After making a documentary about the torture and ill-treatment experienced by people held inside the dreaded Masanjia Labor Camp, Chinese journalist Du Bin was himself detained by the authorities for 37 days.
Undeterred by his treatment for helping uncover such a dark truth, Du Bin has now produced a book that’s been published in Hong Kong about a man who managed to send out an SOS letter from that same camp.
That SOS letter managed to make its way to the US via a cheap Halloween product which was made under slave labor conditions inside the camp.
You may have already heard about this because it made headlines a few years ago when a woman, Julie Keith from Portland, found the letter inside the product’s packaging which described the camp’s conditions.
“I am sad for the people who have to endure torture to make these silly decorations,” Julie told CNN.
Here is a part of the letter that was written by a Falun Gong practitioner. Falun Gong practitioners make up a large percentage of those held inside this camp, which is located in China’s northeast.
Du Bin’s new book is called Masanjia Roaring, and it, again like his 2013 documentary film Ghosts’ Heads: The Women of Masanjia Labor Camp (see further below), aims squarely at exposing the atrocities that have occurred inside this camp.
When asked why he’s again risked getting into more trouble from the communist authorities, Du Bin said that although the persecution of the peaceful Falun Gong is the most sensitive issue in China, he could not allow his conscience to remain silent.
The SOS letter also has a personal connection.
Du Bin discovered the letter’s author was a friend of his — “Mr. Zhang.”
“When the author of the SOS letter met with me on Dec 28, 2012, and told me who he was, we both were shocked and stunned,” Du Bin said. “Why? Because it’s out of expectation, he is one of my friends!”
Masanjia Roaring explores why Zhang wrote the SOS letter and gives details of how he was tortured during his 29 months of illegal detention in the camp.
“The methods of torture [my friend endured] include ‘big hang-up,’ ‘stretched,’ ‘death bed,’ force-feeding, as well as mental torture. All the torture games were utilized,” Du Bin said.
Among all the forms of torture, Zhang told his friend that mental torture is one of the worst. The guards gave it the term “nerves removed” and once a person’s sensory nerves are removed, one will be like an animal, a robot, or a rubber person, without any consciousness.
“Firstly, I think as a person, I want to know how a human being can survive under such extreme circumstances and what was going through his mind,” Du Bin said.
“Secondly, we are neither animals nor beasts. How can there be such ways to treat others? I will never accept it,” he said.
Du Bin is also a former New York Times photojournalist. Included among his own work are Petitioners: Living Fossils Who Survived China’s Rule of Law (Ming Pao, 2007), Toothbrush (White Elephant, 2011), Ai God (Suyuan, 2012), Mao Zedong’s Regime of Human Flesh (Mingjing, 2013), and Vagina in Coma (2014).
His film Ghosts’ Heads: The Women of Masanjia Labor Camp is below. This was the film he was detained by authorities for making. One of the women featured in the film, Liu Hua, was later arrested for partaking in it.
Translated by Joseph from NTDTV.