The Chinese “Final Solution”
In China’s Masanja Labor Camp female prisoners are “tortured unto madness or death.”
In imperial China, when one dynasty was in decline, different rebellious peasants and heterodox religions working hand-in-hand threw society into turmoil. This happened especially during the last three dynasties, Yuan, Ming and Qing. One of these heterodox religions was the White Lotus Sect. Founded at the end of Mongol era in the 13th century, White Lotus attracted proletariats from urban and rural populations like a magnet when the political and social situation was in disorder. The emergence of the quasi-Buddhist religion alarmed the rulers, because they knew for whom the bell tolled.
- During the Cultural Revolution, people were sentenced to death or outright murdered because of one wrong sentence. In China today writers do not lose their lives over their poems or articles; however, they are jailed for years. My friend Liu Xiaobo for example will stay in prison till 2020; even winning the Nobel Peace Prize could not help him. In prison those lucky enough not to be sentenced to hard labor play “blind chess” to kill time AND TO TRAIN THE BRAIN NOT TO RUST. Freedom of expression is still a luxury in China. The firewall is everywhere, yet words can fly above it and so can our thoughts. My column, like the blind chess played by prisoners, is an exercise to keep our brains from rusting and the situation in China from indifference.
- Tienchi Martin-Liao is the president of the Independent Chinese PEN Center. Previously she worked at the Institute for Asian Affairs in Hamburg, Germany, and lectured at the Ruhr-University Bochum from 1985 to 1991. She became head of the Richard-Wilhelm Research Center for Translation in 1991 until she took a job in 2001 as director of the Laogai Research Foundation (LRF) to work on human rights issues. She was at LRF until 2009. Martin-Liao has served as deputy director of the affiliated China Information Center and was responsible for updating the Laogai Handbook and working on the Black Series, autobiographies of Chinese political prisoners and other human rights books. She was elected president of the Independent Chinese PEN Center in October 2009 and has daily contact with online journalists in China.
Today, some people in China freely associate the White Lotus Sect with the religious movement known as Falun Gong. This connection was made on April 25, 1999, after more than ten thousand Falun Gong practitioners emerged out of nowhere and surrounded the power center of Zhongnanhai. The demonstration chilled the CCP, but with lightning speed party chief Jiang Zemin launched a campaign to strike hard against the “cult.” Consequently, the 610 Office was established to handle the Falun Gong movement.
It is said that the government’s policy in dealing with the Falun Gong is to “ruin their reputation, cut off their economic resources, [and] eliminate them physically.” Since such a policy was adopted, horror stories and pictures of its effects have been leaked to the public. According to the reports, Falun Gong followers have been tortured, thrown into re-education labor camps without trial, and their organs have been removed for medical transplants while they were still alive. If the gas chamber was the Nazis’ final solution to the Jews, one can say the labor camp is the Chinese government’s final solution to the Falun Gong. “To be or not to be” is still a searing question in today’s China.
Recently, the outside world learned about one of these re-education camps—the Masanja Labor Camp in Shenyang province—through a prison diary written by Liu Hua, a Falun Gong member. Luckily, when one of Liu’s fellow inmates, Mrs. Wang Guilan, left the camp in September 2011, security did not find the stuff she smuggled out—namely, Liu’s diary, which she hid in her vagina. This precious prison diary discloses the cruel reality of how female prisoners are tortured unto madness or death. They are also forced to work 15 hours a day, with the minimal compensation of 10 yuan ($1.60) a month.
In the past, much information about the maltreatment of Falun Gong practitioners has been exposed through diverse channels. It’s said that there are over 100 means of torture used to force these people to denounce their beliefs. Methods such as hanging upside-down, split legs with head against the floor, savage beating, electric shocks, electric batons, force feeding through the nose, being thrown naked into male cells, and ravaging sexual organs are just a few examples.
Countless deaths and severe mental, as well as physical damages have been reported, although most of the information cannot be confirmed. Yet it is generally known that this is the true situation in female cells. People inside China sometimes witness the arrest and persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, but what happens behind the prison wall is covered with mysticism. However, by observing the deformed and distorted state of a released Falun Gong prisoner, it isn’t difficult to figure out what kind of hell exists behind that wall. Abroad, the Falun Gong movement is financially strong and well-organized. They lobby members of the US congress, organize protests and demonstrations, and initiate activities. The movement also has its own media network; it owns newspapers, film and broadcasting studios, and even a television channel. All of this raises suspicions.
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
This sentence is a favorite among the public intellectuals inside and outside China fighting for freedom of expression and also against each other. But now they are in an embarrassing dilemma. On the one hand, their conscience and knowledge tells them that even people who belong to a secret society or cult have the same civil rights and basic human rights as every other citizen. On the other hand, they do not know how to classify this religious-like group. So they keep their mouths shut in a collective silence. The ignorance of the crimes committed by the CCP against the Falun Gong is shameful. Otherwise brave lawyers, scholars, and journalists have lost their voice in front of the discriminated and tortured Falun Gong minority. They know the injustice, suffering, and calamity that befall this group, but they don’t have the courage to offer help or show solidarity. Anyone who dares show sympathy to the Falun Gong may suffer the same fate as the disappeared and imprisoned lawyer Gao Zhisheng. Today, a persecuted dissident can easily find a lawyer to get legal support, but not a persecuted Falun Gong member. No lawyer wants to dirty his hands. The Falun Gong issue is now next to Tibet and the Uighur issue as an absolute taboo in China. Should someone break the taboo, the Chinese Guantanamo is waiting for him. This is the schizophrenic situation of Chinese intellectuals, the mark of shame on the whole society.