(Minghui.org) Lanzhou Prison has been used as the main prison in Gansu Province to gaol male Falun Gong practitioners since the persecution of Falun Gong, an ancient Chinese mind and body practice, began in July 1999. Practitioners there are brutally tortured for upholding their faith while living under harsh conditions and being forced to do heavy labor work.
The prison authorities have resorted to all means possible to inflict harm on practitioners who refused to renounce their faith, including forcing them to stand for long periods of time, working double shifts of night duties, giving them smaller meal portions, not allowing them to shop at the prison store, and depriving them of family visits or phone calls.
Practitioners Tortured to Death
In Lanzhou Prison, many inmates have witnessed the ruthless persecution of Falun Gong practitioners.
Some inmates recalled how Mr. Wang Youjiang, an army major in the Lanzhou Military Region, had his teeth knocked out by other inmates. Mr. Wang served two prison terms in Lanzhou Prison, for ten and six years, and was subjected to brutal torture during both terms. He was persecuted to death in 2017 during his second prison term. Details for his ordeal are available at “Army Major Dies of Abuse While Serving Second Prison Term for His Faith.”
Mr. Jia Chunzhen, from Linxia County, was imprisoned in Lanzhou Prison to serve a four-year term. Since he refused to renounce his faith, he was publicly humiliated and criticised several times in large meetings. He was persecuted to death in the prison in March 2022, at age 76. His family saw injury marks on his neck and arms.
Other Persecution Cases
Mr. Zhang Tianyun, in his 60s, from Jiuquan City, Gansu Province, was released in late July 2022. During his imprisonment, inmate Li Hai and other inmates often beat him, which caused him to suffer a stroke. He had a lopsided head and walked with a limp. Even when he was unable to take care of himself due to mobility impairment, the guards still forced him to do unpaid labor.
Mr. Song Guoli, 66, from Jingyuan County, Gansu Province, was released from Lanzhou Prison in July 2022 after serving four years and two months. During his imprisonment, he was monitored and tortured by inmate Liu Xiaoping, who also deprived him of food, drink, and sleep.
Mr. Han Xu, a Lanzhou City resident, served a three-year term in Lanzhou Prison. He insisted that he did not commit any crime and refused to do labor work or answer roll calls. The guards retaliated by forcing him to stand for more than ten hours a day for more than 30 days. He was given only steamed buns for every meal for more than half a month, without rice or vegetables.
Mr. Hong Liang, in his 50s, from Zhangjiachuan County, Gansu Province, is being held in Lauzhou Prison for his prison term of four and a half years, after his arrest in August 2020. He was often taken to a room at the workshop during working hours to study materials defaming Falun Gong and then locked in a small cell to continue his study after working a few hours, until sleeping time.
In addition to Mr. Hong, the following practitioners are also still currently imprisoned in Lanzhou Prison:
Mr. Wei Junren, in his 40s, from Jingchuan County, Gansu Province, was arrested on August 13, 2002 and sentenced to 20 years on October 27, 2002 by the Chengguan Court.
Mr. Jin Jilin, in his 50s, from Yuzhong County, Gansu Province, was arrested in 2015 and sentenced to seven years by the Yuzhong County Court in June 2016.
Mr. Li Fubin, 71, a Lanzhou City resident, was arrested in September 2016 and sentenced to six years.
Mr. Li Jiankui, 72, from Linxia County, Gansu Province, was arrested on November 25, 2020. His prison term is unknown.
Mr. Song Zongxiao, 71, from Linxia City, Gansu Province, was arrested in April 2020 and sentenced to three and a half years in late December 2020.
Mr. Zhao Yujie, about 45, from Linxia City, was arrested in February 2020 and sentenced to nine and a half years in November 2020.
Mr. Chen Yongsen, about 65, is disabled with blurred vision. He was arrested in February 2020 and sentenced to nine years in November 2020.
Mr. Liu Shiyi, 58, from Qingcheng County, Gansu Province, was arrested on March 25, 2020 and sentenced to three years by the Qingcheng County Court in January 2021.
Poor Condition and Forced Labor
The prison is divided into two areas, the work area and the living area. The condition in the living area is poor with over 3,000 inmates in five buildings. Each floor accommodates about 150 people, equipped with only six faucets and six squatting-pit toilets. It has long queues every morning.
The inmates wake up at 6:00 a.m. and have only 45 minutes to wash up, have breakfast, and clean the room. Before leaving for work, they have to sing songs to praise the Communist Party. Before walking through the gates to enter the working area, they have to shout “Communist Party is good, socialism is good” to be allowed to go through.
The inmates are forced to work from 7:00 a.m to 6:30 p.m. with a one-hour lunch break, for a total of 10.5 hours daily. It is common for them to work overtime, usually until 9:00 p.m. The prison regulation stipulates the inmates can work up to five days a week. However, Lanzhou Prison has forced the inmates to work six days a week and often shortened or canceled national holidays.
Lanzhou Prison requires all inmates to participate in labor, including those with severe physical disabilities and those who are elderly and sick. The types of work include heavy labor or making clothes, such as shorts exported to Japan, cargo pants for New Yorker Fashion Logistics GmbH & KG to be exported to Kiel, Germany, and vests for U.K.’s Royal Mail.
The inmates’ pay is very low. Even a skilled worker working overtime would only be paid about 50 yuan (7.40 USD) each month.
The heavy workloads have caused many inmates to suffer lumbar spine, cervical spine, or hemorrhoids, but they are given very limited medical care. Some prison doctors are veterinarians who did not listen to the inmates’ own description of their symptoms and prescribed incorrect medication. Inmates had to continue working when they were in bad shape in order to reduce their prison terms.
The workshop environments are full of chemical contamination and inmates are not given any protection, not even masks. In one ward, inmates were allowed to drink a glass of water and use the toilet once in the morning at 9:30 a.m., and once in the afternoon at 3:30 p.m. Inmates had to sit still in their seats even when they had no workload.
The inmates must declare themselves as “criminal so and so” loudly when they report to the guards, before squatting down to talk. Any written requests or application also need to explicitly write “criminal” before their names. Some inmates have tried to report the abuses, but the guards wouldn’t give them any channels to do so.
The prison also incarcerates more than a hundred foreign prisoners, mostly from Pakistan and Afghanistan. They were transferred from prisons in Xinjiang Province, as the authorities attempted to cover up the abuses of the Uyghurs there.
These foreign prisoners’ families are not allowed to remit money to them. Their living conditions are even more miserable than the native Chinese inmates, since they only had their very minimal wage which is barely enough to buy anything. Many of them suffer from various serious illnesses without medical treatment and some are so weak that they can’t walk on their own or walk very slowly.
The inmates wearing yellow vests are the assistants of the guards. They are authorised to participate in ward management. Some heads have abused their power and bully other inmates. For example, Li Xiaopeng, the head assistant of Ward 14, was responsible for training new inmates. He punished the new inmates at will, forcing them to stand for the whole day, doing double shifts at night, and not allowing them to sit down except for sleeping time. When the inspection team came, they took off their yellow vests and blended in with the rest of the inmates.
Chinese version available