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Masanjia Labor Camp

[Editor’s Note: On April 7, 2013, the Chinese magazine Lens published an exclusive investigation report describing in detail the various inhuman torture methods used to persecute the inmates at Masanjia Women’s Labor Camp. The article, titled “Getting Out of ‘Masanjia,'” is the first time that China’s own media revealed the torture used in the labor camp system. The article sent shock waves through Chinese society and was soon republished on a handful of major Chinese websites, including Sina, Sohu, Tengxun, and 163. The torture methods were so horrifying that they induced a number of people to make online comments. A YouTube video appeared called, “Masanjia, Hell in the Human World.”]

The infamous Masanjia is not an ordinary name. It is representative of the whole labor camp system (or reeducation through forced labor camps as the Chinese authorities call them) in China. Over the years, Falun Gong members have been persistently exposing the various barbaric torture methods that Masanjia has applied to crush them and force them to give up their belief. These methods are well documented in submissions to a number of human rights organizations throughout the world as well as to Special Rapporteurs of the United Nations Human Rights Commission. The article affirmed that what Falun Gong practitioners have described is true and that the same torture methods are commonly used to punish other groups that the Communist regime has deemed “troublesome.” Because of this, the name “Masanjia” is almost synonymous with “torture” in China’s forced labor camps and has become a politically sensitive word. Chinese Communist authorities have repeatedly invited international media to “visit” the Masanjia Forced Labor Camp in order to demonstrate that Masanjia is a warm “home” for those inmates detained there.

The article didn’t specifically mention Falun Gong, but the connection is obvious. Many who are familiar with China’s politics believe that the article sent a special signal: Some of the current top leaders do not want to carry the historic burden of the Falun Gong persecution which retired former CCP head Jiang Zemin initiated single-handedly. This highly sensitive issue, if widely disseminated could, inadvertently, shake the foundation of the CCP’s ruling status, particularly if news of the happenings there were amplified out of control. The CCP’s official mouth piece, Xinhua, has denied all report as “rumors” from the overseas Falun Gong media. The current article reports some of the unknown stories from Masanjia, the labor camp that has become a symbol of “torture.”

The History of Masanjia Labor Camp

Masanjia Forced Labor Camp (马三家劳动教养院) is located in Masanjia Town in the Yuhong District in Shenyang City, Liaoning Province. Masanjia Women’s Labor camp is part of the whole camp. It was established on March 9, 1956. The camp can process and imprison up to 7,000 inmates. Masanjia Labor Camp communicates with the outside world through its different enterprises. It has its own fishery ponds (called the Masan fishery village), a winery (the Dalong Wine Co., Ltd.), a clothing factory, and the Masan Machinery Factory. The inmates in custody constitute the main labor force in these companies. If one did not know the details, one would hardly recognize that these “enterprises” are part of the infamous forced labor camp. Actually, all the labor camps in China have the name of an enterprise as a cover. [1]

Originally, Masanjia had one male and one female forced labor camp as well as a juvenile reeducation camp. On October 29, 1999, because the persecution had escalated rather quickly, Masanjia set up a second female camp. Su Jing was named director of the camp. [2]

The original female labor camp was renamed the First Women’s Forced Labor Camp. In the persecution of Falun Gong, those who refuse to succumb to brainwashing are held in this camp along with other ordinary inmates. They are forced to do heavy labor and work long hours. Other female Falun Gong practitioners have been transferred to the Second Women’s Labor Camp to get an “education” (brainwashing). Those who are “transformed” [3] are also put in the Second Women’s Labor Camp. This part is “open” to central government and provincial inspection visits and research.

Because of the “excellent skills” and “outstanding achievements” of the Masanjia Second Women’s Labor Camp in “transforming” Falun Gong practitioners, Wang Maolin and Dong Jufa, the heads of the central “610 Office” (an organization established on June 10, 1999, and dedicated to the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners), visited the camp in early July 2000 and affirmed its “accomplishments.”

They made a detailed report of the inspection for Jiang Zemin. Liu Jing, the other leader of the central 610 Office, also made several trips to Masanjia and directed the persecution of Falun Gong on site. He then prompted Jiang Zemin to give six million yuan in special funds to the camp and ordered the “Masanjia Thought Education & Transformation Base” to be built, which was how the new building of the Second Women’s Labor Camp came into being.

