Members of The Church of Almighty God recall their experiences while in custody where they were forced to take psychoactive substances, alongside other tortures.
Falun Gong practitioners, members of The Church of Almighty God (CAG), dissidents, and other prisoners of conscience, illegally detained by the CCP, as well ethnic Kazakhs and Uyghurs kept in Xinjiang’s transformation through education camps, are often brutally tortured while in custody. Despite international condemnation of these torture practices, the detained people continue to suffer. In some reported cases, they are even forced to take psychotropic drugs, suffering physical and mental devastation as a result. The toxicity of the drugs results in severe residual symptoms that accompany them for the rest of their lives.
A few CAG members shared with Bitter Winter their ordeals while serving sentences for their belief.
One of the interviewed, a woman from the southeastern province of Fujian, was released in February after five years of inhumane prison life, leaving her with extreme physical and mental trauma. She is emaciated, with a sallow face and protruding cheekbones. She kept her voice very low during the conversation, seemingly yet to recover from the terror she has experienced. The woman spoke very slowly, struggling to recall the past with each sentence.
She was arrested in 2014 for being a member of the CAG, a banned Christian new religious movement that is included in the list of the xie jiao. To force her to provide information about the Church, she was subjected to a sleep deprivation torture technique called “exhausting an eagle,” controlled food provision, and other forms of cruel torment. To coerce her into giving up her faith, she underwent heavy indoctrination sessions; even drugs were slipped into her drinking water.
“That water was different from usual. It was a bit yellowish. On the evening that I drank it, I felt totally dazed and disoriented, and even suffered urinary incontinence,” the woman said. Later, guards forcibly dragged her into the infirmary. Without asking about any of her symptoms, the doctor gave her an injection.
“After receiving the injection, I felt like I couldn’t remember anything, and I felt very scared. A teaching assistant kept trying to lure me, saying, ‘Hurry and sign the three statements [a statement of repentance, a statement of guarantee, and a statement breaking off ties with the Church]. You won’t have to suffer any more after signing them.’ I hallucinated as well. Terrible images of being arrested and tortured kept flashing in my mind,” the believer said bitterly, recalling her ordeal.
Due to the toxicity of the psychotropic drugs, her memory has severely deteriorated. She is unable to recall many details about the persecution she endured. Even the slightest movements scare her, and, at night, she is often startled awake by nightmares.
One more interviewed believer recounted that while interrogating him, a police officer forced him to take drugs, saying, “I’m going to torture you slowly and make you go crazy, so everyone will think that being a member of the CAG makes people go insane.”
Another member of the CAG, also from Fujian, has suffered the same kind of persecution. She was arrested in 2013, and the police tortured her cruelly, trying to extort a confession from her. The woman developed severe pain in her head, and officers used the pretext of “treating her headache” to deceive her into taking psychotropic substances.
“A few days after taking the drugs, I felt a lot of pain in my stomach and heart, my hands and feet trembled, and I had muscle cramps all over my body. I also vomited from being nauseous and experienced blurred vision,” the woman recalled. Sometime later, a prison doctor advised her to stop taking medication, but the guards continued forcing her to take drugs for ten more months.
Although it has been two years since she was released from prison, she continues to develop headaches whenever recalling the past. Sometimes the pain is accompanied by vomiting. Besides, her responsiveness rate has dropped a lot, and she has become very forgetful. Sometimes she brushes her teeth several times a day; other times, she doesn’t brush her teeth for several days in a row.
A CAG member from the eastern province of Zhejiang was sentenced to one year and two months in prison for his belief. After serving six months, he, too, was forced to ingest unknown medication. Guards claimed that they were treating his liver disease and made him take more than ten pills each day. This forced administration of drugs continued until his release.
After taking drugs, not only did his health not improve, but his memory declined, his reactions became slower, and his weight dropped more than 15 kilograms.
Choking with tears, the believer’s mother said: “Since he was arrested and imprisoned, I don’t know how many tears I’ve shed. Every day, I worried that he was suffering in there. He used to be very smart, and his memory was also very good in the past. When he came back after completing his sentence, his mental condition was very poor. He became dull-minded and unresponsive. When asked anything, he doesn’t know what to say.”