Almost Sent to a Concentration Camp–My Ordeal

June 11, 2006Updated: June 11, 2006

In 1999 and 2000, at the beginning of the persecution of Falun Gong in China, many Falun Gong practitioners were detained in China for going to Beijing to appeal for their right to religious freedom. Since witnesses from China have come forward exposing the practice of organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners. Those who were detained during the early 2000's have revisited their arrests with a fresh perspective. Chen Ying, who now lives in France, was arrested three times and jailed in the Chaoyang Detention Center in 2000 for practicing Falun Gong. There she witnessed some of her fellow practitioners being sent to concentration camps from which Chen Ying had a narrow escape. It is likely that many of those people have since become victims of organ harvesting.

'Accused By One Of Their Own'

Chen Ying was born in Zibo City, Shandong Province in 1970. She was working as a secretary for the Office of China Clothing Groups Inc. She began practicing Falun Gong in 1996. In 1998 she went to Paris, France with her husband who worked for the Education Department of the Chinese Embassy. She was in Paris on April 25, 1999 when over 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners appealed to the Chinese authorities in Beijing. On April 26, in solidarity with her fellow practitioners, she told the members of the Chinese Embassy in France about her experiences practicing Falun Gong in an effort to show them that the practice is a good one.

Senior members of the consulate did not react kindly to her presenting the truth about Falun Gong. “To use my husband's words, the embassy officials saw it as 'being accused by one of their own,' which was something unheard of and very shaming for them,” said Ying. “For them, it was something that had never happened in Chinese diplomatic history.”

“Everyone in the Ministry of Education and Chinese embassies came to know my name because of this incident, and it earned me the hatred of the education minister Chen Zhili. It was she who had my passport and French resident permit revoked when I was arrested for the first time.”

Arrested Three Times, and Detained in Labor Camp for One Year

Ying was arrested three times after she went back to China in 1999. The first time was after going to Tiananmen Square to appeal before Chinese New Year in 2000. She went there to tell the government that Falun Gong practitioners are innocent people, and many people around the world are practicing Falun Gong. That time she was released with parole and placed under the watch of her company. The next arrest came at a fellow practitioner's home in September 2000. The charge was “three people gathering illegally,” and she was again held in detention. She was released after her husband applied enormous pressure through multiple channels.

The third time she was arrested had much worse consequences.

“On the afternoon of November 23 in 2000, I was arrested in my home by the local police, who said they wanted to question me about my residential certificate. It was a trick and they held me at Chaoyang Detention Center for three months, and then sent me to Beijing Xinan Women's Labor Camp for one year. When I was finally released I found that I had lost both my job and my husband,” said Ying.

She explained, “My husband was seriously brainwashed by the CCP. He thought I made him lose face and created troubles. I couldn't continue to stay in China and had to go to France and continue my studies. We loved each other very much, but for the sake of his future, he was forced to divorce me.”

Chen Ying's photo, taken when she was in school. (The Epoch Times)
Chen Ying's photo, taken when she was in school. (The Epoch Times)

She'll Never Forget

While in detention after her second arrest, Ying said she came into contact with thousands of fellow practitioners who had also been illegally detained. They came from all over China.

“Many of them had refused to give their names to the police,” said Ying, “so they were issued numbers. The police pinned a piece of paper with an I.D. number to their clothes. In the two months that I was in that facility, I saw the numbers increase above 5000.”

It was routine practice for practitioners not to reveal their names when they were detained at that time—they did not want to endanger their families and friends. Many Falun Gong practitioners were being arrested at that time and the penalties for appealing were fairly systematized.

Ying explained, “If you were arrested for appealing in Beijing you had to pay a fine ranging from 2,000 yuan (US$249.65) to 10,000 yuan ($1,248.25). If the person was from another area of the country they might face as much as three years in prison once they were returned to their hometown. As for Beijing practitioners, if you appealed before New Year's Eve of 2001 the sentence was one year in prison. After that the penalty increased to a year and a half.”

