Break Leg to Avoid Slave Labor | Prisoner of Conscience in Xinjiang
Simone Gao: Hello, everyone. Welcome to Zooming In China, I'm Simone Gao. Today I invited a friend of mine, Charles Yu, to our program. Charles has a legendary life story. He graduated from one of the top universities in China, but ended up in China's prison for almost 10 years because of a mind and body exercise he practices. Today, he will tell us how some of the famous food snacks were produced in China's prison and what the inmates in Xinjiang were doing in order to escape the slave labor. Thank you Charles, for joining Zooming In China. First of all, can you introduce yourself to our audience a little bit?
Chao Yu: Yeah. Thank you for having me Simone. My name is Chao Yu. I was born and raised in China and I graduated from the most prestigious university in China, Qin Hua university. I am a Falun Gong practitioner, and in 1999, China's Communist Party regime began stamping down Falung meditation method. So I helped Western journalists to interview people persecuted by Chinese Communist Party because of their beliefs. And I was put into prison for nearly 10 years. In 2013, I came to the United States for seeking asylum.
Simone Gao: It's great that you and your family are in the United States right now.I know when you were in China's prison, you did slave labor. Tell me what you made and how you guys make those products.
Chao Yu: We have done a lot of slave labor. Just for an example, we were, we were forced to wrap the candy paper to candy, the prison got a job from a candy company. And they force us to wrap the candy paper to the candy. You think this job is very lightweight, but it is not because you need to press the paper, press a candy tens of thousands of times. And gradually your nail will be blackened and peeled off from the nail bed. It is very, very painful. It is very painful. You just cannot sleep and when your hands touch the water, your hands will just as bite by some bee or by some wasp.
Chao Yu: So, I have observed many peoples nails peel off from their nail bed. And because the quota of everybody is very, very heavy, so people have to work for morning to the night just in our prison cell. So, the prison cell is very dirty, you know? And the prisoners, because of this painful experience, they hate the prison guards. They hate the candy company. They hate, and users, consumers of the candy. So they put their bodies secretions, their bodies, fluids even their own semen on the candy and wrap them to the candy.
Simone Gao: Do you still remember the name of the brand?
Chao Yu: Yes, Laobute, the brand is Laobute, I still remember it. And I can even give you the URL of this company.
Simone Gao: Okay. So, do you think the candy company knew that this is happening? This is happening to their product?
Chao Yu: Of course they knew, of course they knew. When they hire the prison to do this kind of job, they knew everything, just as Western company such as coffee company or gift company hire chinese prisons to outsource their products to China. And they knew this kind of job will be done by prisoners. You know?
Simone Gao: So when the prisoners were like wiping their body fluids onto the candies were the prison prison guard around? I mean, did they see what the prisoners are doing? And did they intervene?
Chao Yu: We have two CATVs in one cell. In one cell there are two CATVs. We are under close surveillance. Of course the guards know, but the guards don't care. What they care is that we don't eat the candy. They just prevent us from eating the candy. They don't care if the candys, are clean or dirty.
Simone Gao: Okay. That's absolutely just imaginable. How many hours did you work?
Chao Yu: It depends on the quota, it depends on the job. If they get a job of huge amount of candy to wrap, we have to work for a very long time. If the job was not so much, they will arrange us to do other job, agricultural job, to plant some for example, leek in the field, or plant some soybean in the field, or plant some corn in the fields.
Simone Gao: Okay. Did you ever paid by the prison for the jobs you do?
Chao Yu: Nominally, we were paid. You know, every prisoner has some financial fund distributed by the prison administration. For example, one hundred renminbi yuan, we were supposed to be given 100 renminbi yuan per person, right? And the prison collect all of this money and they force us to do those agricultural job, right? And we plant corn, we plant eggplants. We plant soybean, we plant leek, and they use our money to buy the agricultural products from the fields as our food, you know? So it's just like a kind of money laundry, money laundry in prison. They use our money, distributed by the prison administration, and buy the food from the field and feed the food to us, and they keep the money. And they buy this food with very high price, much higher than the market, you know?
Simone Gao: This is absolutely incredible. I know you know, a person from your prison cell who told you about what happened in Xinjiang's prison. Tell me about that.
Chao Yu: Xinjiang prison is some sort of hell-like existence to our Beijing prisoners. For those outlaws those criminals, those dissidents, like me, who made so many troubles to the Chinese Communist Party they will send these kind of troublesome people to Xinjiang prison. As a Beijing prisoner, you will be treated better, much better in Beijing prison then in Xinjiang prison, because your family member, your relationship can reach you in Beijing prison. So, the guy who have been sent to Xinjiang prison at least once, I spent several years with him in the prison I was in. He told me some stories in Xinjiang prison, and in Xinjiang prison people were forced to do very heavy labor. And some guys try to avoid these kind of labor, they just smash their leg broken, by using rocks, to avoid those so cruel labor, you know. And you have to do it, and you were injured in the working or faking illness will be severely punished in prison. So you can imagine how cruel the labor is and when you catch some infectious disease and you are in hospital, those guys in your friends circle will request you through different relationship to you because, you know, people are isolated from one-to-one in prison. People cannot talk with each other in some circumstance in prison. So people need to use their very close relationship to reach you and ask you for your urine to gather same infectious disease. For example, you caught the hepatitis, just for an example, and you just in a half-life and lying in the bed of hospital, and your friend will ask you: "Please give me some of your urine". And you cannot just pass your urine over him, because everything you pass to another guy, for example, your lunchbox or your cup, normally in very hard conditions, you don't have have cup, you only have a lunchbox. You cannot put your urine in the lunchbox and pass it to your friend, you have to soak your urine into a towel and pack the towel in a lunchbox and pass it to your friend. Because experienced prison guards will inspect everything you pass another guy. So, from one by one, your towel soaked with your precious, highly infectious urine being passed to the hands of your friend. You know, only the best buddy of yours can get your urine, because the one who wants the urine and the one who give the urine will all punished severely once this kind of deed is exposed to the prison. Because you're trying to avoid the labor, and you will have very bad example to other prisoners, you know? So, you know, in Xingjiang, it in the west of China, normally it is very cold, especially in winter. And in the freezing winter, your friend, get the towel soaked with your urine freezing, freezing cold, like an ice block. And he just chewing and suck and swallow anything he can get by his teeth and leaves squeezing from the towel, and hoping get the same disease, you know? That it's the situation in Xingjiang prison. That's just one story. Yeah.