On February 6, 2001, Masanjia’s Second Women’s Labor Camp was renamed the “Liaoning Province Thought Education School.” [4] Su Jing was assigned the job of principal. [5] People still customarily use its original name, the Second Women’s Labor Camp. In late November 2001, all female Falun Gong practitioners were relocated to the newly constructed building in the Second Women’s Labor Camp. It has since become a base for the thought (ideological) education and persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. In October 2006, the First Women’s Labor Camps was merged with the Second Women’s Labor Camp and renamed the “Masanjia Women’s Labor Camp.” All detainees were moved to the location of the original Second Women’s Labor Camp, namely, the “Liaoning Province Thought Education School.” [6]

Male Falun Gong practitioners were also detained at Masanjia. From November 19, 1999, when the camp received the first male Falun Gong practitioners, until early August 2000, Masanjia detained 34 male Falun Gong practitioners.On February 18, 2000, five male practitioners were transferred to the 6th brigade of the camp to be brainwashed. [7]

Starting on September 29, 2008, the third brigade of Masanjia’s First Labor Camp detained the male Falun Gong practitioners who had been transferred from other labor camps in Liaoning Province, along with Falun Gong practitioners who had been arrested in Beijing, so that they could be “transformed.” The 3rd brigade of the Masanjia First Labor Camp became the “specialized brigade” for the “special” handling of Falun Gong practitioners [7] [8].

The CCP Massively Expanded Masanjia for the Persecution of Falun Gong

Prior to 1999, Masanjia ran a deficit year after year and couldn’t even afford its electric bill. After the CCP started the persecution of Falun Gong, the camp became the frontrunner in the persecution. The CCP gave the camp huge financial infusions.

To build the “Thought (Ideological) Education & Transformation Base,” the CCP allocated six million yuan (US$980,000) in special funding to expand the camp’s capacity. The project eventually cost as much as 10 million yuan (US$1.63 million). Liaoning Province made up the difference.

In October 1999, when the Masanjia Second Women’s Labor Camp was started, the camp had fewer than 10 police officers, including the guards. After that, it expanded rapidly. By the end of 2001, the number of police officers had grown to well over 100. [9] To commend Masanjia for its “achievements” in the execution of the CCP’s persecution policy, the Ministry of Justice gave one million yuan (US$160,000) to the camp for further “improvements.” The Justice Department awarded Su Jing, the director of the Second Female Camp, 50,000 yuan (US$8,160) and named her “a 2nd class hero.” Shao Li, the deputy director, was awarded 30,000 yuan (US$4,890). The supervisors of all the brigades also received financial rewards and all the police were given the “honor” of being named “collective 2nd class heroes.” [10]

According to China’s state media, when Bo Xilai worked as the governor of Liaoning Province, he spent one billion yuan (US$160,000 million) on prison development in the province. More than 500 million yuan (US$82,530,000) went to Masanjia alone. At that time, the camp covered over 2,000 acres. The state media touted that Shenyang (where Masanjia is located) was the first city in the country to develop a “modern” jail. It has all necessary facilities, including supermarkets and banks. Part of the camp is open to the public. [11, 12, 13]

In 2004, a former senior Justice Department official in Liaoning Province stated in a meeting at Masanjia, “Financial expenditures in handling Falun Gong have exceeded what it would cost to fund a war.” [14, 15]

Masanjia Is a Model Labor Camp and Center for “Transformation”

Although Masanjia Forced Labor Camp is nominally subordinate to Liaoning Province, it is not an ordinary labor camp. Since the Second Women’s Labor Camp was set up, it has been considered a pilot project and a model on how to persecute and “transform” Falun Gong practitioners. Li Lanqing, the former head of the “CCP Central Leadership Team for Handling Falun Gong Issues;” Luo Gan, the former Secretary of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Committee; Wang Maolin, the former director of the CCP Central 610 Office; Liu Jing, the former director of the CCP Central 610 Office after Wang Maolin; the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee; and the Ministry of Justice were all directly involved in directing, supporting, and promoting the persecution of Falun Gong in Masanjia Forced Labor Camp.

