A hellish place of torture and exploitation, that’s how an inmate described China’s Masanjia labor camp for women in a smuggled-out report published by a Chinese magazine earlier this month.
But state media outlets, controlled by former regime leader Jiang Zemin, immediately went into overdrive to deny the allegations, no doubt because an investigation would bring to light Ziang’s own involvement and sinister legacy related to Masanjia and other forced labor camps in China—more than 300 of them.
Chinese Lens magazine, an affiliate of the business magazine Caijing, which is said to have ties to Party head Xi Jinping, published an article on April 9, titled “Out of Masanjia” a large labor camp in China’s north-eastern Liaoning Province. The article was based on a handwritten report by a female inmate, depicting gruesome torture methods and harsh working and living conditions, and was smuggled out of the camp by another inmate.
The news was picked up by major international media and has become a focus of public attention in China.
But on April 10, only 1 day after the Lens report, the Ministry of Propaganda, controlled by Liu Yunshan, a faction member of Jiang’s, issued a secret mandate. The mandate, which was leaked out, ordered that there should be no reprint, no comment and no mention of the Masanjia report, according to China Digital Times.
On April 19, Legal Daily, the official newspaper of the Political & Legislative Affairs Committee, one of Jiang’s old power bases, published an official investigation report by Liaoning provincial officials claiming that the content of the Lens report on Masanjia was “seriously groundless” and that the description of torture methods was “maliciously fabricated and created out of nowhere.”
Legal Daily even went so far as to praise the “remarkable achievements” of Masanjia, saying: “The investigation team agrees that Masanjia Women’s Labor Camp has long been abiding by the re-education through labor rules designed by the Chinese Communist Party. It has been strengthening its management and has ‘educated and transformed’ a large number of Falun Gong people. It has maintained social stability. But in the meantime, it has been attacked by overseas Falun Gong organizations and other foreign forces.”
Denial Not Convincing
Zhao Min, the Masanjia victim mentioned in the Lens report, told The Epoch Times that she was feeling very weak and at the same time very irritated over the officials’ denial of violence inside Masanjia. Nobody from the government contacted her, not even by phone, she said.
Epoch Times commentator Xing Tianxing wrote in his latest article, “The appearance of the investigation report is because the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has not stopped the persecution of Falun Gong, and the system of persecution is still running. So the evil acts will continue.”
April 20, another Party backed newspaper, Guangming Daily, said that Legal Daily’s denial was not convincing, and that if the claims of torture in the Lens report were true, those who implemented the tortures are criminals, and the two sides should “face each other in the court of law.”
The different media voices hint at an intense struggle among the party factions, with some inclined to expose and other set on keeping the cover on the dark secrets behind the Masanjia story.
Washington D.C. based China expert Shi Zangshan told The Epoch Times: “The CCP’s persecution of Falun Gong has already become its enigma in the international community. Falun Gong practitioners have been subjected to physical and sexual torture, and have even been killed for their organs. The CCP is afraid of the exposure of all these crimes. The Falun Gong issue is an unavoidable disaster to the CCP. Bigger political storms will be triggered by the differences in dealing with the Falun Gong issue among the CCP’s high-ranking officials. Eventually, the culprit of the persecution will be punished.”
The forwarding function for comments about this news was disabled on Sina Weibo, China’s favorite micro blog service. Forwarding or commenting on this news is prohibited on Sina Weibo.
A Beijing netizen using the pseudonym “Sun 114” said: “Why don’t they let us comment on the Masanjia news, which is at the top of Sohu? What are they afraid of? What are they hiding? From this, we know the report is true.”
Another Weibo user, going by “Communist Lian Peng,” blogged to his more than 189,000 followers: “Not to mention that Liaoning is investigating itself. The result is not convincing.”
Zhang Chaoying, the director of the Liaoning provincial Bureau of Re-education through Labor, is a former director of Masanjia, according to the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of 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.
Li Fangping, a lawyer from Beijing blogged to his 17,000 followers: “Liaoning provincial officials responded with ‘malicious fabrication’ and ‘created out of nowhere.’ Nobody mentioned that Li Wenjuan was harrassed by six police because she reported about having been tortured. This is how the government lost its trust.”
Translation by Sophia Fang. Research by Ariel Tian. Reporting by Tang Ming. Written in English by Gisela Sommer.