New Ghosts, Old Ghosts: Prisons and Labor Reform Camps in China

By James D. Seymour; Richard Anderson et al. | Go to book overview

Foreword

It has been very satisfying to work with James Seymour and Richard Anderson on the Xinjiang chapter of this book, and to have the chance to reveal to them my experiences in the laogai (labor reform prison camps) there. Although there may be a point here and there where my perspective differs from the authors', they have certainly been fair- minded, and scrupulous about the facts.

I was a political prisoner in China from 1983 to 1994, having spent most of that time in the Xinjiang laogai. Frankly, it was quite a miserable experience. Prisoners' human rights were severely deprived. Most of us faced the double threats of starvation and overwork. Some of us used to occasionally try to protest. Once, I went on an eight-day hunger strike. Eventually I was able to meet with a laogai official. I reported to him the serious maltreatment to which prisoners were being subjected. The situation, however, did not improve. Another prisoner also wrote to the Minister of Justice, revealing that in one short period over one hundred prisoners had been subjected to brutal corporal punishment. Later, officials sent by the superior departments, accompanied by the prison guards who had actually committed the crimes, came to the prison camp to question prisoners about the incidents. Most prisoners were afraid to say anything at all, and thus the truth remained buried. Almost all inmates thereupon lost hope, and gave up on appealing to authorities. Some prisoners found various other ways to vent their frustration, such as collective violence, killing guards, and escaping from prison, and even committing suicide. Things went from bad to worse, with the disorder and gloom of the bingtuan laogai reaching an all-time low in the late 1980s.

-ix-

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New Ghosts, Old Ghosts: Prisons and Labor Reform Camps in China
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Tables vii
  • Charts vii
  • Maps vii
  • Terminology and Prison Structure (see Chart, Page 66) viii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Prologue 1
  • Chapter 1 Introduction 4
  • Chapter 2 Gansu 29
  • Chapter 3 Xinjiang: One Region, Two Systems 44
  • Conclusion 173
  • Chapter 5 Prisons and Human Rights 175
  • Chapter 6 the Aftermath: What Happens Upon Release? 189
  • Chapter 7 Conclusion 202
  • Appendix 1 Authors' Commentaries 226
  • Appendix 2 Others' Commentaries 231
  • Appendix 3 Laogai Regulations 239
  • Endnotes 264
  • Bibliography 299
  • Index 307
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