The difficulty of smuggling a slip of paper from a Chinese labour camp
By Guo Jufeng01/04/2013
Editor’s note: Guo Jufeng, the author, was an engineer in Dalian City, Liaoning Province, who fled to Germany in 2008 after being persecuted for his practice of Falun Gong. Before leaving China, he had been arrested four times, sent to three labour camps, and persecuted using over 30 different methods of mental and physical torture. Twelve Falun Gong practitioners he personally knew died from torture: seven of those were from Dalian; five had children under the age of 18.
Last week, I was amazed to read the news about a plea for help hidden in a box of Halloween decorations exported from China to the United States. I was once in exactly the same situation as the person who wrote that message!
Five friends and I successfully hid and passed on a letter exposing the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China to the overseas website Minghui, or Clearwisdom, which is dedicated to exposing the Chinese regime’s persecution of Falun Gong to the rest of the world.
Like the person whose plea made headlines around the world, I was also in Liaoning Province, China. Twelve years ago, I was imprisoned in Huludao City Forced Labour Camp, Liaoning, for 2.5 years for practising the meditation discipline of Falun Gong. My companion Cao Yuqiang, who was eventually tortured to death, and I were watched 24 hours a day by two criminals, so that we could not exchange information regarding the persecution of Falun Gong.
One day, I came up with the bold idea to find a way to communicate information about the persecution to the outside world.
The first obstacle we faced was that we didn’t have pen or paper. So, as more and more information was passed on to me, it became quite a challenge to memorise everything! To improve my memory, I repeated the information to myself every day, since I couldn’t communicate regularly with Cao Yuqiang.
One day, out of the blue, Cao told me he had found a refill for a ball-point pen. I suspected he must have gone through a great deal of trouble to procure it, but I did not have the opportunity to ask him for any details at that time.
Now I had a pen, but there was still the question of what to write on. I finally realised that the only possibility was toilet paper, and to avoid being caught, I would have to write the message after midnight.
I had to keep strengthening my mind to overcome fear and anxiety as any negative thoughts could lead me to give up. Questions and doubts plagued my mind: “Would this work? How could we get the information out? Would I be able to withstand the torture if it was discovered? Had other prisoners found out about my plan? Were they waiting to catch me in the act?” I was certain that if my plan were discovered, I would be tortured mercilessly with electric batons.
It was really quiet after midnight. While laying in bed, I slowly pulled out the pen refill and toilet paper. When the prisoner on duty to watch me turned away, I began to make tiny adjustments to my position, creating the smallest possible space underneath my quilt. Whenever the prisoner on duty turned towards me, I had to immediately stop and be still, for I would need time to deal with any unexpected action on his part. If my mission were somehow compromised, I would have to swallow my written note immediately and secure the ball-point refill.
At last, this article to expose the persecution was complete; I had written 2,800 words.
I carefully carried it on me, but now I had to figure out how to get it to the outside world. A few days later, a prisoner asked me, “Can I help you somehow?” I was surprised and also suspicious, “Is he trying to fool me to hand over my article to the guards? Could I trust the words of a prisoner?” I thought for a few minutes and then I said “I have to go to the toilet.”
Walking down the long corridor, I kept on thinking “What should I do?” It was difficult to make a decision, but I had to make up my mind. In the toilet, I gathered up my courage. Then I looked at the prisoner, and said, “Could you give me your cigarette box?” He handed it over, I took out my letter, put it inside, and said to him: “Please send it out to the address inside. Please.”
Over the next few days, I was extremely nervous, for I did not know what had happened to the letter. I kept thinking, what should I do if the guards suddenly rush into my room with electric batons? This thought lurked in my mind, overwhelming me like the ocean, a very deep and quite suffocating feeling.
But heaven be praised, the letter safely made it into the hands of a friend, and he immediately sent it to the overseas Minghui website! With this detailed report about several Falun Gong practitioners being persecuted, the cause of justice was served. Looking back, I know that I was extremely blessed. If it hadn’t been for divine intervention, I suspect no one would have ever learned about the story – mine or the other Falun Gong practitioners’. Unfortunately, 4 of the 20 people in this story were later killed by the authorities in the persecution.
The only thing I can do now is to feel encouraged: in the face of great adversity, I had the courage and conscience to overcome evil. I also realised from this experience that I should never give up hope in any situation.