A haunting, hand-written letter identifies majority of forced labor camp victims as Falun Gong practitioners
A US newspaper reports that a letter hand-written by a prisoner in one of China’s most notorious labor camps was secretly stuff into a holiday decoration product that was purchased at Kmart (story). Published on Christmas Day, the newspaper corroborates numerous testimonies from labor camp survivors taken over the last decade of how, under brutal conditions, Chinese prisoners, including prisoners of conscience, are forced to make products often sold in the West.
The Oregonian picked up the story from a resident of Portland, Oregon who found the hand-written letter squeezed between Styrofoam Halloween decorations. The letter was a plea for help from a prisoner at Masanjia Labor Camp, one of China’s deadliest facilities, and known to be especially dedicated to torturing and “transforming” Falun Gong practitioners.
Written in choppy English, the letter ends by describing the people in the labor camp: “Many of them are Falun Gong practitioners, who are totally innocent people…They often suffer more punishment than others.”
Over the past decade, the Falun Dafa Information Center has received an abundance of testimonies from labor camp survivors. The most vicious accounts have consistently been from Masanjia, where 14 - 18 hours of labor a day is the norm for those who are not being held in isolation.
“Sometimes it would be 20 hours or more, if they needed a product urgently,” said Ms. Jia Yahui, who spent fourteen months in Masanjia between 2007 and 2008. Ms. Jia, a Falun Gong practitioner, was abducted in a “pre-Beijing Olympics round-up” and was forced to mostly make products meant for export, including toys, flowers, toiletries and numerous food products.
“I bottled peppers bound for Korea. I made sausage skins. You can’t believe how filthy the conditions were,” says Jia, who now lives in New York.
“The author of the letter certainly risked his or her life,” adds Jia, recalling her months at Masanjia. “They wouldn’t even let us write to our family members. If the letter had been found before being hidden in the decorations, no one would have seen the author again.”
The Re-Education Through Labor (RTL) system in China has been wantonly used in the persecution of Falun Gong because of the financial boon afforded officials responsible for carrying it out.
“The RTL system thrived with the persecution of Falun Gong,” says Falun Dafa Information Center executive director Levi Browde. “Hundreds of thousands populate these facilities. We have received reports that well over half of the population is Falun Gong practitioners,” Browde said.
The RTL system has also been used in the persecution of Falun Gong because subjects can typically be placed there without trial. Abuse, including torture, is common. The Falun Dafa Information Center has confirmed thousands of deaths that occurred directly as a result of such abuse.
The Masanjia Labor Camp is located in China’s northeast province of Liaoning. Cases of severe torture, sometimes resulting in death or driving the victim insane, have emerged from Masanjia over the past decade. Other cases from Masanjia reveal gang rape of female detainees as well as high-pressure brainwashing techniques meant to “break” prisoners’ wills so they swear allegiance to the ruling communist party.
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