Mr. Liu Ruping, an attorney in Jinan City, Shandong Province, was sent to the Shandong Province Legal Training Center in Liuchangshan, Jinan City, on October 17, 2005, to be brainwashed. His family was blackmailed during his detention and he was also told that he would be sent to a labor camp unless he stopped practicing Falun Gong. Mr. Liu's 84-year-old father was so upset by the news that he suffered a stroke and passed away on November 14.
Mr. Liu had written an open letter to the Chinese government that detailed how detaining and trying to brainwash Falun Gong practitioners violates China's constitution. He urged the government to “immediately stop the forced brainwashing of Falun Gong practitioners.” A translation of his letter follows.
Despite the stated national policy of “Governing the country according to the law, building a country with the rule of law,” the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners is still occurring and it operates outside of China's legal system. The practitioners' requests to use legal means to protect their rights are not granted and lawyers are not allowed to represent them. The punishments meted out to Falun Gong practitioners, which include forced brainwashing, do not follow legal procedures and all are clear and indisputable violations of established laws. Worse still, those who implement the laws regard these violations as the norm. Every day, they “implement the law” in a manner that is against their consciences. The forced brainwashing of Falun Gong practitioners has no legal backing and is a serious violation of the law. Hence I urge the government here and now to immediately stop the forced brainwashing of Falun Gong practitioners.
I: The Forced Abduction Process is Illegal
Since July of 1999, most of the brainwashing of Falun Gong practitioners has been conducted via “brainwashing classes” (literally meaning “transformation classes” also called “legal training centers”) and in labor camps. All of the Falun Gong practitioners sent to these classes or labor camps were abducted. These abductions were done illegally, either by secret arrests from their homes, at government appeals bureaus, or when the practitioners were in public and distributing truth-clarification materials.
When abducting a Falun Gong practitioner to send him or her to a brainwashing center, the abductor doesn't show any legal documents. No legal process is followed when sending practitioners to, or dismissing them from, a brainwashing center. Thus they have no written evidence of ever having been illegally deprived of their physical freedom. For example, an elderly female practitioner from a rural area in Changqing District, Jinan City, was abducted and detained at the brainwashing center in Jinan (the Jinan Legal Training Center) for approximately 20 days by the Changqing Police Department and Changqing 610 Office. The reason she was detained was for lighting some firecrackers on May 13, to celebrate “World Falun Dafa Day.” Another elderly female practitioner from the Lixia District was arrested while she was distributing truth-clarification materials at Qianfoshan and sent to a brainwashing center in Jinan. Neither of these abductions followed any legal procedure. Were the abductees criminals? No, just citizens deprived of the right to a trial. Just because they practice Falun Gong, their freedom was taken away and they were sent to a center to be brainwashed.
I was also taken away by the Dongguan branch of the Changqing Police Department on October 17, while posting “An Announcement by the Falun Dafa Association.” On the 18th, I was detained for “having used a (omitting the government's slanderous sobriquet) organization to violate state laws.” On October 25, I was released because it was “a minor violation insufficient for prosecution.” However, at the same time, I was abducted by the Changqing Police's “Anti-(slander omitted) Investigation Team” and sent to a brainwashing class in Jinan. Because of his concern for me, after suffering much anger and anxiety, my father passed away on November 14. The Village Committee persuaded the brainwashing center administrators to allow me to return home for a week so I could attend my father's funeral. I am now homeless and on the run. At the detention center, I was not served an arrest warrant. I only have a certificate of release. No document was shown to me when I was arrested or when sent to the brainwashing class. II: Brainwashing in Labor Camps is Illegal
If a Falun Gong practitioner is not “transformed” during the brainwashing sessions, he or she will be sent to a labor camp for forced brainwashing behind closed doors.
Many educated and thoughtful people in China have realized and declared that the labor camp system is illegal and should be immediately abolished. Currently, the labor camps are dark and dismal dungeons where the guards and the 610 offices detain and torture Falun Gong practitioners at will. The labor camp system clearly and seriously violates Articles 5, 33, 37 and 38 of the Constitution, Article 10 of the Administrative Punishment Law, and Article 8 of the Legislative Law. This system enables the police to deprive a citizen of up to three years of personal freedom, leaving the person with no process to appeal or dispute the sentence. When a decision to send a detainee to the labor camp is made, she or he is immediately sent to the camp.
It is unthinkable that, in a civilized society governed by the rule of law, detainees have neither physical freedom nor any legal rights. All citizens, including the police, know that the labor camp system violates the constitution and the basic laws, yet they allow it to continue. This is contrary to the national policy to establish a country based on law and is against the government's goal to create a harmonious society.
III: The Act of Forced Brainwashing is Illegal
The purpose of using brainwashing to achieve a so-called “transformation” is to change Falun Gong practitioners' thoughts and faith. Falun Gong students want to be good people and to continually improve. Their thoughts are noble and their actions are civil. So what's the point of “transforming” them? The brainwashing classes have no curriculum or training plan and the amount of time spent in class varies. Every day, the staff members play slanderous videos to brainwash practitioners and force them to write “understandings” that renounce Falun Gong.
Furthermore, detainees in a brainwashing center are forced to pay a “transformation fee” of up to 100 yuan (Chinese dollar) per day. The most absurd and ridiculous thing about the brainwashing center is that a practitioner's statement promising not to practice Falun Gong again, or the writing of the “promise letters” (to neither practice or appeal for the right to practice, etc.), even if it is against the practitioner's will, can determine whether one will be released, sentenced to prison, or have their terms extended.
Exactly what laws are the camps enforcing? Is there a law that gives police the power to release practitioners if they curse Falun Gong or its Teacher, or that empowers the police to detain practitioners when they refuse to do so? This is a disgrace to a civilized government as well as to those in the law enforcement profession. No other country in history has acted so absurdly.
We all know that, according to both common and civil law, a country's criminal laws can only restrict people's actions, not their thoughts or personal identities. The Chinese laws are no exception. However, the reality is that a large number of citizens who practice Falun Gong are penalized, stigmatized, and sent for brainwashing simply because they define themselves as Falun Gong practitioners. This is transgresses the rule of law and is a brutal violation of the current principles of criminal law. It is thus clear who is damaging the implementation of the laws. Therefore, forced brainwashing is contrary to the principles of the Constitution, violates criminal law, and thus has no legal basis.
As a lawyer, I am faithful to the laws and want to protect justice in society. I strongly urge the government to stop the forced brainwashing of Falun Gong practitioners. I speak not only from my conscience, the conscience of a Chinese person who is not afraid to defend his own right to freedom of belief, but also from my most fundamental mission as a member of the legal profession in China.
Attorney from Jinan City, Liu Ruping November 22, 2005