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Title: Above the Ghosts’ Heads: The Women of Masanjia Labor Camp Director: DU Bin Length: 60 minutes Subtitles: Chinese and English Date completed: April 2013
Liu Hua, age 51, peasant, from Zhangliangbao Village, Sujiatun District, Shenyang, Liaoning.
Her husband, Yue Yongjin, was elected the village committee head by 1,200 villagers in 2003.
During an audit of the village’s accounts, he discovered that the village party secretary and senior local officials had misappropriated large sums from collectively owned funds.
When the couple started to report the corrupt officials, they were beaten and persecuted.
They left home and spent years exiled in Beijing, unable to return.
From 2006 to 2011, local authorities charged Liu Hua three separate times with “endangering national security and opposing the party and opposing socialism” and sent her to spend a total of four years in Masanjia Women’s Labour Camp.
Her husband served three years in Shenxin Labour Camp. In all, the couple spent seven years in re-education through labour.
Although Liu Hua had only five years of schooling, she secretly recorded her fellow camp inmates’ experiences of enslavement, humiliation, and torture.
She wrote them down on paper every day, and did her best to memorise what she had written before swallowing the papers.
Three months after her release, at great risk, she courageously revealed the stories of inhumane treatment at the Masanjia Women’s Labour Camp.
We emerged from our mothers’ wombs, but at Masanjia Women’s Labour Camp, we were tortured for petitioning for rights and for practicing Falungong.
They struck our breasts and genitals with electric batons, inserted batons into our vaginas to shock us, filled our vaginas with red pepper powder, inserted toothbrushes into our vaginas and rotated them.
They opened our mouths with vaginal dilators to force-feed and insult us.
We don’t understand what has happened to our country.
China’s ‘re-education through labour’ system is the most evil system in this world, an insult to humankind.
The Masanjia Women’s Labour Camp in Shenyang, Liaoning, is such a place.
A place where we were treated not as women, but as slaves and hostages of this evil system.
Before Masanjia Labour Camp was built, there used to be a graveyard. Later the graveyard was levelled and the labour camp was built on top of it.
So the land cost nothing.
The police in the camp told us: ‘Under the ground are ghosts, above the ground are women in the camp.’
We the women in the camp said: ‘Those underground ghosts live on Earth, aboveground…’ ‘…while we live in Hell, underground.’
‘We are women living above the ghosts’ heads.’ ‘The worlds of the dead and the living have been mixed up together.’
About the director:
Du Bin, born on 1 March 1972 in Tancheng County, Shandong, is also nicknamed “Mimi” by friends for his “dreamy” character. In recent years, he has become an advocate for petitioners and other grass-roots groups. A former photojournalist for China Society Periodical and other media, Du Bin works currently as a freelance photographer for theNew York Times, and his works are widely published in the New York Times, theInternational Herald Tribune, Times and Stars. His photograph “Writing Grievances” won the Close-up Photography award in the 14th Human Rights Press Awards (May 2010). Du’s work include Petitioners: Living Fossils Who Survived China’s Rule of Law(Ming Pao, 2007); Shanghai Graveyard (Vine Press, 2010); Toothbrush (White Elephant, 2011); Beijing Ghosts (Boxun, 2010); Chairman Mao’s Purgatory (Mingjing, 2011); Ai God (Suyuan, 2012); Mao Zedong’s Regime of Human Flesh (Mingjing, 2013);Tiananmen Square Massacre (forthcoming); Vaginal Coma (drafted). His micro-documentary series will soon release its first episode “Motherland of Grass-mud Horses”.