Brainwashing Centres - the Most Cruel of China's "Black Jails"

Voice of America and other media reported that on November 12th, the New York-based human rights organisation, Human Rights Watch, published a report discussing the inhuman situation of China's illegal prisons. According to the Human Rights Watch report, since 2003, a large number of Chinese citizens have been secretly detained in illegal detention centres called "black jails," with sentences ranging from a few days to several months.

On Thursday, the spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry, Qin Gang denied that there were such prisons in China where people were treated cruelly and inhumanly.

Human Rights Watch claimed to have interviewed thirty-eight people alleging to have been detained in "black jails." AFP articles, Voice of Germany and other media reported, based on interviewees' statements, "The 'black jails,' places where people are treated inhumanly, exist despite Chinese laws that forbid the existence of such prisons. What former detainees call 'black jails,' local officials call 'law educational centres.'" Many such centres are in actuality also brainwashing centres, forbidden under international law.

Brainwashing Centres

In fact, since July 1999, the beginning of the persecution of Falun Gong, brainwashing centres and illegal detention facilities have been used to inhumanly torture Falun Gong practitioners without a second thought and on a large scale, especially those who travelled to Beijing to appeal for justice and the right to practise Falun Gong.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had done everything in its power to stop practitioners from going to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong. In order to force practitioners to renounce their belief, the authorities have tortured practitioners, detained them in brainwashing centres and forced them to attend brainwashing "classes." The cruel prison system has become the most convenient tool for the CCP to illegally and brutally persecute Falun Gong practitioners. Over the past ten years, brainwashing centres have been established everywhere throughout China.

In Chengdu, the known brainwashing centres are Xinjin Brainwashing Centre, Jinniu Brainwashing Centre, Wuhou Jihua Brainwashing Centre and Chenghua Brainwashing Centre. Chengjin Brainwashing Centre, the official name of which is "Chengdu City Law-Enforcement Educational Centre," is located in Xinjin County, Chengdu City. It is notorious for its abuse of detainees and is representative of all other such centres. This centre is located in Huanong Township, in the south part of Chengdu City, and jointly managed by the Sichuan Province 610 Office (an organisation of special agents just for persecuting Falun Gong) and the Chengdu City 610 Office. It was originally an Air Force research institute. At a later date, under the direction of Sichuan Province and Chengdu City officials including Li Chuncheng, the former Xinjin Drug Addiction Treatment Centre and another detention centre for detaining prostitutes became part of the Xinjing Caiwan Brainwashing Centre.

Persecuting Practitioners

Falun Gong practitioners detained at the brainwashing centre were arrested off the streets, on their way home, when going to work and at their workplaces. Some even were taken to the centre after having been detained at forced labour camps or prisons, after their terms were already served. For practitioners, terms were randomly extended and the length of time could exceed three years.

To force practitioners to renounce their belief, officials at the Xinjin Brainwashing Centre adopted many methods to torture practitioners. They employed both "hard" and "soft" methods, fabricated lies about Falun Gong, feigned kindness, beat practitioners, used psychological pressure, injected practitioners with drugs that damaged the nervous system, put drugs into practitioners' water or food, force-fed practitioners, and tried to extort money from practitioners and their families.

Officials at the brainwashing centres demanded that practitioners pay 2,500 yuan1 for living expenses, prior to 2005. For every practitioner "transformed" at these centres, the centre staff received a large bonus. A preliminary estimate of money extorted from practitioners between 2003 and 2005, when the centre was established, is two million yuan.

Ms. Guo Lirong Arrested

At around 3 a.m. on July 18th, police officers arrested Ms. Guo Lirong, a Falun Gong practitioner from Chengdu City and a former engineer at the Qianfeng Group Companies, on her way to work. They took her to the Xinjin Brainwashing Centre. Ms. Guo's elderly and ill parents hired two well-known human rights lawyers, Lan Zhixue and Li Jingli, to defend their daughter.

The lawyers wrote a letter on behalf of Ms. Guo's parents in which they stated, "The 'brainwashing centres' are a legacy of the 'Great Cultural Revolution,' and illegal under existing law. It is a part of today's law-enforcement society, but in the form of a separate law not written into China's Constitution. It is being rumoured that people imprisoned there are exposed to 'enforced study,' have no personal freedom, no right to communicate with their families, no right to meet with their family members, no exact term of imprisonment, no access to legal assistance and legal aid, no basic human rights, and worse, some are mistreated and tortured, resulting in injury. Some became disabled or died. We hope that all levels of government will come to terms with the illegality of such centres, and put an end to this misconduct, something that has no grounds in China's legal system. We don't want to see a return of the Great Cultural Revolution. The so-called 'study class' is not legal. It is also rumoured that to justify such activity, it was called 'law-enforcement educational centre.' In reality, the existence of such 'education' is criminal and illegal, limiting citizens' personal freedom by giving it legitimacy through deceptive forms."

