(Minghui.org) (Continued from Part 2.)
Another Round of Coercive Transformation
In January 2009, I was taken back to solitary confinement for two weeks. Even though the temperature was below freezing, the guards turned off the heat and only gave me a very thin blanket. I could barely fall asleep on the bare concrete slab.
On August 30, 2010, Lanzhou Prison started another round of transformation of me. Later I heard that when a deputy director of the Labor Reform Bureau of the Gansu Provincial Department of Justice came to Lanzhou for inspection, he called a meeting and mentioned me, “Sun Zhaohai has 11 years left in prison. You can’t just let him spend the time here comfortably.”
This time, they gave me only two steamed buns a day and also deprived me of sleep. It went on for about two months. The temperature in Lanzhou at night was very low, and I was always cold and hungry, shivering from the cold. When I couldn’t keep awake anymore, I closed my eyes for a few minutes occasionally.
One night, when I was in a daze, I glanced at the two inmates assigned to monitor me. One looked very drowsy and the other listless. I blamed myself: “What am I doing? I was causing these people to suffer with me. What if I just go along with them?” Moved by my human emotions, I agreed to copy a statement to renounce Falun Gong. Later, I checked myself carefully, and realized that I was still weak in my will power and did not have strong righteous thoughts.
On June 20, 2011, two people from the Judicial Department of Gansu Province, accompanied by the prison head and a few others, came to inspect the progress of transformation of Falun Gong practitioners. They tried to force me to swear at Falun Gong and its teacher. I refused to do so. The atmosphere was very tense.
Seeing that their transformation of me had no results, the prison head changed the subject by rebuking me and quickly wrapped up the inspection.
After the New Year in 2012, prior to the third round of transformation, I wrote a statement to reaffirm my determination to practice Falun Gong. On May 20 that year, I wrote a solemn declaration to void my renouncing statement and handed it to Instructor Miao.
Later, I learned that Miao, who had just been transferred there, held a meeting with his staff members, telling them they didn’t need to do anything to brainwash me. Most of the inmates assigned to watch over me were those who understood the facts, so life was relatively easy for a period of time, until our division was merged with Division 1 in June 2014.
Tortured on “Tiger Bench”, “Dead Person’s Bed”, and Brutal Force-feeding
Towards the end of 2016, the prison head Chu Zhiyong appointed heavy-handed Wang Guochen as our division head, trying to catch up with the financial revenue of the division.
Wang appeared to be reasonable towards me at the beginning, but started to be very vicious about half a year later after he had consolidated his authority.
He cooked up an excuse and locked me in a small dark room, where I was cuffed to a “Tiger Bench” for 12 hours, and the rest of the time on the “death bed.”
I went on a hunger strike, and they started to force-feed me five days later. They inserted a tube through my nostril, then pulled it out and thrust it back in again. There was nothing in my stomach, and the process was extremely painful. I felt I was suffocating, and my stomach was churning. They tortured me this way in order to force me to give up the hunger strike.
Three days later, they tried to force-feed me again, but my nose started bleeding, and they told me to drink my blood. On the way back to my division, I fainted twice. When I regained consciousness, they tied me to the “death bed” for more than ten days. The sub-team leader came to talk to me, ordering me to cooperate with them.
Not only me, but the inmates were also held in the dark room, which turned out to be devastating for them. A young inmate surnamed Du was locked in the dark room before me, and he was kept there for another two or three months after I was let out. By the time he was let out, he was suffering severe depression and a mental breakdown.
Falun Gong practitioner Mr. Lu Yongzhen, in his 60s from Baiyin City, was also locked in the small dark room for about a month before me.
On September 20, 2017, about 160 foreigners from Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan were transferred to the Lanzhou Prison from Xinjiang, because too many Uyghurs were detained there and the local detention and prison facilities could not cope anymore.
They said that since July 5, 2014, the CCP had carried out horrific suppression in Xinjiang, and a large number of Uyghurs were arrested and detained. They were treated inhumanely, and there were people beaten to death every day. Having witnessed the evilness of the CCP, most of them believe that Falun Gong is a righteous practice.
In 2019, Wang Guochen was transferred to the newly established Division 9, where he continued with his brutality. He handcuffed an inmate, sprayed him with hot pepper liquid and shocked him with an electric baton, causing him to become disfigured. While Wang was an instructor in Division 5, he instigated inmates to cruelly torture Falun Gong practitioner Mr. Wang Youjiang. Mr. Wang became paralysed as a result and passed away later on.
Ribs Broken from Beating by the Guards
After Wang was transferred to the new division, someone surnamed Ma became head of our division. At the end of December 2019, instructor Zhang locked up the men’s room in the workshop to stop people from using the toilet.
