Escaping China's Labor Camps
Address by Jennifer Zeng, Author of Witnessing History
Human Rights Torch Relay, PUBLIC LIBRARY, Tel Aviv
February 18, 2008
Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak.
Some 60 years ago, shocked by what had happened to millions of Jews in the Nazi concentration camps, the world vowed "Never again." Unfortunately, similar crimes against humanity have been happening again now for over eight years in China—and are still happening today. Crimes, not only similar, but with a new twist of evil not seen before throughout recorded history, which is the killing of people en masse for their vital organs.
For any sensible human being, this sounds unbelievable. But I know it is true, as I myself am a survivor. In order to get out of a party-state concentration camp and to tell the world what was happening there, I have experienced something worse than death.
I was sent to the Female Forced-Labor Camp in Beijing in 2001 for practicing Falun Gong. The police made it clear that the only purpose for being sent there was to be "reformed," which meant to force us to give up our beliefs. In order to achieve this, the police stopped at nothing.
We were not allowed to sleep for as long as 15 days and 15 nights, sometimes even one month. We were shocked with electric batons, beaten up, sexually abused, and forced to work under appalling conditions for 16 and even 20 hours a day. We were put under severe and endless mental pressure to betray our own belief in Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance [the core principles of Falun Gong].
I saw people driven into insanity one by one; I knew cases of death. This so-called reform, in reality, deprived people of the very essence of being human: sanity, a free will, dignity, and an awareness of who you are. After being reformed, human beings were reduced to being living corpses.
Having witnessed all sorts of unimaginable crimes for months, I suddenly developed a very strong impulse to write a book to expose it all. When I made the decision to give a statement pretending to give up my beliefs—so that I could gain freedom to write a book—I didn''t know that the cost would be so dear.
I was forced to write thought reports and essays as long as 18 pages slandering my cherished beliefs. I was forced to read out a slanderous article with a calm face in front of cameras and hundreds of inmates in the camp. I was even forced to help the police torture the newcomers in order to make them reform. I''m too ashamed to go into more details. There were many times when I wondered why I had not gone mad or died.
Yet, among all these inhuman crimes, would you believe that camp officials pretended to care about our health so much that they gave us very thorough physical periodic check-ups, including X-rays and blood tests! While in the labor camp, I never had the heart or ability to think why they did this, until, with a chilling realization, I later learned that blood tests and a database of blood and tissue types were necessary to set up a large, live-organ bank.
For those who don''t know what the day-to-day life is like behind the walls of 21st century Nazi-like camps, I invite you to read my book "Witnessing History—One Woman''s Fight for Freedom and Falun Gong." It is a first-hand account of my life, written with a lot of tears.
It is about what is happening in a place about 12.5 miles from Tiananmen Square, or about 19 miles from the main Olympics facility in Beijing. Even before you finish it, you will draw your own conclusion as to whether humankind and the Olympics movement will benefit from an Olympiad hosted by a Hitler-type regime.
This article is an address given by Jennifer Zeng, author of "Witnessing History," at the Human Rights Torch Relay in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Feb. 18.
The global Human Rights Torch Relay is an international campaign that seeks to bring an end to all human rights abuses against people in China, while highlighting the persecution of Falun Gong—the most severely persecuted group in China today. During the run up to the 2008 Olympics, the HRTR will host events in 37 countries across 5 continents to present its message: The Olympics and crimes against humanity cannot coexist in China.