'The Ghosts Walked the Earth, While We Lived in Hell'

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china-women-labor-camp-file.jpg A file photo of inmates at a women's labor camp in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China.
EyePress News

Liu Hua spent three years at the Masanjia Women's re-education through labor facility outside the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang for lodging persistent complaints against the government. In a recent documentary directed by Du Bin and screened this month in Taipei for the first time, Liu talks about her experience and the lengths she went to to get her account to the outside world:

A graveyard was demolished and the Masanjia labor camp was built on top of it, so the land cost virtually nothing. The police in the camp told us that under the ground were ghosts, and above ground were the women sentenced to re-education through labor. But the women in the camp used to say that the ghosts lived above ground, while we in the labor camp lived in the underworld, in Hell. We were the women living above the ghosts' heads.

The re-education through labor system is the most evil system in the world, and an insult to humanity, and the Masanjia Women's Re-education Through Labor Camp in Shenyang, Liaoning, is one of these evil places. In there, were weren't treated like women, but as slaves and hostages of this evil system.

Pens and paper were forbidden in the labor camp, as if they were loaded guns used by frontline troops. No one was allowed to have them. But I had a little pen there in the camp, only so big, that I could hide in my pockets or shove it inside my shoe, where I'd made a slit in the sole. I suffered three or four beatings at the hands of the camp bosses for writing.

There were times when I couldn't sleep at night, and I'd cover my head with the quilt and write, right there in bed, with my butt stuck up in the air, so they couldn't see what I was doing. Then I would hide it, and I'd be terrified that they would come across it. This is my diary that I wrote during the three years that I was in the labor camp. Everything that happened, in every minute of every day, I wrote it down. I made a record of all the evil things they did, and the torture we suffered, the beatings, the hanging and stretching, the dead person's bed and the tiger bench.

I wrote it all down, piecemeal, and it was smuggled out by women in their vaginas. Every time they let a bunch of people out, I would give it to them.

There were three different production brigades.... The Falun Gong practitioners would wear black. The three brigades all had different color uniforms and different quotas and production targets.... I brought my uniform out. It was bought for me by my fellow prisoners inside there. My husband and I have both been sent to labor camp.... I wanted the world to know about our suffering in there, and the dark truths about it.

Reported by Lee Tung for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated by Luisetta Mudie.


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