“Yes, I’m a hooligan, so what!” he shouted in the workshop, where more than 300 people were forced to do unpaid labor.
“Using the toilet is one of the most basic needs for human beings,” I argued with him. “You are going a bit too far by not allowing us to use the toilet.” I argued a bit more before I was persuaded to return to my seat. I went to the men’s room again ten minutes later. Ma was still there, but the door was unlocked.
The next day, Ma led five or six guards to conduct security checks on everyone in the workshop. I said I wanted to talk to him.
“You can talk to me, but you have to squat down first,” he said.
I didn’t take any notice of what he said, and he pushed me into his office, and thrust me hard onto a table. I felt as if my back was broken with sharp pain. When he let go of me, I slumped to the ground. I grabbed the chair next to me and tried to get up, but I couldn’t, as my back became very weak.
When I regained my strength, I yelled at him, “You are such a hooligan and scum.” He and six guards started to punch and kick me. Afterwards, he told two inmates to take me back to the workshop and handcuffed me from behind to a pillar. I was left there till 6 p.m. The beating fractured two of my ribs. I couldn’t breathe properly, and felt severe pain with each breath. My legs also turned purple-black.
The guards removed my handcuffs and told other inmates to help me back to the cell. I endured enormous pain while working in the workshop every day. It took almost a month before the pain gradually disappeared. During this period, I couldn’t bear to take deep breaths and any slight cough would cause me a sharp pain that made me feel suffocated.
Because I couldn’t squat down during roll call, a new team leader surnamed Jia handcuffed me. Later, he ordered other inmates to cuff me in the workshop during the day, and then to my bedside after work. This went on until it was almost Chinese New Year. At night time, I had to figure out a way to unlock the handcuffs myself.
I started having teeth problems in 2017, and had only three teeth left due to gum recession by the time I was released.
During the outbreak of COVID cases, the guards took turns staying away from the prison. A week before I was released, the guard in charge of my squadron came to me, saying that the head of the prison had informed them that leaders of the Gansu Political and Legal Affairs Committee wanted to talk to me before my release.
They said that there would not be any more issues if I acknowledged my “transformation,” otherwise I might not be released or allowed to go back to my hometown in Heilongjiang.
I told them that I would not acknowledge my forced “transformation.” They didn’t say anything after that.
I didn’t see anyone from the Gansu Political and Legal Affairs Committee on the day I was released. I was picked up by three people from my hometown Jiamusi – one from the internal security police, one from the Bureau of Justice, and the other one from the local Political and Legal Affairs Committee.
As we couldn’t get flight tickets that day, they checked me into a local hotel in Lanzhou. The three people who picked me up asked me if I had any plans for the future.
“The prison guards must have told you about me,” I replied.
“So, you still practice (Falun Gong),” one of them said.
“Yes, I do.” I said. They didn’t say anything else and went to rest in their own rooms.
The next day, I had a walk with the official from the Political and Legal Affairs Committee. He asked me about my experience in practicing Falun Gong and why I was sentenced to so many years in prison. After I told him what happened to me, he said that the CCP has never loosened its suppression of Falun Gong and asked me not to get involved in TV interception anymore. I didn’t respond to his comment, but told him the benefits I have enjoyed from practicing Falun Gong.
I took a flight in the evening and took a train from Harbin to Jiamusi. They notified my younger siblings to pick me up at the exit, and told me to apply for household registration and an ID card as soon as possible.
I suffered 21 years of unjust incarceration during the last 23 years of persecution of Falun Gong. I was subjected to beatings, insults and all kinds of abuse aimed to force me to give up my faith. Was it painful? Yes, but what I have suffered was nothing when I thought of our Master’s painstaking spread of the universal principles and his immense compassion and salvation of mankind.
The 19 years in Lanzhou Prison was a miserable and devastating experience. I had no freedom and my values were totally different from those around me. No words could express the loneliness I experienced and no one could share my loneliness.
When I couldn’t do the exercises or study the Fa, I would recite the few Master’s articles and poems I could remember. I firmly believed in my heart: What I have done is correct and upright, and this is my righteous belief in Falun Gong.
I remember a few words from the novel Journey to the West: “It is hard to be born in the eastern land, it is difficult to find the righteous Dharma, and it is difficult to obtain a human body. How fortunate if one achieves all these three!”
When Falun Gong practitioners were forced to leave their families and careers behind and risked their lives clarifying the truth, they were in fact trying to save people from the grip of the evil. I used to say to the guards in prison: Treating Falun Gong practitioners kindly is treating yourselves with kindness!