Chinese Authorities Muzzle Labor Camp Victims After Exposé

By Jane Lin
Jane Lin
Jane Lin
April 18, 2013 Updated: April 23, 2013

Liaoning authorities announced on April 8 that they are investigating the torture of detainees in Masanjia Labor Camp reported by Chinese media Lens Magazine, but China experts said police are actually trying to silence the victims.

State media People’s Daily reported that Liaoning provincial Justice Department, provincial Bureau of Re-education through Labor, and Procuratorial Units have teamed up to look into the reports of torture. 

However, rights activists Hu Jia said on Twitter that the investigation is not about abuses at Masanjia at all, but to find out how the information was leaked and reported by the media.

Zhang Chaoying, the director of the Liaoning provincial Bureau of Re-education through Labor, was a former director at Masanjia, according to World Organization to Investigate the Persecution Against Falun Gong. 

This indicates that the leaders of the investigation team include the perpetrators, and according to Chinese human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong, they thus have no credibility.  

Jiang said he had filed a complaint to all departments who are now conducting the investigation on behalf of Falun Gong practitioner Sun Yi, one of the victims,. “Officials in these organizations are well aware of the torture that goes on in Masanjia, and are therefore all criminals,” Jiang said.

Former taxation officer Li Wenjuan was tortured at Masanjia in 2006. After hearing about the investigation, she and several former detainees went to the Liaoning Justice Department to provide information to the investigation team. 

The victims were asked to leave their identification information and cellphone numbers, but “they didn’t ask us anything else, or take any documents we presented, or listen to what we said,” Li told The Epoch Times, “They just took a video of us before we left.” 

They also went to the Liaoning office of state media People’s Daily, and were warmly received by the reporters at first, according to Li. However, things started to change when more victims visited the office two days later, as reporters said they had been ordered not to report on Masanjia.

Meanwhile, Lens magazine’s article was deleted from Chinese websites. China Digital Time reported that on April 9, the Central Propaganda Department issued censorship instructions to the media from government authorities to “not reuse, report, or comment” on the Masanjia article.

Li told The Epoch Times that a policeman banged on her door at 8 p.m. on April 13, saying he needed her cooperation with the investigation and she must go with him.

Li refused to open the door and has since been confined to her home. Li told New Tang Dynasty Television she was scared, because she was tortured while at Masanjia, and if she gets arrested again, she would not survive.  

Another group of victims who went to the provincial Justice Department on April 11 to present their cases received similar treatment. They then visited the local newspaper and asked authorities in Shenyang, including the local Justice Department, to be recused from the investigation.

One of the victims was a petitioner named Gai Fengzhen. A source told The Epoch Times that Gai received a threating phone call from a stranger claiming to be a reporter late on April 11; the man warned Gai to stay out of trouble.  

In a report by Deutsche Welle on April 8, Gai said she suffered excruciating torture in Masanjia in 2008. “They were so cruel. … Other people see things like this in the movies, but we had to experience it personally.” 

In fact, police have managed to locate all the victims reported by the media and force them to sign a guarantee statement, according to activist Hu Jia’s Twitter post.

Authorities in Liaoning obviously are trying to silence the victims, political commentator Heng He told the Sound of Hope Radio Network. “The investigation team is doing the exact opposite of what victims have hoped for.” 

He suggested that the current investigation team members be removed, as they have a conflict of interest with the victims. “They were the ones who initiated and encouraged torture in Masanjia,” he said.

Jane Lin