Brainwashing and “transformation” are at the core of the persecution of Falun Gong. In order to force Falun Gong practitioners to give up their belief, and in order to reach a high “transformation rate,” all sorts of torture methods have been designed, implemented, and promoted.

On August 29, 2000, the Ministry of Justice held a conference on using forced labor to “transform” Falun Gong practitioners. Li Lanqing sent a personal letter [16], while Luo Gan and Wang Maolin gave speeches praising Masanjia’s successes [17, 18]. He especially praised the “five transformation criteria” that Masanjia had developed and which subsequently became the nationwide standard for “transformation.” [18]

On September 22, 2000, the central 610 Office issued “Implementation Directives on Transforming Steadfast Falun Gong Practitioners.” The transformation criteria in the directive originated from the Masanjia experience. [19]

According to a secret document issued by the Central 610 Office and the Ministry of Justice, by November 2000, Masanjia Forced Labor Camp had hosted visit-and-study tours for more than 500 people from 31 groups in 25 provinces and cities. [20] Han Guangsheng, former head of Shenyang City Justice Bureau, confirmed that local officials had been routinely organized to visit Masanjia Forced Labor Camp to learn how to use torture to “transform” Falun Gong practitioners. [21]

In a work review of the Chinese Judicial Administrative System in 2000, it stated that the judicial administration system played a vital role in the struggle against Flung Gong and that a number of “highly accomplished” organizations and individuals stood out in “transforming” Falun Gong practitioners. One such organization was Masanjia Forced Labor Camp and its head, Su Jing. “The Ministry of Justice Party Committee timely summarized their experiences and promoted them throughout the country.” [22]

On February 26, 2001, the Central Organization Department, the Ministry of Propaganda, the Central Political and Legal Affairs Committee, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the Ministry of Personnel, and the Central 610 Office held a joint conference in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing at which they commended the cadres’ remarkable performances in the struggle against Falun Gong. Su Jing, the head of Second Women’s Labor Camp of Masanjia, gave a presentation on how to “transform” Falun Gong practitioners. [23]

On April 25, 2001, the Organization Department of the CCP Central Committee issued a notice requiring all Party committees nationwide to learn from the experiences that Masanjia had in the struggle against Falun Gong. [24]

Central and Local Communist Party Authorities Commended Masanjia Forced Labor Camp for Its “Transformation” Work

Seven central state ministries, committees, and offices, including the Organization Department of the Central Committee, granted Masanjia the title of “National Advanced Unit in the Struggle against Falun Gong.” The Ministry of Justice also issued a first-class merit to Masanjia. [25]

The commendations that Masanjia’s Second Women’s Labor Camp (Liaoning Province Thought Transformation through Education School) has received include: “Female Civilization Model Post of Shenyang City,” “National Advanced Unit against Falun Gong,” “Provincial Advanced Unit against Falun Gong,” provincial “Excellent Female Red Flag Collective,” “Advanced Education and Transformation Collective in the National Judicial Administration System,” and the Justice Bureau of Liaoning Province’s second-class merit collective.

The head of Masanjia Second Women’s Labor Camp, Su Jing, was awarded the following titles: “Outstanding Education [transformation] Expert” from the Ministry of Justice (second-class model hero), “Excellent Female Red Flag Worker” of Shengyang City,” [26] “Satisfactory Police Officer by the People in the Politics and Law System of Liaoning Province,” as well as a 2003 “Excellent Government Employee” of Liaoning Province. [27]

On December 19, 2011, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and the Ministry of Justice commended the advanced collectives and individuals within the national judicial administration system. The Director of the Administrative Institute of Masanjia Labor Camp, Ren Wenfu, was awarded “advanced individual” within the national judicial administration system. [28]

During the seventh Police Ranking Promotion Training Session of 2011 organized by Liaoning provincial judicial administration system, Masanjia Labor Camp was named “Advanced Collective.” Policemen Jin Shan and Wang Xue from Masanjia were named “Outstanding Trainees” [29]. Both had tortured Falun Gong practitioners in the camp. [30]