Ms. Guo said that despite intervention by these lawyers, when she protested her illegal detention by staging a hunger strike, she was subjected to brutal forced-feeding in which the perpetrators forced her mouth open with pliers, resulting in injury to her tooth bed.

Mr. Xie Deqing Tortured to Death

On April 29th, 2009, Mr. Xie Deqing, a retired engineer from the Chengdu Survey and Design Institute Water Research Institute, was arrested outside of the Gapxin District Court and detained at Xinjin Brainwashing Centre. He was tortured so severely that within a month he became emaciated, was urinary incontinent, could barely swallow water, and developed heart disease. On the evening of May 27th, Mr. Xie passed away just four days after returning home. In order to destroy the evidence of abuse in custody, at 3 a.m. on May 29th, a large number of officers crashed Mr. Xie's funeral ceremony. They beat his eldest son Xie Weidong and injured him. Then they took away Mr. Xie's body and had it cremated.

Perpetrators Find Enjoyment in Torture

Well-known scholar, university law school lecturer Deng Bo, Ph.D., wrote in his book "Thought and Memory When Facing Violence - For Li Heping," "In Falun Gong practitioners' and some criminal offence cases I have dealt with, officials, guards, officers and others that are in the driver's seat, do not use torture to obtain evidence or transform the mind; rather, cruel torture has been instead turned into entertainment and pleasure. It fulfils psychological needs and the purpose for handing out cruel punishment is for the sake of cruel punishment." This is perhaps the driving force of those working in the Xinjin Brainwashing Centre or other brainwashing centres.

Practitioners Persecuted at the Xinjin Brainwashing Centre in Chengdu

1. Ms. Liu Senle is 53 years old. In April 2003, she was arrested in Xindu City, Chengdu and detained at the Xinjin Brainwashing Centre. She was tortured until she was on the verge of death. On May 23rd, when she was released, she had no shoes, her entire body ached, her head was swollen, her chest was bruised, her abdomen was swollen and she was spitting white foam. She held her stomach at all times. Three days later, Ms. Liu passed away.

2. Ms. Li Xiaojun, 52 years old, was from Chengdu City. She was a senior engineer at the Environment Protection Bureau. Between 2003 and July 2004, when she was detained at the Xinjin Brainwashing Centre, she went on a hunger strike to protest her detention. Ms. Li was force-fed and she lost all her upper teeth. Now, she cannot chew when eating.

3. Ms. Liu Hui, in her 30s, was an excellent teacher at the Jinqin Road Primary School. In October 2006, when her four-year prison term was up, she was arrested and detained at the Xinjin Brainwashing Centre. It has been more than three years since she was incarcerated at the brainwashing centre. It was rumoured that Ms. Liu was force-fed and her mouth opened with a tool, and she was also tortured.

4. Ms. Li Xihui is 46 years old. She was a cadre at the Sichuan People's Broadcasting Station, and has been detained at the brainwashing centre for nearly three years.

5. Ms. Xu Yourong is 51 years old. She was a senior Teacher at the Jincheng Foreign Language School in Chengdu City. On August 1st, 2007, she was arrested during a mass arrest of practitioners by Chengdu officials. She was detained at the Jinhua Brainwashing Centre in Wuhou District for more than one year. Then, she was transferred to the Xinjin Brainwashing Centre and not been released yet.

6. Ms. Liu Gongli is a retired employee. On March 3rd, 2008, she was arrested by 610 Office agents at her place of work and officers from the Shengdengsi Police Station at home. She is still detained at the brainwashing centre and is suffering torture.

7. Ms. Zhu Xia, 34 years old, from Guangrong District in Chengdu City. In 2001, on her son's first birthday, she was arrested and detained at the Nanmusi Women's Forced Labour Camp in Sichuan Province for more than 18 months. After that, she was arrested by He Yuanfu, the Head of the 610 Office in Guangrong District and detained at the Bi County Brainwashing Centre. Then Ms. Zhu was taken to the Xinjin Brainwashing Centre. In February 2004, because of appeal by the international community, she was rescued and released. However, a beautiful young woman had become disfigured and now suffers from a mental disorder. She was raped at the Pi County Brainwashing Centre.

8. Ms. Liu Ying is from Qinglongchang in Chengdu. From September 2005 to January 2006, she was detained at the the Chenghua District Brainwashing Centre by Zhang Fumin, the person in charge of the Qinglongchang Armed Forces. She was cruelly beaten and given toxic drugs. Her legs were beaten and broken. Ms. Liu was several times near death. Her family members were not given any news about her. Later, after her father repeatedly asked officials about her whereabouts, she was released. She suffered a mental collapse due to her abuse in detention.

The crimes perpetrated in the brainwashing centres have by far exceeded the boundaries of decent human behaviour and are a black mark on humanity.

We hope that the Human Rights Watch report will bring more attention to the cruel "black jails" in China, including the illegal brainwashing centres. We hope that mainstream media and the international society will finally come to terms with the cruel activities in China and demand that they be stopped immediately.


1. "Yuan" is the Chinese currency; 500 yuan is equal to the average monthly income of an urban worker in China.

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