Smuggled Letter Reveals Christians Remain Imprisoned in Northeastern China Labor Camp

ICC Note: In an extra-ordinary act of bravery a prisoner of the Masanjia Labor Camp on Northeast China smuggled a letter asking for help and describing conditions in the camp into Halloween products that were subsequently exported to the U.S. where the letter was discovered last year. The author of the letter revealed that about half of the prisoners were either members of the Falun Gong movement or Christians from underground churches. This information corroborates accounts received from ICC that despite an decrease in the amount of prominent, violent incidents of persecution in China over the past several years Christians in more rural areas continue to be detained and sentenced to Re-education through Labor for refusing to attend the government controlled Three-Self Church. 

6/14/2013 China (Assist News) – One of the frustrations of my work at VOM is the seeming indifference of the secular media to the suffering of our Christian brothers and sisters around the world. Yes, there are times when a story of persecution breaks through into our national conversation—Youcef Nadarkhani in Iran, or the attack on Dogo Nahawa in Nigeria—but for the most part Christian persecution is not a story we see on the evening news or read even in the fine-print sections of the newspaper.

Partly because of this frustration, I read with great interest the story in the New York Times this week about a letter smuggled out of the Masanjia labor camp in China that revealed the terrible conditions of the prisoners. The story of the letter is fascinating in itself—it was smuggled out of the country tucked inside a package of mock tombstones that were sold by a K-Mart in Oregon as Halloween decorations.

But the words that caught my eye weren’t about the letter; they were about the camp the letter was written from: “According to former inmates, roughly half of Masanjia’s population is made up of Falun Gong practitioners or members of underground churches …”

The story then details some of the things prisoners endure, besides long days of labor creating goods for export to the West. One woman talked about being dragged around by her hair, or being shocked with electric batons until her nostrils filled with the odor of burning flesh. Others spoke of having their four limbs tied to four beds, which were then kicked farther and farther apart by the guards. “That place is a living hell,” said Liu Hua, a 51-year-old former prisoner at the camp.

China’s people can be sent into that living hell for up to four years without even having a trial. The article suggests that when more “workers” are needed, local police will find reasons to arrest people because the labor camp will pay them for prisoners.

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