Police Target Labor Camp Whistleblowers

Email story
Comment on this story
Print story
A file photo of a guard watching over women "re-education through labor" detainees during a drill in Chongqing.
A file photo of a guard watching over women "re-education through labor" detainees during a drill in Chongqing.
EyePress News

Women who blew the whistle on abuses and torture at a labor camp in northeastern China have been targeted by police as the authorities probe reports of abuses of women inmates, many of them pregnant.

Li Wenjuan, who has spent time inside the Masanjia Women's Re-eduction Through Labor facility in Liaoning province, said more than 10 police officers had bashed down her door and tried to take her away following a recent expose by the magazine Lens of alleged torture and abuse at the camp.

She said the police action came after they continued to bang on the door from Friday evening right until 3.00 a.m. on Saturday.

"At around 8.00 p.m. on Friday, they came banging on my door, and I asked them which department they were from, and what they were doing," Li said in an interview on Monday. "They said they were police officers, and they'd come to detain Li Wenjuan."

Then, around three hours after the knocking stopped, they made a concerted attempt to force their way into her apartment.

"This time, they weren't just knocking on the door, they were trying to break it down," Li said.

"They had hired a locksmith to pick the lock, but I stood there and held it shut the whole time."

Li said she had told police she would rather jump to her death from her apartment than allow herself to be detained.

Meanwhile, Zhao Min, a Liaoning-based petitioner and former Masanjia inmate, received a phone call from police wanting to come to her home after she was interviewed by Lens magazine for its April 7 expose.

"She sent me a text saying that the police station had called to say they wanted to come round to her home, but she said, 'no,'" said fellow former inmate Gai Fengzhen, who has also spoken out about her experiences inside Masanjia.

"The police told her not to give any interviews to the foreign media, otherwise they would 'go over there and deal with her.'"

"There was another [Lens interviewee], Gao Fenglan," Gai said. "The police paid her a visit, and called her husband."

"Her husband told her the police were coming round to her home, so she didn't open the door."

Investigations stalled

Gai said some of the Masanjia former inmates had been directed to the investigation team at the Liaoning provincial government by local government prosecutors, but were later unable to locate it.

"The investigation team isn't investigating anything," Li Wenjuan said. "When you give them evidence, they don't want it."

"I thought they were going to blow the lid of the whole Masanjia scandal, but actually they're just putting it back on again," she added.

Calls to the Liaoning provincial government offices and the Liaoning provincial police department went unanswered during office hours on Monday.

Censors in Beijing have issued an information blackout after the Lens article described a litany of abuse and torture of female inmates.

The magazine quoted the diary of Masanjia inmate Wang Guilan as saying that police arbitrarily detained petitioners under the pretext of "maintaining stability" and committed a wide range of horrible abuses against them.

The diary recorded how the camp accepted pregnant women and disabled individuals, forcing them to do strenuous labor for up to 14 hours a day, or risk being beaten or given other punishments.

The reports were similar to allegations made by another former inmate in an interview with RFA's Mandarin service in January.

According to the diary of former inmate Wang Guilan, guards chained detainees to chairs or beds and tortured them in hideous ways. The women were also ordered to monitor each other closely.

Detainees were denied basic nourishment or medical care, even after becoming physically and mentally ill, and cancer sufferers were not given medical treatment, Wang said.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin service and by Hai Nan for the Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.





More Listening Options

View Full Site