The detention center where Ying was held was constantly full of people. New detainees filed in every day. Her cell alone was crowded with more than 35 people. Ying said that she forgot many things from those days but that there were some things she saw that she will never forget.

“One practitioner I remembered the most was a girl of about 20 years old. She was skinny, but quiet. She seemed to be a college student. I don't know where she was from and where she went. But I will remember the first time I saw that girl for the rest of my life,” said Ying.

“That was a very chilly winter day. I heard the inmates who used to be prostitutes or drug users saying that this Falun Gong practitioner had been on hunger strike for several days. The police took her into a room without a heater and opened all of the windows. They tied her arms and legs onto a wooden board and they force-fed her for several days straight, but she kept up her resistance. The police saw that she wouldn't give in, so they devised another method.”

Ying continued, “When the police carried her into our cell, everybody was shocked. Even the inmates were so stunned and shocked that they couldn't say a word for a long time. Her body was covered with wounds and she had been fastened tightly to the Death Bed [1], with her arms at her sides and her legs spread apart. She was dressed only in a t-shirt, and her lower half was completely naked.”

“She was just left there lying exposed in front of us. There were both male and female police present. An overwhelming sadness and shame descended heavily upon me. My tears immediately fell upon seeing her like that. Most of the practitioners in the room were also crying. Later on, we all joined together with that young girl and held a group hunger strike.”

The hooligan policemen said as long as she continued refusing to eat, she would have to be 'put on display' like this. To torture her even more, the police force-fed her nothing but a mixture of extremely salty soup, soy milk and pepper. She would feel thirsty and want water, but as soon as she drank she would urinate, yet the police kept her tied on the wood board without letting her down even when she defecated and urinated. They left her to do it lying down, with only a basin underneath the bed to receive it.

The practitioner in the stretched position closed her eyes tightly, painfully. The physiological devastation and psychological humiliation made each one of us feel as devastated as if we were her.

The practitioner was tied in the Death Bed for several days until she could no longer stand the physical and mental torture and gave up her hunger strike. But the police did not do what they had promised—that they would take her down as soon as she stop hunger strike. They continued tying her on the bed for two more days, “making sure she has been transformed.” At the same time, they force-fed her with great amounts of water while keeping her on the bed around the clock.

When the police finally released her from the wooden bed, she had lost the feeling in her arms and legs but kept shaking. That night she asked me sadly, “What did I do wrong?” “Was I wrong?” I told her with tears in my eyes, “No, you didn't do anything wrong. Don't feel bad. What they did to you was against nature, inhuman.” Later on the practitioner was taken away by the police. Nobody knows her whereabouts, and nobody has seen her since.

Sent to the Falun Gong Base in Hebei Province

“I remember an old auntie from the countryside. She was in her 60s. She had short hair and was very healthy with a rosy face. She had a northeastern Chinese accent. The old auntie said she couldn't read, and had never traveled before. But she understood a truth: Falun Gong had cured her illness, and therefore she wanted to come out from home to do Falun Gong's justice. But she was arrested as well, and her whereabouts became unknown.

There was an auntie around 60 years old from Beijing. She was medium height, looked very healthy and was literate. Seeing the practitioner stripped naked by the police and tied on the Death Bed, the auntie questioned the police, “Why are you treating us women like this! We are all fellow countrymen! Are you the 'People's Police?' Are you [what you have done] worthy of the national emblem on your head and shoulder? Release her at once!”

No sooner were her words spoken than a policewoman in her 20s jumped to her and dragged her out of the prison cell. We could hear the sound of beating and scolding outside. The policewoman must be mad to beat someone older than her mother.

There was a young girl from the north who had long hair and large eyes. She went on a hunger strike as soon as she was brought in. The police ordered the drug addicts to drag her out of the prison cell and take her to a room in which wind came in from all directions and strip her naked to freeze her.