During the second Police Ranking Promotion Training Session of 2012 organized by the Liaoning provincial judicial administration system, Masanjia Labor Camp was named “Advanced Collective.” Gao Hongchang, captain of third Brigade of the first Division of Masanjia Labor Camp, was named “Outstanding Trainee.” [31] He was later promoted to director of the first Division of Masanjia Labor Camp. The third brigade is specifically dedicated to the persecution of male Falun Gong practitioners. Gao was commended for his “excellent work” in the struggle against Falun Gong and was directly involved in the torture of Falun Gong practitioners. [32]

Personal Accounts of Torture

Because Masanjia Forced Labor Camp is a nationwide “model” in China for the use of torture in “transforming” Falun Gong practitioners, a few examples may suffice to understand the effects of the process.

Example one:

The 2010 United Nations Report submitted to Manfred Nowak, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, included the following description in his 2010 Report:

“On 2 September 2008, Mr. Yu’s term was extended for another year. He was sent back to Masanjia Forced Labor Camp in October, and has been held in solitary confinement since then. At the camp, Mr. Yu was forced to sign a suicide letter before he was beaten, including on his head with a steel baton, hung and shocked with electric batons. As a result, he bled severely and lost consciousness for more than a week. Repeated requests by his family to visit him have been denied.” [33]

Example two:

On June 4, 2002, without any legal recourse, cause, or documentation, Ms. Wang was taken to Masanjia Forced Labor Camp. [34]

During the day, more than four collaborators participated in the torture of Falun Gong practitioners. They interrogated Ms. Wang and tried to force her to give up practicing Falun Gong. They made her squat, remain in a kneeling position, or stand still for a very long time. Typical torture methods included hanging her up by her hands, which were handcuffed behind her back, or forcing her to stand still or squat for a long time. Another time, two guards from Benxi, holding electric batons, shouted, “We will see who is tougher!” The two men tore Ms. Wang’s shirt open and shocked her breasts with two electric batons for 30 minutes. Afterwards, they made her stand still for the entire night. Her breasts were disfigured and became infected. Finally, Ms. Wang gained her release. Later her family found out that the Masanjia camp staff believed that she had only two months to live.

Example three:

Jana Bin Li, who now lives in the United States, is one of many Falun Gong practitioners available to discuss the effects of torture.

In September 1999 in China, Falun Gong practitioners held a historic press conference to disclose the persecution. Jana picked up the journalists from Reuters. One of the principal organizers, Ding Yan, told the journalists how she had been tortured. Afterwards, the Party arrested Ding Yan and sentenced her to three years in prison where she was tortured ruthlessly. At Chengde City Prison, they stripped her naked and put her in a “water jail,” an iron cage with spikes on all sides. They left her soaking in dirty water up to her neck for months until she finally died in September 2001.

Jana was persecuted for several years in different labor camps and prisons. One day she was led to a small room. “I will never forget the feeling that day. Because I refused to write all those things they ordered me to write, two policewomen shocked me with electric batons more than 70 cm long. They ordered me to squat and put both my hands behind my head. Then they began to shock me on my hair, my neck, my head, my arms, and my back. I could smell the scorched hair and clearly heard the sound of the electric baton scorching my flesh. I couldn’t bear the pain and fell to the ground screaming. “The brainwashing was constant, the lectures were constant, the cursing, the insults, the torture, the sleep deprivation, and the abuse were constant.”

“One day I couldn’t help thinking of my family and my mom. They were hurting so badly just because … of my existence. What could I get if I insisted on my beliefs like this? Only endless pain. I finally succumbed to an overwhelming feeling of despair because of the CCP’s constant onslaught. I felt guilty about my belief, my Teacher, my parents, and everyone. I even felt guilty about the police who tortured me with electric batons. They felt such pain while they were torturing me. At that time I couldn’t even sense that this guilty feeling was actually insane. I decided that I could stick to my belief in my mind but renounce it publicly. In the following 15 days, I burst into tears often for no reason. Later I realized that it was the worst decision I ever made in my life. My spirit died and I lost my conscience. I did not know who I was. I was someone else – an automaton created by the CCP. I was totally destroyed. Not only did my decision not stop the CCP from persecuting Falun Gong practitioners; it made the CCP unconscious of its guilt, thus promoting its rampant persecution. This later made me feel even more guilty. I even felt I was not qualified to exist as a human being.”

