It was lunch time in the Masanjia Reeducation Institute in this capital of northeast China' s Liaoning Province, a place famous for its success in reeducating over 90 percent of the 1,000 female Falun Gong practitioners it has accommodated.
The big and well-lit dining hall was packed with inmates eating their meals, which consisted of meat, aubergine, potato, pickles and rice.
Zhang Yanli, a former Falun Gong practitioner from Huludao City, said the food here is much better than she had expected. "The diet is colorful and we have different food for three meals a day," said Zhang.
When asked whether the recent rumor spread by U.S. Falun Gong practitioners that over 130 inmates here were on a hunger strike was correct, Zhang refuted it as "absolute nonsense".
Deputy Head of the institute Sun Fengwu was also puzzled and angry. "How come they have started such a big rumor from nothing?"
In the dormitory, Li Xiuqin, having had a cold for several days, was alone in bed while others were still out dining.
Since she had no appetite, instructor Su Jing had asked the chef to make something special for her.
In the visiting room, inmate Sun Guizhen was meeting with her husband, daughter and grandson. Fifty six-year-old Sun was put into the institute for disturbing the social order last December.
"The past for me is like a nightmare," she said, "each time I see my husband, daughter and grandson, I regret having followed Falun Gong. How pleasant it is to be happily together with my family like now."
Sun's daughter said the family members have all set their hearts at rest after finding out through several visits that the situation in this institute is quite good.
Sun and her family later had lunch together in the guesthouse of the institute, a place providing accommodation especially for those coming here to meet their relatives or friends.
Equipped with a color television and other facilities, it looks no difference from any other ordinary hotel.
In front of the dormitory on the square stands a flagpole. Every Monday morning, like most Chinese units everywhere, a flag raising ceremony is held with all of the institute members present.
Inmates here also have different kinds of entertainment like basketball, volleyball, and various cultural activities. They can also watch television every evening and on weekends.
"We watched the announcement of Beijing's successful bid for the 2008 Olympics on television," said inmate Liu Shuwen, "we were all very happy for Beijing and very proud of our own country."
Instructor Su believed that the facts speak for themselves and the rumors are just rumors.
The fact why the rumors arise is just because most of the inmates at the institute have learned about the cult nature of Falun Gong and the evils of Li Hongzhi through reeducation, Su said.
The institute has therefore often become the target of rumors by certain ill-motivated people.
However, she affirmed that no matter what rumors there are, reeducation efforts for these former Falun Gong practitioners will continue. "We will never let those evil attempts come true," she said.
(People's Daily, August 30, 2001)