Sound torture is a form of psychological warfare used to break people’s will using loud music or other noises. Law enforcement authorities in China often employ this method on people of faith because it doesn’t leave visible injuries but damages them mentally. Prolonged sound torture may produce devastating psychological and even physical effects. Subjected to this inhumane treatment, people continue to feel severe dizziness, headaches, fatigue, emotional instability, memory loss, absent-mindedness, and insomnia. Tortures may also cause cardiovascular problems, like increased blood pressure and heart palpitations, and digestive or respiratory issues.
Three members of The Church of Almighty God (CAG)—the most persecuted religious movement in China—recounted to Bitter Winter their horrifying experiences with sound torture.
A CAG believer from the southern province of Guangdong was arrested in 2014 and sent to a legal education center where she was kept in solitary confinement and often subjected to sound torture. She was forced to sit close to a TV set and watch videos defaming the CAG at maximum volume from early morning to late night. In a short while, the woman started hearing continuous ringing noises in her ears and felt dazed. After some more time, she began experiencing irregular heartbeats, abnormal sweating, and a splitting headache. When she was allowed to use the toilet, she felt very dizzy and almost fell to the floor.
Unable to withstand the noise, indoctrination personnel often left the room but returned from time to time to check on the believer. They would make loud noises behind her back, frightening her even more, pushing the woman to the brink of a mental breakdown.
After three days of torture, she had blurred vision, felt disoriented and extremely depressed.
“It’s hard to describe this feeling of distress when every minute seems very long,” the believer recalled. “I felt overwhelmed, crying in bed every night. I wanted to die, felt like committing suicide. I was pondering what I could use to hang myself or cut my wrists. I also thought of knocking my head against the wall but was afraid that it would not be enough to kill me. How I wished not to wake up!”
The woman lost appetite because of the torture, and her weight started declining sharply. She continued hearing ringing noises and experienced headaches for more than ten days after her ordeal was over. She is still frightened of loud noises.
A CAG member in her 50s from the central province of Hubei was subjected to sound torture for nearly 40 days in 2014. She was forced to listen to anti-CAG propaganda at a very high volume, which left her feeling dizzy, and her heart beating fast. Every time she begged to turn down the volume, indoctrination personnel turned it up. On top of unbearable sound torture during the day, a bright light was shone at her bed at night, making it almost impossible for her to fall asleep.
The woman soon started feeling continuous buzzing in her head, her ears felt blocked, vision blurred, and her heart palpitated. Her blood pressure rose sharply; she lost appetite and felt weak.
After several days of continuous physical and mental torment, she started thinking of killing herself. She once shoved a part of her comforter into her mouth, trying to choke herself. On another occasion, she attempted to hang herself with a water heater pipe in the bathroom.
When she was released, the believer weighted 45 kilograms—15 fewer than before the arrest. The woman’s hearing and eyesight were impaired severely; she continues experiencing ringing in her ears and is startled by loud sounds, which make her heart race.
A CAG member from Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region was subjected to brutal torture to expose information about the Church after she was arrested in December 2012. Three times, police officers poured cold water over her and kept her outside in freezing temperatures, with a plastic bag over her head, preventing her from breathing properly. They then pushed pins beneath all her toenails until they started bleeding. She was then locked in a basement for several days with a loudspeaker blaring noises on high volume at all times. As a result, the woman continues experiencing headaches, her memory has declined, and she suffers severe rheumatism.
This article first appeared on Bitter Winter and has been re-published with permission