Once she was “transformed,” Jana became just like her persecutors: “We were ordered to convert all those practitioners that the police sent there. We ‘transformed’ them from determined Falun Gong practitioners into tools of the CCP to persecute Faun Gong. When I recall all those days, it is like remembering a nightmare. It was so terrible.”

Jana Bin Li was eventually released and, after a period of time, allowed to obtain a visa. She came to the United States on July 18, 2004. Today she lives in Los Angeles, California, where she now freely practices Falun Gong.

Jana told her story in the recently released movie, Red Reign, [35] a film that Masha Savitz produced about China’s practice of live organ harvesting.

Example four:

Chen Gang told a similar story about his “transformation:” “Forcing practitioners to choose between their physical death and mental demise.” He was tortured with electric batons and by being tied up in an intolerable position. It finally got to him. “When I could not endure the extreme pain any longer, I collapsed mentally and gave in against my will. … Tears streamed down my face. I thought even hell could not be worse! What hurt most, however, was from inside. Since the persecution began, I had lost my excellent job, and my loving family had been torn apart. I was sent to the labor camp and deprived of all dignity and rights. I was suppressed and insulted and lived a painful life worse than that of a slave. Even in such misery, the police still would not leave me alone and kept up the torture until they destroyed every bit of my dignity, my innocence, and my belief. They forced me to become someone I despised, they sullied my character and soul, and they trampled my hope for grace and wisdom. They forced me into a state of regret, shame, and self-disappointment. They were like devils that tortured and taunted me: ‘You deserve to live in hell! With no hope of ever getting out!’”

Chen Gang also escaped to freedom and returned to the practice of Falun Gong. He tells his story in the book, Stories of Conscience. [36]

What effect does it have on society as a whole when, as in a “model” labor camp such as Masanjia, the government entices its citizens with rewards for committing atrocities, when it commends the perpetrators for their excellent work and when it asks those throughout China to emulate this excellence?

While the forced labor camps play their part, the Atlantic quoted Yu Minhong, the founder and CEO of New Oriental Education and Technology Group, who recently posted a statement on the Chinese Internet on the violence now occurring in China. As of the date of the article’s publication, it has been forwarded 163,000 times: “Chinese society is full of atrocities. We can’t simply conclude that it was the villains that perpetrated these things. They must be punished, but we also need to find the roots of the evil. When justice is unobtainable, when the normal channels to resolve problems do not exist, when officials protect each other and ordinary citizens do not have the same opportunities, when dignity is taken away and trampled, society will turn good guys into bad guys.” [37]

The Chinese Government Conceals Its Persecution of Falun Gong Practitioners

The use of torture in the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners incarcerated in Masanjia has been reported on repeatedly in the international media. One event that occurred in October 2000 received special attention. Eighteen female Falun Gong practitioners were stripped naked and thrown into a cell of male prisoners. Following the publication of the news of that event, the CCP was subjected to unprecedented pressure.

On May 22, 2001, to cover up the barbaric human rights violations and maintain its “always great” image, the CCP invited several overseas media to visit Masanjia Labor Camp. The invitation included Singapore’s United Morning Post, The Associated Press, NBC, ABC, and the Japan-based NHK.

During the visit, what the journalists saw were new buildings, clean quarters, well-made beds, fully equipped living facilities, and practitioners seated, while in uniform, on benches in uniform lines, watching a TV series. When asked whether 18 female Falun Gong practitioners had been thrown into a cell with male prisoners and were sexually abused, Su Jing, the then director of the Masanjia Second Women’s Labor Camp, replied to the journalists, “There are no male prisoners and there is no male labor camp around here at all. What you’ve heard is sheer nonsense.” The then director of Masanjia Labor Camp, Zhang Chaoying, also claimed that they had never detained male Falun Gong practitioners there. [38]

