QI PAN, LABOR CAMP SURVIVOR
Qi Pan just graduated from medical school and was about to start a new job when she was arrested and severely tortured in prison for appealing to the government to stop the persecution of Falun Gong.
EXCERPT FROM INTERVIEW:
In detention, a lot of people were very sleep-deprived and were still forced to work. It’s very physically taxing. When a person is very sleepy, some dangerous situations occur. For example, some people accidentally get their fingers caught in the sewing machine. And their fingernails get caught and torn, but nobody dares to speak up because the prison guards would be more worried about whether or not the needle broke than if your fingers were cut. As long as you were alive, you just had to keep working.
Many Falun Gong practitioners that I saw detained were quite elderly and some were even very young; I think maybe middle school or high school age. I couldn’t say anything and tried to accompany them during this time of hardship. Frequently, I’d hear the sounds of the electric batons. And often in the middle of the night, I’d hear blood curdling screams from Falun Gong practitioners. That kind of environment just gives a person a lot of pressure, because constantly you are living in a horror story.
I got to know another practitioner in one labor camp. Later we were separated but would often pass each other in the corridor. Sometimes, I’d smile at her when we passed, but then I would then get scolded. If I greeted her, then the guard on the other end would beat her. So to prevent that from happening, I didn’t often say anything.
One day the guard said to me: “Why don’t you go look at her?” I wondered how she could be so nice. I was very happy and started talking to her but she didn’t answer. Then I noticed black spots on her hands and I knew they were the marks of an electric baton. Her eyes were blank, and she had no expression whatsoever. Then I felt a rock in my heart. I asked them: “What did you do to her?” And they said: “Just watch”.
I pinched her a little and said: “Hey, it’s me. Talk to me.” But she was still expressionless. And then I knew, she had already lost her sanity.
On another occasion they put us into a car and took us to a hospital they said was called Masanjia, a prison hospital. There was a doctor who came out and said: “You are psychotic, right? You aren’t transformed right?”
I told her: “There’s nothing wrong with cultivation. I’m not psychotic. I’m a doctor and you’re a doctor. The way you’re treating people is ridiculous. You haven’t asked me any diagnostic questions.”
Then she asked: “Do you have money?” The guard immediately said: “She has money”.
My family members had given me money, about 400 yuan, but the guards didn’t let me spend money or buy anything. So they spent the money on the medicine and said I needed to take it. I told the guard I won’t take it. They said it was for sleeping, for insomnia. I told them, “it’s because you don’t let me sleep!”
For a lot of determined practitioners, they are deprived of their sleep. Oftentimes when other people are sleeping, they force you to squat in the corridor or in the bathroom and don’t let you sleep.
I didn’t want to take the medicine, but they forced me to. They take the powder inside the capsule, mix it with water, have several people pin you down and hold your nose. And the moment you can’t breathe and open your mouth they force it down your throat. Then they hold you down for a long period of time where they don’t allow you to move, until they’re 100% sure you’ve consumed the medicine. And then people will go back and report on it.
The medicine, really made me feel very thirsty. And I felt, sometimes I can’t tell whether it really happened or if it was a dream. And when I try to confirm something, I clearly remember it one way, yet someone will say it was another way. And when I feel sure the other person is telling the truth, I would become very panicked
The medicine also affected my sense of touch. Before, going down the stairs was very quick for me, but after taking the medicine I’d have to learn against the rail for support. When stepping, it didn’t feel like there was support. It was like that.
During this process my family come to visit me once and they were only allowed visits if they used bribes. They found connections within the prisoners so they could see me. I told them I was in danger.
After seeing me, my mom somehow managed to make non-stop phone calls from Dalian to Masanjia and spent over 1000 yuan on the phone in a month. If she wasn’t on the phone, she came to visit the prison.
My sentence time was already up. It was supposed to be a year, but it was already four months over. My mother kept asking them why. They told her I had gone insane because of cultivation and that they didn’t know when I would be released. Eventually they agreed that my family could look for external treatment for me and that’s how I escaped from hell.