Simone Gao: This is unimaginable. Did that person tell you those people passing urines, were they Chinese, were they Uirghers, were they Han people? What ethnic group do they belong to?
Chao Yu: I think they are Han people, but I don't think it matters if they are Han people or Uighur people, or any ethnic group, because when you are the prisoner, you are in such kind of condition you can be hurt. So, they are Han people.
Simone Gao: I don't know if you know the answer to this question, but do you know how widespread is this kind of practice by the prisoners in Xinjiang?
Chao Yu: I think not only in Xinjiang, but in whole China is an institutional practice. Of course there will be differences between extent, but, you know, since Chinese Communist Party took power in China, since 1949, in several decades of years, they just gave the prison guards very, very small amount of money which cannot maintain their life. What they give the prisoner prison guards is the power to torture those prisoners. So the slave labor are the main income of the prison institution, including the staff in the institution those prison guards are human being too. They have family to raise, they have children to feed. They need to buy, for example, an earring or necklace or a colorful cloth for their wives, right? How can they, how can they afford this stuff? They have to squeeze those prisoners and force them to do the slave labor. "So I think that is an institutional practice all over China."
Simone Gao: Right. And I know when you were in the Beijing prison, you were tortured, right? Tell me what they did to you.
Chao Yu: They handcuffed me on a wooden board, two handcuff on my two hands, and use rope by my two legs on a wooden board. When I had to go to the bathroom they, in the first several days, I was forced to urine in my pants. And after that day, they gave me this big container, and with one hand handcuffed in the board. I have all of those things under close surveillance. It is kind of, it's a harassment, in fact, deliberate harassment. It's a deliberate harassment. And I use these container to take, take the waste out tell from my body and do all of those things with one hand. And were handcuffed on the board, wooden board again. And I was de deprived sleep. And I was, they use very huge amount of volume of music to broadcast music just this far from my ear, from the morning, I guess six o'clock to the 10:00 PM, 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM, keep using noise to bomb me, just like bomb, you know? Bomb my ear. A lot of these kinds of things. Yes.
Simone Gao: Is your hearing damaged?
Chao Yu: My hearing, yes, maybe because of deprived, to my own experience, deprivation of sleep damaged my ear, I don't know why. After long deprivation of sleep my ear, just.
Simone Gao: Okay. How many days have they, how many days did they handcuff you to the wooden board?
Chao Yu: Nearly 100 days. And they deprived my sleep for nearly three months. Every day I can only sleep one to two hours I guess. They asked me to sign, sign some commitment to convert from my belief. Finally, I cannot resist. I have to sign. So it hurts me internally.
Simone Gao: Yeah. You're forced to give up your belief.
Chao Yu: Yeah.
Simone Gao: Are you forced to slender it, right?
Chao Yu: Yeah.
Simone Gao: Okay. Tell me about your life right now. You're in the states, when did you come and what is your life right now look like?
Chao Yu: I and my family came to the United States in 2013, and I found a job here and we were granted asylee status by the United States government. And about one week ago me and my wife passed neutralization exam. So in the very near future we will become citizens of the United States.
Simone Gao: Congratulations Chao.
Chao Yu: Thank you. And it means a lot to us. And my son is now in the basic combat training camp of US army in South Carolina Fort Jackson, and in the meanwhile he got an admission offer from Whiting School of Johns Hopkins University, major in data science master degree. He graduated from his university six months in advance. And I always telling him that the United States accept us, protect us. So it is our duty and our honour to defend the United States of America. So I encouraged him to use these six months to serve a military. So he is enlisted in US army.
Simone Gao: Okay. All right. Thank you so much Chao. And I'm so glad that you and your family are in the states and you are safe and free. And congratulations to your son. Thank you so much.
Chao Yu: Thank you.
Simone Gao: This concludes our program for today. Please like, share and subscribe to my channel. And mostly importantly, please sign up for my membership website Zoomingin.tv. You will have access to all video, audio formats of my show and all transcripts from now on. We will also have full length in-depth reports, extra interview clips, and behind the scene clips for our members. I will also do a monthly Q and A on the membership website. The site was just up yesterday and has my full length exclusive interview with a Republican national committee man, Solomon Yue, who supposedly has the information about the Chinese defector vice minister of national security of China daunting way. So please check it out. Thanks for watching, I'm Simone Gao, and I'll see you next time.