the World’.” I immediately knew what she was after. The worst tactic from the evildoers at the labor camp was to destroy practitioners’ wills by mentioning our children. They try to make us miss our children and families and then accuse us of being heartless and of abandoning our families. They tell us how difficult life is for our families, how much our children miss their mothers, and how pitiful the little kids are, in order to make us feel guilty, blame ourselves for being kept away from our families and make us miss our families terribly so they can destroy our willpower. They succeeded in beating down many practitioners with this tactic, and this song had become their trump card. When practitioners sang this song they would start crying, and the scenes from the film where this song was taken would appear vividly before our mind’s eye and remind us of sweet family life. Some practitioners couldn’t stop crying.
Several months later they [again] observed and studied me. They watched me go through sleepless nights and days without food, various types of physical torture and mental torment. They saw me grow emaciated before their eyes. I seldom spoke. They thought I had reached my limit in physical and psychological tolerance. People are usually at their weakest during these times. They thought they could perhaps make a breakthrough with me somewhere, so they never missed any opportunity to launch a psychological battle against me.
Guard Wang Yu repeatedly coerced me to sing the song “Mom is the Best in the World.” She said, “You have a son and a daughter, and you must really miss them. I heard that you were brought to the labor camp soon after your children went to college, and when they were on a school break they couldn’t find their mother. Don’t you feel terrible? Don’t you miss your children a lot?”
I didn’t say a word. She again urged me to sing the song. I thought that I must let her know that it doesn’t work on me.
5. Eighteen Sleepless Nights
One day several people suddenly came into my room during the daytime. They shut the door and windows and closed the curtains. They even covered the small glass window the patrol guard uses to look into my room. I knew from the intense atmosphere that another round of persecution had begun.
They changed the group of people assigned to watch and persecute me. Chen, Hao and Wang continued to stay in the group, and drug addict Han Xuwei, as well as Zhen Jie, Tang Jianshu, Liu Hong and several others were brought into my room to join the group. Another round of persecution started after the group of people was changed. They watched me around the clock and made sure I did not fall asleep or take a nap. They took turns brainwashing me, and they also made me watch videos that slandered Master and Dafa. They worked in shifts, each shift consisting of two people. One shift was before midnight and the other shift was after midnight.
Evil Mental Coercion
After brainwashing and various types of tortures failed, they loudly claimed that I was “psychologically controlled” and I was “possessed by animals.” In order to confuse me and create self-doubt, they kept saying it over and over, and the guards said it repeatedly at all meetings. On the other hand, they watched my every move, facial expression and mood. They seized on the slightest subconscious move I made to prove their point, that I was manipulated and possessed. They would reinforce this claim, trying to instill it in my mind, in order to bewilder me and try to start my self-doubt. They wanted to make me lose myself and accept brainwashing and reform. After this experience I understood why and how some people had a mental collapses.
When the collaborators brainwashed me, they sat in a circle on small stools, with me in the center. They talked to me for an entire morning, afternoon, evening and sometimes throughout the night. They forced me to look at the person who was talking, with my upper body in an upright position, my knees together and my hands on my knees. When I nodded off from exhaustion and drowsiness, they shouted, “Look, look, the animals are possessing her again! Beat the animals out of her!” They then started kicking my legs and feet.
In order to reject their endless, wicked theories and slanderous attacks, to have a break for my nerves that had stayed on high alert at all times, and to preserve the remaining bit of my energy and strength, I gradually learned to shut my mind and not listen to them, and I could go somewhere else in my mind. Sometimes I stared at the grass and ants around my feet, the treetops in the distance, or a certain object in the room, and I tried my best not to let the evildoers move me. It was really hard for me not to hate them. Every time hatred arose I tried to eliminate it because Master said that cultivators must not hate.
Guard Jiao said in a menacing voice, “They [collaborators] were all like you when they didn’t reform. You’ll be fixed once we knock out your possessing animals and those who psychologically control you.”
I said, “I am clear-minded! You are the ones who are completely mentally controlled! You are manipulated by devils and by animals! No one forced me to practice Dafa. I practice on my own accord out of pursuit for the truth, because Dafa awakened my soul. Why should I agree with your filthy theories?”
