My life inside a Chinese labour camp

People are taking part in Amnesty International’s Write for Rights action this
week by writing letters and signing petitions to show solidarity with individuals
who suffer human right abuses.

Former prisoner of conscience Bu Dongwei spent over two years in a Chinese
Re-education through Labour (RTL) camp until his release in July 2008, following
campaigning by Amnesty International and its supporters…

By Bu Dongwei

“I was working in Beijing for a US NGO on a project funded by US government
funds when I was detained and sent to a ‘Re-education Through Labor (RTL)’
camp due to my belief in Falun Gong.

On May 19, 2006, six to seven police broke into my home and searched for the
book ‘Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party’. They didn’t find the book they
wanted but found several Falun Gong books. They put me in the detention centre
in Haidian District, Beijing.

I was locked in a small cell (about 220 square feet) with 30-35, sometimes
over 40 people. I stayed in the detention centre for over three months before
I was transferred to the labor camp.

It was to be my second time in this labor camp. In 2000, I was sent to the
labor camp for one year the same reason.

Persecution in the labor camp includes; torture, forced labor work, deprivation
of basic needs, brain-washing, no freedom to go to the restroom, no freedom
to wash clothes, bad food and bad living conditions.

In the Beijing Tuanhe Labor Camp, all Falun Gong practitioners are forced to
repeatedly listen to guards insult the Falun Gong, watch videos that slander
Falun Gong, forced to denounce Falun Gong and, every day, forced to sing songs
that praise the Communist Party.

Force-feeding is a torture method that labor camps often use on Falun Gong
practitioners, particularly on those who have staged hunger strikes to protest
their unlawful persecution.

One practitioner, Mr. Yu Ming, whom I first met in Tuanhe labor camp in 2001,
was in the labor camp for the third time. But this time I never saw him because
he staged a hunger strike and was put into a special, small room with a video

One day a guard took me into their office. He forgot to turn off the monitor
before I went in. On the monitor, I saw Yu Ming bound on a small bed in the
center of the room with four non-Falun Gong detainees sitting around him.

Every day, the doctor would come to force-feed Yu Ming. He had been bound on
the bed for over six months before he was transferred to another labor camp
in April 2007. .

The guards arranged some non-Falun Gong detainees to live with us and monitor
Falun Gong practitioners. The guards promised to reduce the non-Falun Gong detainees’
terms if they ‘worked well’. Falun Gong practitioners are not allowed
to talk to each other.

Forced labor work
During my first time in the camp, we were forced to pack disposable chopsticks
in very unsanitary conditions. Every day we were forced to pack 6,000-7,000
pairs of chopsticks. All the chopsticks were put on the ground of the small
room and people often stepped on them. Some of those chopsticks are for export.

In July, 2009, while I was having lunch in a cafeteria in Capitol Hill, Washington
DC, I saw that the disposable chopsticks in the cafeteria were made in China.
I’m not sure if these chopsticks were made in labor camps… but we
made the same chopsticks.

In my second time in the camp, we were forced to pack carton boxes and were
exposed to poisonous glues with little protection.

With the help of the US government, the European Parliament, the British and
German government, Amnesty International and others, my daughter and I eventually
came to the US to join my wife following my release in July 2008.

I sincerely thank all the people who have helped my family and me in the past
two years.

Today, millions of Falun Gong practitioners are still being persecuted in mainland
China. Many have lost their jobs, their homes and their freedom. Some have even
lost their lives just because of the strength of their beliefs.

Even when I was in the labor camp, I could feel from the attitude of the guards
that they got pressure from the outside world. One guard even mentioned to me
once that international human rights organizations cared about me.

Only after I arrived in the US did I learn that Amnesty members around the
world had written me hundreds, if not thousands, of letters. All the letters
were impounded by the authorities. But I believe that the pressure from international
society, of course including the letters from Amnesty members, helped me a lot.

From my experience, attention and pressure from international society can help
to improve the conditions of jailed people. The Letter Writing Marathon is a
great idea. Chinese people are now beginning to launch similar programs for
those in China’s jails. Please help to stop the persecution of various
kinds of people. The injustice must be – and will be – stopped by the joined
efforts of all upright and kind people.”

Posting date: 9/Dec/2009
Original article date: 7/Dec/2008
Category: World News


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