In Masanjia Labor Camp, male inmates are detained in quite a few places. They are in brigades 1, 3, 6, and 8; the juvenile reformatory; and a new “lift” brigade. Each unit has detained hundreds of male inmates. The Second Women’s Labor Camp was originally right next to the No. 6 brigade of the Masanjia Male Labor Camp. In October 2000, after the incident in which18 female Falun Gong practitioners were thrown into a cell with male prisoners hit the news, the Second Women’s Labor Camp was separated from the No. 6 brigade and moved into the newly built “Masanjia juvenile reformatory” and the latter moved out. (39)

After that, the CCP’s Central Television and other official media frequently went to Masanjia Labor Camp to make sure that the propaganda campaign remained consistent. In mid-October 2000, the CCTV “Focus” program broadcast its interview on the Masanjia Second Women’s Labor camp. The then head of the No. 1 and 2 brigades of the Masanjia Second Women’s Labor Camp, Qiu Ping (who was named “Excellent” policewoman nationwide for her active “transformation” of Falun Gong practitioners) told the audience that Falun Gong practitioners had never been mistreated or tortured at Masanjia, that police officers truly “cared for” Falun Gong practitioners, treated them well, and even helped them get dressed. However, according to a Falun Gong practitioner who got out of Masanjia, Qiu was one of most vicious of all the police officers who tortured Falun Gong practitioners.

[1] Masanjia Women’s Labor Camp. Wikipedia,
[2] Stories about Director Su Jing of Masanjia’s Second Women’s Labor Camp,, June 15, 2006,
[3] “Transformation” is the implementation of brainwashing and torture in order to force a Falun Gong practitioner to renounce Falun Gong. A practitioner is considered “transformed” upon completion of the renunciation process.
[4]The establishment of the special base for transforming Falun Gong members–“Liaoning Province Thought Education School.” Legal Daily, February 7, 2001,
[5]Government of Liaoning Province document [2003] No.14,
[7]辽宁马三家劳教所的迫害仍在继续 -240793p.html ( guihang/gh/Q_A/8.htm).
[9] [10] People’s Daily, June 15, 2001,
[11] Shengyang Great North Prison relocates to new place. Xinhua, October 28, 2003,
[12] Shengyang built the first green prison town of the country. China news, July, 2003
[13] Advance toward modern prisons – a report on the prison overhaul in Liaoning Province., November 27, 2002,
[16] Li Lanqin: Letter to the Experience-Exchange and Commendation Conference on [Thought] Transformation Work held by the Ministry of Justice. August 23, 2000
[17] Luo Gan: speech at the Experience-Exchange and Commendation Conference on [Thought] Transformation Work held by the Ministry of Justice August 29, 2000
[18] Wang Maolin: Speech the Experience-Exchange and Commendation Conference on [Thought] Transformation Work held by the Ministry of Justice August 29, 2000
[19] Directive from the Office of Central Leadership group handling Falun Gong issue on how to “transform” those with strong beliefs in Falun Gong. September 22, 2000
[20] Notice on controlling the tour visit of Masanjia Labor Camps of Liaoning by the Office of Central Leadership group handling Falun Gong issue and Justice Ministry, November 16, 2000, Justice ministry Notice [2000] No. 152
[21] Sound of Hope: Exclusive interview of former director of Shengyang Justice Bureau Han Guangsheng,
[23] People’s Daily, February 27, 2001,
[24].中共中央组织部关于印发辽宁省马三家劳动教养院党委、北京市劳教局党委、黑龙江省七台河市委与“法轮功”斗争经验材料的通知(2001年4月25日) 组通字[2001]21号 Notice of the Central Organization Department: Reprint and distribute the experiences of the struggle against “Falun Gong” by the Party committees of Masanjia Labor Camps, Beijing Education through Labor Bureau, and Qitaihe Municipality. April 25, 2001, Document of Organization Notice [2001] No.21
[28] [29]
[33] Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Manfred Nowak, P. 71, [34] A Woman’s Breasts Disfigured and Infected from Severe Electric Shock Torture at Masanjia Labor Camp,
[35] Red Reign, The World Awakens, a film by Masha Savitz [36] Stories of Conscience, Darkness and Light, By Chen Gang, P. 53,
[37] Atlantic: What Explains the Recent Wave of Violence in China?
[38] Masanjia labor camp was open to the foreign media. United Morning Post, May 23, 2001,