A vengeful look fled across Jiao’s eyes, but she smiled as she walked away.
They tortured me day and night. They made me stay up night after night and brainwashed me day after day. When I moved slightly, if I didn’t put my hands and feet where they required, or if my attention was not on what they talked, they would jump up and say, “Look, look, her possessing animals are here again. She is different from others. Her shell is especially thick. It’s typical mental manipulation!” They said things like this and tried to shove them into my mind.
A little later I couldn’t help but doze off. They kicked me and screamed, “Look! Her animals came back! Beat her animals! Beat her! Make her come to her senses!”
I couldn’t take it anymore and I said, “Don’t do something so ridiculous. You can’t achieve anything by doing this to me. I won’t fall into your trap.”
I knew very well that they wanted to drive those fabricated accusations into my mind in order to confuse me and repel my righteous thoughts, so I would lose mental control and lose myself. I warned myself all the time that I must maintain a strong main consciousness. My mind must be righteous and I must act with righteous thoughts and righteous actions. I must not let them move me, otherwise those evil things would really enter my mind, which was exactly their goal.
I don’t remember exactly what day it was, but it was around the tenth day… Each night two people watched me and ordered me to sit on a small stool in the middle of the walkway between two beds, so I could not lean on either bed, and they wouldn’t let me close my eyes. When I shut my eyes they shouted, “Zhang, open your eyes! Open your eyes! If you want to sleep, you must reform! If you don’t reform, don’t think about sleeping!”
I wasn’t affected in the least. They continued this mental coercion for a while and they felt it didn’t have any effect, so they gave it up and resorted to violence.
Violence During a Dark Night
After a whole day of brainwashing and an entire night of repeatedly watching Dafa-slandering videos, my tightly shut brain finally relaxed amid snoozing sounds in the room. At this time my mind and my heart were free. I let my mind wander and thought about everything. I thought more about the happy times before July 20, 1999, when I bathed in the glory of Dafa, the date when I had changed into a completely different person, from the inside out. It was more than four years, but it felt so short. I never expected the severe situation after July 20, 1999, and wondered when this tribulation would end. Where are all my fellow practitioners who were like my brothers and sisters? Did they also lose their freedom? Are they also determined? When I thought about them, my heart was light but also heavy. My shirt was soaked in tears when I thought about Master.
Late into the night Hao Lihua and Hao got up and asked me the same questions they’ve asked countless times, “Zhang Yijie, will you reform or not? So, you’ll make us suffer with you? Where is your compassion? How dare you say that you practice Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance?” Hao cursed me. Hao and Chen were both in their thirties. Hao, Chen and Wang Yan were always together, like shadows. Wang Yan is another collaborator. She wrote filthy articles in Master’s name and passed them to the Men’s Labor Camp. She is really wicked. The three of them had the guards’ greatest trust. I had a feeling that they would take actions against me at any time. They would do worse things to me because all of their previous tactics had failed.
Later that night they received orders from the guards and started hitting me. Hao and another person yanked me from the stool onto the floor. They wrapped my entire body in a quilt and knelt on me. One of them held my head in place and put their knees in my face so I could not breathe. Another person kicked and stomped on all parts of my body. I struggled and put my face next to the floor so I could breathe. I used my free hand to protect my head.
They screamed as they beat me, “Beat her possessing animals! Beat out her mental control! Peel off her shell! You are tough, you won’t reform, you are the only one practicing cultivation and no one else is [practicing cultivation]!” They kicked and beat me like madwomen. My head and shoulders were held down tightly, so I could not move or get away. My face was held against the floor so I could not make any sound. They kicked my back, chest and abdomen. They also kicked the rest of my body as if I were a sandbag. One person lifted one of my legs and vehemently kicked my private area. I struggled and freed my leg in order to protect myself.
When they released me, two people started kicking and beating me together. I didn’t even have the strength to move or get up. I never made any sound. Those two people heaved, and the sound of kicking lasted for a long time. It was a night that seemed to never end.