I remember the night before the auntie was taken away, suddenly police came in and ordered, “Number such and such, pack your things, you leave here first thing tomorrow morning.” Several people in our cell were called. I thought they were being released and was very happy for them. But I heard a drug addict say, “Bring your quilts and basins.”

Before dawn the next morning, we, led by the fully armed police, gathered for roll call in the yard. The practitioners being called went to the yard and the police took them away before long. Later on, according to the drug addicts, they were taken away by train, sent to a newly built Falun Gong base (in fact, a concentration camp), and “would never come out alive.”

A Strange Physical Exam

Afterwards I went on hunger strike again to protest the illegal detention and the violence. A week later, I was taken to a police car in handcuffs and foot shackles, with another young Falun Gong practitioner. When the car stopped, I found we were taken to a hospital.

It was sort of strange that the hospital was so quiet. The police led us to take a complete physical examination including a heart exam, electrocardiogram, blood test and vision screening. After the tests, a policeman said to me, “You have not eaten and drunk for such a long time, but you are still in very good shape.” I replied, “Yes, practicing Falun Gong and being a good person, my body is certainly good. We are healthy, and we don't need to have a physical exam.” He asked further “Did you have any health problems?” I said, “I was not ill, I practice Falun Gong not because of illness, but because I feel that Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance teaches people to be good and learn virtue, and it is wonderful.” He asked again, “How is your heart?” and I said, “It is very good; but I had an irregular heartbeat before I practiced Falun Gong.”

The policeman went away, and then he came back with quite a few bottles of drugs by intravenous injection in his arms. He said that the drugs were good for us and we would be given them intravenously.

This photo was taken in Paris, France in 2006. (The Epoch Times)
This photo was taken in Paris, France in 2006. (The Epoch Times)

Painful Reaction After Injection

“After coming back to the detention center, the police handcuffed us to the window and gave us intravenous injections. Once the injection entered into my body, I suddenly felt my heart pumping fast; I felt that my blood vessels were so painful as if the vessels were broken. I felt nervous and suffocated, and my body was unusually uncomfortable. They wanted to inject three bottles of drugs into our bodies.”

Later a policeman [of] fifty came to me and asked me why I did not tell my name and why I was resistant. He was quite kind from his appearance and he looked at me with anxious concern. He said, “Then tell me your name! If you do not tell your name, you won't be kept staying here and you definitely will be delivered elsewhere.”

He did not look very violent, so I told him my name and said that I lived in Beijing. He called Babaoshan police station where my home was located and I was escorted home by a local policeman.

By then, I had been illegally detained nearly for a month. Since the injection, the left side of my body often appeared to spasm, and the nerve was numb and painful. I became very temperamental, and I felt like crying and couldn't control my temper. I was in a somber, stressful mood as if I was going to collapse. Moreover, my memory worsened and I always felt sleepy and slept a lot. Afterwards many of my memories were lost, especially the experience in the detention center. After I went abroad, I slowly recalled that miserable experience when I read the online Minghui articles [Minghui is a Falun Gong web site] about the persecution other practitioners once suffered.

When I first read the online article about organ harvesting from live Falun Gong practitioners in concentration camps in China, my tears fell unceasingly. Back then the police may have had the intention to destroy my nervous system using the drugs and then send me to a camp for organ removal. I tremble with fear at the think of my past experience.

Note: [1] The Death Bed (also named the Death Board) is a very cruel torture device. It is made of steel or a wooden board equipped with shackles. The victim's four limbs are fixed to the board for at least seven days. Because of completely losing the freedom to move, victims usually suffer from muscle degeneration. In severe cases, victims lose control of their bowels and bladders. They excrete directly on the steel plate, causing an unhygienic condition. In order to avoid the trouble of cleaning up, victims would usually be allowed to wear only a T-shirt, or sometimes even nothing at all, further denigrating the victims. Because victims are usually tied to the Death Bed for many days, this torture is combined with the torture of force-feeding.