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My Conscience Forbids Me from Keeping Silent Any Longer

Popular Chinese Internet essayist Du Daobin gives his personal observation on the persecution of Falun Gong.

About four years ago, I often ate out with the deputy head of a state-run enterprise, who was in charge of Party affairs. There were over 1,000 staff members in his company, and among them were three Falun Gong practitioners. He was assigned to be in charge of the Falun Gong "issue" at his company and to communicate directly with the "610 Office." One of his main responsibilities was to stop the three Falun Gong practitioners from going out to appeal in public.

Should they manage to appeal somewhere in a public place, his job required him to stop them and properly "take care" of them. At the beginning, he did not take this seriously. Because he did not want to offend others, he mainly "educated them with a thorough scolding" and used his best persuasive techniques. The three Falun Gong practitioners managed to get out twice. For this, he was severely criticized and given stern warnings. At a meeting, the head of the municipal Party committee warned him that if they managed to get out one more time, even if only one of them did, he would be immediately removed from his position.

As this deputy head was still young, he did not want to hinder his career by losing face at his workplace. But how could he make sure that they would not sneak out again? He said to us, "I’ve made up my mind. I told them and my subordinates very clearly that if they get out, no matter who it was, I would nail his feet to a wooden board." This comment made my hair stand on end. I asked him, "Is this really the right way to handle it? That’s against the law." He said, "Who cares?" Because we used to be classmates, I knew him quite well. He came from a rural background and was relatively kind and honest. I went on to ask him why he would treat people this way. He said, "I don’t see any alternative. I’m forced to do it.

I was concerned that those Falun Gong practitioners would be treated unlawfully, but found it hard to openly voice my concern. So I asked him in a roundabout way, "Are you allowed to kill them?" "No! Just need to keep them from running away." Then, I asked him, "Are they afraid of death?" "They are so stubborn, they are not afraid of death," he replied. Finally, I couldn’t restrain myself, "That’s right. They’re not even afraid of death, what else are they afraid of? You know, for those who are not afraid of death, even gods or ghosts would leave them alone. Your workplace is not a political organ, so you cannot kill them. You should be careful—what if the tables are turned later on and Falun Gong becomes acceptable again in our society? I wouldn’t take any chances. If the situation changes, and you have to ‘settle accounts,’ you will be the fall guy. I don’t think it’s smart to just obey the higher authorities because you’re afraid of losing your job. Who will look out for you when things change? So, listen to me, have mercy on people when you can, and don’t make them suffer too much." He was silent for a long time after hearing what I said. I don’t know if what I said to him had any effect, but after that the Falun Gong issue was never mentioned again.

I would never have believed it possible for a person with a kind and honest nature to be compelled to use cruel torture on people who simply wanted to go out to appeal, had I not heard it with my own ears. It is because of this personal experience and because I have heard and seen so much darkness in the judicial system, that when I read the following material I could only believe it was all too true:
“At Masanjia Labor Camp, the Falun Gong practitioners are stripped of their clothes in the winter and are then cuffed to a basketball stand. They are cuffed there until they pass out and their faces are covered with numerous frostbitten blisters. In the dark of the night, the practitioners are dragged to the restroom and brutally beaten for 12 days at a time, until the flesh on their legs swells by almost an inch and pus leaks from their wounds."

"The doctors at Xuzhou Mental Hospital forcefully tied practitioners to beds. Medical staff injected practitioners with large doses of unknown drugs. Right after the injections, they lost consciousness. When the drugs took effect, it was so painful that it felt as if their internal organs were being torn apart. After they regained consciousness, they questioned the medical staff, ‘Why did you give drugs to people who are not sick?’ The staff answered, ‘It is not up to us; people at the top instructed us to do so…’ They also said, ‘… Don’t leave the hospital on your own. If we don’t gradually reduce the dosage you will either go crazy or die. Even if you run away, people would treat you as an insane person and send you back here. The pain from the reaction of the drug is very scary and hard to imagine.’"