Usually, the guard on duty would open the door many times throughout the night to see if I was sleeping, and if the collaborators were slacking off. This night, however, the guard never came.
They stopped before dawn, probably from exhaustion. From then on I noticed the guard disappeared completely whenever I was beaten. It was a sure bet that he would not show up at any time during the beating.
I didn’t moan after a long beating. I remember the two of them pulled me up and tried to put me back on the stool as they cursed me. I could not sit up. I can’t recall how long I had lain on the icy concrete floor, how I got up or what happened afterwards. I felt as if I had lost my memory. Miraculously, when I became fully conscious, all of the physical pain was totally gone.
I still treated them with compassion after the beating, as I had always done. One of them regretted her actions and wrote a letter to me. I said to her, “I don’t hate anyone. Cultivators do not bear hatred, but I cannot understand how you can listen and help the evil do these kinds of things. You once practiced Dafa! Even if you had not, you shouldn’t beat a woman in such a rampant manner and put her in such a terrible situation. Not even an ordinary person would have done it. Where is your conscience as a human being? What you have done is beyond reason. You must know that coercion and crimes cannot change people’s minds. I hope you think it over!”
It was in 2001, a few days before October 1, the date that marks the Communist Party usurping power and the Mid-Autumn Festival. The 2001 National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival fell on the same day. Another group of practitioners were brought over from the Beijing Labor Reeducation Dispatch Division. I felt the persecutors were becoming more and more evil in brainwashing. It was indeed the year when the evil was running most rampant.
One day the guards ordered several people to beat me. In the past they dared not hit my face but this time they punched my face with brutal force. Soon, my face was severely bruised. My face was numb and I felt blood running down, but when I tried to wipe away the blood with my hands there was nothing. I realized the sensation was caused by blood vessels bursting under my skin. I felt my head and face swell. When I touched my face, I could tell that my face was so swollen that it was even level with my nose, and my upper lip flipped outward. I had black and blue eyes from the beating, and I could not open them for my swollen face had sealed my eyes. I knew I was disfigured from the beating.
A while later the guards told us that everyone at the labor camp would join a party in the courtyard after dinner and told me that I must go. I thought, “Why would they still ask me to go out, with me being tortured like this? In the past they always carefully isolated me from others. It is unusual, what is this all about?”
Suddenly some people entered the room, they secretly and nervously said, “Being beaten too severely, her eyes are even sealed.” “What should we do?…” Then I heard someone leave the room.
I couldn’t open my eyes and I couldn’t see who those people were. Quite a while later the person who had left came back, whispering to the other people in the room, “They gave me a bottle of ‘Heal Quick,’ hurry up and spray her with it.” They discussed it and said this medication is used for external injuries and is very good at quickly reducing swelling.
They sprayed medication “Heal Quick” all over my face. Tears streamed from my eyes because the spray burned like having been stung by a wasp. After the beating and application of the spray, my vision became blurry, and I saw dark spots in front of my eyes. They sprayed me over and over. I was then not aware of their intention and I just wanted the swelling to go down, because the other practitioners would become afraid when they saw my face. That is why I didn’t stop them from repeatedly spraying me with “Heal Quick.”
I couldn’t see my face. Several days later I looked in a mirror and I saw a deformed face, covered with congealed blood. My face was black and blue, and eye sockets and eyelids became dark purple with extravasated blood. My mouth and nose were swollen, and I could not bear to look at myself.
In the evening I was taken into the courtyard and sat in a designated seat. The other practitioners hadn’t seen me for the past few months. They knew that I was held alone. None of them expected to see me with a horribly disfigured face. They looked at me with shock and fear in their eyes.
I calmly glanced over the group, which sat in a square of approximately 40 m. in diameter. I saw many new faces, and I knew they had just been brought here. Suddenly I realized why the guards had brought me out here. They rarely allowed other practitioners to see me and never let me participate in any activity. This time they wanted to brandish their “victory” by displaying me on stage. They wanted to shock the new practitioners, shock the practitioners who they thought have not completely “reformed,” and shock practitioners who they thought had not actually “reformed.” I was stunned at this realization. They are so malevolent! So malevolent! My physical wounds hurt, but my heart and mind hurt even more!
