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Tuesday, June 12, 2001, updated at 23:09(GMT+8)

Re-education Camp: Cult Addicts Transformed Heart and Soul

Facing more than 20 reporters from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, as well as from China's mainland, 38- year-old Fang Bin seemed eloquent in preaching the doctrines of Falun Gong.

"The Falun Dafa (or Falun Gong) is the basic law of humanity in a language understandable to human beings, its appearance is unprecedented in human history," he told reporters, as his police tutor, Jiang Haiquan, looked at him with a patient smile.

The first class Jiang was going to give to the Falun Gong followers was thus started beyond the expection of both Jiang and Fang.

Fang, a private business owner in Beijing, was sent to the Tuanhe Re-education-Through-Labor Camp last night, and never expected his first class this morning would be covered by the press.

Three national media organizations, including Xinhua, and 15 news organizations from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan came to the Tuanhe Camp, in the southern suburbs of Beijing, to look into the camp's work of how to transform Falun Gong followers back into normal contributing members of society in China.

Reporters turned to the police tutor Jiang and asked: Do you think you can covert him and how?

"Even if there is only 1 percent of the chance, I will devote 100 percent of my efforts to do it," Jiang replied.

He picked up the air conditioner remote control for the room, saying that a person involved in Falun Gong only sees one side of this remote control.

"What I'm going to do is to let him see both sides and the inside," he said.

What he used to do with other Falun Gong followers, which was very effective, was to let the "student" read one paragraph of a message by "Master Li Hongzhi," founder of the Falun Gong cult, let the "student" talk about his understanding of it first before the tutor gave his opinion.

"In the end, we always reached a consensus," Jiang said.

At the Tuanhe Camp, more than 90 percent of Falun Gong addicts have broken their allegiance with the cult, and resumed their normal way of thinking, he added.

Reporters were especially interested in what specific actions that have brought the detainees to the camp. The answers usually were they were involved in two kinds of activities: printing and disseminating illegal propaganda materials for the cult and illegal gatherings on Tiananmen Square which disrupted public order.

Zhang Jingsheng, director of the Tuanhe Camp, said that in fact, no one has been sent here merely for practicing Falun Gong, which is in fact a minor offense as prescribed by a legislative decision on preventing and punishing cult activities.

Explaining the legitimacy of the correction system, Zhang said the administrative measure has strict legal procedures and a custody decision has to be approved by a regulatory committee for re-education-through-labor, composed of representatives from police, judiciaries, labor departments and labor unions, women's confederations and youth leagues. The whole execution process is supervised by public prosecutors.

The Tuanhe Camp started to accommodate Falun Gong-related offenders at the beginning of last year, and currently has 340 people in custody, who were involved in illegal Falun Gong activities.

"More than 80 of them have been released, and none has been drawn back by the Falun Gong organizations, let alone committing new offenses," Zhang said.

The reeducation-through-labor camp is clad with grass and trees. Some are seen maintaining the grass, some attending deers, rabbits and birds raised on the camp, some playing basketball, and many more are attending compulsory lectures on "rights and duty of a citizen."

There is a reception room where the detainees receive their visiting family members and friends. One of the detainees is a 23- year-old young man named Liu Yang who sat side by side with his girlfriend, facing his mother and a sister.

"Police treat me like a friend here," Liu said. His girlfriend told reporters that "it is really good that he has finally been transformed."

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Facing more than 20 reporters from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, as well as from China's mainland, 38- year-old Fang Bin seemed eloquent in preaching the doctrines of Falun Gong.

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