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Friday, September 24, 2010

Escape from China: A Falun Gong torture victim’s story


Look here to view some of the torture methods used on Falun Gong

The Khaleej Times: LONDON –But ghosts from the past often come back to haunt her. “Even though my body has been released, my mind is still in the prison,” she told the Khaleej Times. “The memories come back sometimes when I’m reading a book, or on a bus. I find I’m suddenly crying again.”

Annie was first arrested back in 2005 for practising Falun Gong, a spiritual practice which has been banned in China and its followers viciously persecuted. She was taken to a detention centre, and from there began a nightmare ordeal or torture and ideological indoctrination, which brought her to the verge of physical and mental collapse.

Her case is a reminder that, even though China has emerged as one of the world’s most powerful economies, it remains one of the worst violators of human rights around the world. Unverified reports suggest that some 3,406 Falun Gong practitioners have died in Chinese labour camps as a result of torture and abuse.

Amnesty International has described the deaths as indicative of the government’s “callous disregard for the lives of people detained solely for their peaceful activities”.

Falun Gong, a meditative practice similar to Tai Chi, was banned in China in 1999 after adherents gathered outside the national appeals office in Zhongnanhai, Beijing, to protest against the arrest of 50 practitioners in Tianjin. Although peaceful, the demonstration was reported to have caused consternation among Communist Party chiefs, who feared an uprising similar in scope to the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, visited China in 2005 and documented cases of abuse of Falun Gong practitioners, as well as Tibetans and democracy activists. “The repression of Falun Gong is a fact, and incidences of torture remain widespread,” Nowak said in a telephone interview with the Khaleej Times on Wednesday.

She was forced to sit for 20 hours a day on a hard plastic stool without moving. She said that she was beaten even if she so much as scratched her head without asking permission. She can remember vividly the moment when her spirit finally broke. “I was lying on a bed and writhing around in agony,” she said. “I was at the point of total collapse. I was almost mad with pain.”

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