Division head Jiao Xuexian looked at them and looked at me. She finally tore off her hypocritical mask and revealed the “fruit” of several months of fanatic persecution and reform efforts. She knew what was done in the dark will come to light, and her true self finally emerged. She smugly and arrogantly said to the other practitioners, “Zhang Yijie had a cosmetic procedure! Zhang Yijie had a cosmetic procedure!” What she meant was, “Do any of you want to end up like this?”
Everyone fixed their eyes on me the whole time. I saw all kinds of looks. I understood Jiao’s meaning and straightened my back. I had a determined but calm look on my face. I didn’t display the slightest discomfort. I wanted to send this message through my body language, “I simply refuse to reform! I will practice Dafa with determination. I will always have a backbone even if they beat me to death! All of this farce doesn’t affect me at all, and coercion cannot alter my belief. Violence cannot subdue me!” My existence was an encouragement for other practitioners, and I was boosting their confidence. The evildoers said “important” Dafa practitioners could talk with their eyes. Exactly! I greeted them and exchanged meanings with them through my eyes and my smile. The evil could never block the communication between hearts and minds.
I was upset when the other practitioners started dancing. I thought, “I didn’t know you guys were in this mood.” But then I thought, “No, who doesn’t miss their families during the Mid-Autumn Festival? Who would truly enjoy the environment here at the labor camp? Who reformed from the bottom of their hearts? My mental state and my mood would affect them, while other practitioners were also worried and cared about me.
During the dance some practitioners purposely approached me and greeted me with their eyes. Some practitioners secretly gave me a thumbs-up. I returned their greeting with my eyes and smiled at them. One bold practitioner grabbed me and danced with me. I seized the opportunity to slip in a few words during a twirl and said, “Cultivate with determination, jump off the wagon [of reform], beware of x [a person’s name] and help x [another person’s name]. Try to help all reformed practitioners to return to Dafa!”
It was more than the evildoers could take. Deputy division head Huai circled the yard and stared at me. The drug addicts saw her face, and they jumped up and followed me. I smiled and kept talking to other practitioners as I turned my body. I didn’t let my face reveal any secret. I passed my positive mood and determined will onto other practitioners. I smiled kindly and calmly, and I was telling the evildoers that coercion and violence couldn’t change people’s minds. Their “display” effort was in vain.
The evildoers couldn’t stand it anymore. They hinted to the drug addicts to drag me away. They realized they had been defeated once again. The result was exactly the opposite from what they had hoped to achieve. They also canceled their plan to make me read a slanderous poem on stage.
“She is tough and can endure, but we can’t take it anymore!”
I went through one long day after another, one dreadful night after another. I couldn’t remember exactly what day it was. The curtains were drawn over the windows day and night, and the door was tightly shut. I could tell it was morning, noon and evening only from three small buns–breakfast, lunch and dinner that were brought to me.
One night I quietly talked to collaborator Zhen Jie, hoping she would realize from Fa principles that “reform” is wrong. She had worked at the Shandong Knitting Factory Master had mentioned in Zhuan Falun. I felt deeply sorry for her because she once had such a great, predestined relationship with Master and Dafa. Another collaborator, Tang, was older than me. We argued with each other when she tried to reform me, and I firmly opposed reform. Both of them still had Master and Dafa in their hearts, however. When they worked the night shift I was able to close my eyes for a little while sitting on the stool, to get some much-needed rest. When the patrolling guard came, they nudged me awake.
There are several types of people who “reformed.” One type knew “reform” was wrong, according to Fa principles, but they pretended to “reform” because they wanted to leave the labor camp or they could no longer endure the physical torture and mental torment. Another type was confused and thought “reform” was right. The third type completely went to the opposite side and actively assisted the evildoers, committing lots of crimes.
