Lin Shenli was sentenced to 18 months of “reeducation through labor” in a Chinese prison camp on January 23, 2000 for taking part in illegal Falun Gong activities. He was released in January 2002, after two years in the labor camp. Unknown numbers of people have been held as slave laborers in China’s “Laogai” (labor reform camps). Created by the Chinese Communist Party under Mao Zedong, the Laogoi system was intended to “reeducate criminals” and has long used prisoners as a source of cheap labor. Labor and pro-democracy activists have been targeted for Laogai imprisonment.
My name is Lin Shenli and my nationality is Chinese. I was born in Shanghai on November 16, 1954. I am currently residing in Toronto, Canada.
I started to practice Falun Gong in 1996. On July 21, 1999, under Jiang Zemin's insane persecution of Falun Gong, I was kidnapped by the police, who locked me up in a police station for two months. This was just so that I could be brainwashed into giving up Falun Gong. On December 24 the same year, I went to Beijing to appeal for Falun Gong. I was again arrested and sent back to Shanghai Pingliang Police Station. I was locked up for 48 hours, and then I was detained for a further 15 days because I had refused to give up my belief in “Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance”. On January 24, 2000, because I called on the government to have a peaceful dialogue with Falun Gong practitioners, I was sentenced to one and a half years in a labor camp. I was sent to The No. 3 Labor Camp and was assigned to the 1st Section of the 2nd Division. The address is PO Box 1/902, Shichahe, Dafeng, Jiangsu.
In the labor camp, every morning I was forced to get up to start work around 6:00 am. I was not allowed to stop until 9:00 pm. The work was manual labor, making rubber sports balls. It involved using iron needles to punch holes and then using threads to stitch through the holes and the two threads had to be pulled and tightened at the end of the process. After long periods of the same repeated tasks, my hands got mutilated by the threads and started to bleed. The threads were waxed and prisoners informed me that wax is poisonous. That explained why both of my hands were swollen and infected. Due to long hours of intensive labor work, a large area of my chest and buttocks began to bleed and ulcerate. Especially, in the ulcerated buttock area, blood seeped onto my underwear and tracksuit pants. Every day my clothes were like they had been soaked in blood and water. As the blood dried up on my underwear and then became wet again, several times a day, the underwear would eventually get stuck onto my skin. This made walking very difficult, including taking off my underwear when going to the toilet. Every time when I had to force it off, a layer of my skin would be peeled off as well.
At night, I couldn't sleep properly because I couldn't lie down. Coupled with the long hours of hard intensive labor work, I was exhausted. If I did fall asleep at night, it was restless as, if I accidentally touched the sore parts of my body, I would be woken up by the most excruciating pain. Even though I was in this condition, I was not allowed to rest. I was still forced to work intensively. Through forced labor, the cost of the production of goods in China was kept very low. It didn't matter whether we were Falun Gong practitioners or criminals, we didn't get paid for our work. A variety of rubber sports balls were made, including Adidas and some Japanese brands. Some were made for souvenirs and exported, as I was informed by prisoners while they were teaching me how to make the balls. They were not only exploiting prisoners to earn foreign exchange currency, but they also wanted me to give up my belief in “Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance.” When I refused, they extended my term for a further six months. Hence I was detained in labor camp for a total of two years.
Narrative as told the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong, November 2003, Boston.