"The ‘610 Office,’ which specializes in persecution, has branch offices throughout the country. Its other activity is to hold countless brainwashing classes, glorified as ‘study sessions’ or ‘re-education schools.’ There, they arbitrarily abduct Falun Gong practitioners, deprive them of sleep and with threats of violence, force them to write statements guaranteeing that they will not practice Falun Gong. This kind of brainwashing, forcing people to go against their own consciences, is equivalent to robbing them of their souls. It’s even crueler than physical torture and destruction."

I believe after reading these stories, every Chinese reader has the feeling: "How inhuman! Falun Gong practitioners are our fellow countrymen; they are also citizens of the People’s Republic of China. They suffer bestial torture in their own country, and this has exceeded the boundary of conscience!"

What shames me is that this stunning and shocking persecution is taking place right in front of us! They die right in front of our eyes like Sun Zhigang [a college student who was beaten to death by police because he failed to present identification]! All of this is happening in our time! It’s happening in our country!

These innocent practitioners suffered brutality on the same scale as the Jewish people in the Nazi concentration camps, as the Chinese people who were tortured by the Japanese army during World War II, and as the people who were persecuted during the Cultural Revolution!

Did these people commit any true offense? Even if they did, should they be treated in such an inhuman way? I can say for sure that they were innocent, and they were victims of a political plot. The "610 Office" cannot escape responsibility for the fact that these people died such tragic deaths right under our noses, like Sun Zhigang did.
People like us who are familiar with what happened during the Cultural Revolution and the inhuman treatment people experienced in the birth-control movement such as "if you see a person drinking poison to commit suicide, do not wrestle the bottle from him; if you see a person hanging himself to commit suicide, do not help untie the rope."

In the last four years, I once believed the government’s propaganda attacking Falun Gong. I took an unconcerned attitude towards the Falun Gong issue and did not pay much attention to the inhuman suffering they were experiencing. I kept silent while they were being persecuted—which meant that I indirectly chose to conspire with the autocratic regime. Today, all of a sudden, I woke up to their tragic situation. I see that an enormous evil has been released and is still expanding. I feel shocked, and my heart and conscience are filled with guilt.

I feel I must break my silence and I want to loudly appeal to the intellectual circles and people who are on the Internet:

Kind-hearted Chinese people who are still silent, wake up! While you are keeping silent, the spirit of the Nazis has returned and usurped the power of our government, killing your countrymen with the most inhuman means. It is time we take action! It is time we offer the victims our helping hands! Voice your support to those unfortunate people who have the same civil rights as us! Say "No" to that huge beast. It is high time we end this miscarriage of justice.

(This article was originally published on July 26, 2003 at

Du Daobin was born in 1964. He is an Internet essayist living in Yingcheng city in the central province of Hubei. On June 11, he received a three-year prison sentence with four years suspended on charges of "instigating subversion."

Before his arrest, Mr. Du was an ordinary civil servant in the city’s Office for Medical Care Reform, but his name was well known in the Chinese-language cyberspace.  He began to write Internet essays in 2000 and has since authored over 388 Internet articles.  Among the popular Internet essayists in China, Du Daobin was the first to publicly criticize the "Three Represents," the first to publicly condemn the persecution of Falun Gong, and the first to successfully initiate cyberspace signature campaigns on such subjects. He is known as a prolific and influential writer.

Even though Du Daobin never held back his sharp tongue, he remained a civil servant inside the system and never advocated violence or revolution.  Many Chinese intellectuals regarded his arrest on October 28, 2003 as a chilling signal: the government would criminalize them for mere words.
Shortly after Du Daobin’s arrest, over 2000 Chinese individuals publicly signed names in a cyberspace campaign to free him. This is again a group action in which the Chinese people and Chinese intellectuals tried to protect their own rights within the existing legal framework—a new phenomenon often referred to as the "Civil Movement to Protect People’s Rights."