Late at night I sat on the small stool and fell sound asleep as I listened to the snoring in the room. Collaborator Hao lay on her bed and looked at me. She made guttural noises in her throat to wake me up. After I was forced to stay awake for many days, my mind often went blank day and night, and I felt as if I had been sucked dry. I cannot describe the feeling. It was beyond the desire to sleep. What’s the physical limit for a human being to go without sleep? What’s the limit for sleeplessness when someone is being physically tortured and mentally tormented at the same time? Someone said, “x [another practitioner] had a mental collapse from sleep deprivation.” They wanted to destroy me with the same sleep deprivation.
I kept falling from my stool. Every time I fell I picked myself up and sat back on the stool. When I fell again, I got up again. Hao was afraid that I would lean against the length of the bed, so she forced me to sit on the floor in the middle of the room without any objects to lean on. The sound of me falling on the floor woke up collaborators and drug addicts, and they were angry. I tried my best to hold back the feeling of exhaustion and sleepiness in order to not affect them.
At dawn, drug addict Han Xuwei, head of the “taking the fort” class went out and reported to the guards. When she came back she picked on me again. She cursed me for being “stubborn” and refusing to “reform,” and blamed me for disrupting their life rhythm. Han Xuwei and the other collaborators desperately wanted to leave the labor camp. They would do anything for the guards.
One day a collaborator named Zhang Yanchun arrived. Zhang Yanchun had replaced Liu Hong, who was kind to me, and guard Jiao therefore “fired” her. Zhang Yanchun saw me, walked around me once and stood still and she said bitterly, “So you are Zhang Yijie? You exposed the brainwashing class online and prevented lots of people from reforming. Do you realize the consequences? So you are sleepy? I’ll make you sleepy! I’ll whip you blind today!” She started to whip my eyes with a flyswatter. She didn’t use the flat side of the flyswatter but turned it and used the narrow edge of the flyswatter only to whip my eyes. She whipped my eyes with brutal force and shocking precision. I felt the intensity of her evil intention and carefully shunned away.
She once practiced Dafa, but now she is a well-known wicked collaborator, one of the three at the labor camp. She carried out brainwashing and reform at the Legal Training Center for a long time. She viciously twisted Dafa principles, slandered Dafa and spared no effort in “reforming” Dafa practitioners. I looked at her face. It was black and covered in bumps. Her face was filled with an evil and murderous look; it so accurately reflected her mind. She whipped away while attacking Master and Dafa non-stop with lies.
She said, “If you don’t reform in the study class, we have to keep you in the labor camp. If you don’t reform, we’ll make you. We’ll lock you up. So can you endure? Fine, then endure!” I kept closing my eyes to protect my eyeballs from the rainfall of the flyswatter. Tears flowed from the whipping. She didn’t stop until she had had enough and was tired herself. My highly wrought nerves finally relaxed.
Over time the flyswatter had left a deep imprint on my brain. In the next two summers I would tremble despite myself whenever I saw a flyswatter at the labor camp. The feeling of my eyes and face being whipped would flash across my mind, and the whipping scene vividly replayed itself. Each time I would secretly throw the flyswatter out the window.
The guards thought I wouldn’t be able to last a few days with beating and sleep deprivation. Sleepless nights, however, proved too much for the guards and collaborators. The round-the-clock “battle” stopped on the 19th day. They had gone through their arsenal of torture methods and were so sleep-deprived they could no longer do it. The drug addicts said, “It’s a waste of time to say anything to Zhang Yijie. We can watch and follow her all the time, and we can brutally beat her, but it won’t work on her. She is tough and can endure, but we can’t take it anymore! Tell the ‘government’ that we quit!”
Collaborator Tang Jianshu is the woman who I previously mentioned was older than me. She experienced the 18 nights of around the clock brainwashing, and witnessed some of the atrocities. It is said that after I was wrapped in a quilt and beaten at midnight she went to head guard Jiao and said she wanted to withdraw from the “taking the fort” group. She said such beatings would kill me, and she didn’t want to be held liable. I don’t know what prompted Jiao, or if it was perhaps the “workers” all giving up, but I was moved to another room where the environment was just as bad. I stayed in the same room with collaborators Hao, Chen, Wang and two drug addicts who were also prostitutes. They were responsible for watching and brainwashing me daily, but now I could sleep for a few hours at night.