Labor Camps Reduce Production Costs to Shore up Chinese Exports
NEW YORK (FDI) – Mr. Wang Jiangping is handicapped and can’t knit as fast as the others. It’s almost 2:00 a.m. and the Division Six prisoners have been working since dawn. They have to meet the deadline. His fellow Falun Gong practitioners nod off only to be wakened by guards stabbing them with scissors. Mr. Wang is exhausted.
The guards throw bricks at his chest. The Changji Labor Camp has to meet Tianshan Wooltex’s quota of Kashmir sweaters, or the guards won’t get their bonus. The Chinese “reform through labor” camps have become privatized. They are small enterprises that sign contracts with big companies and export products to overseas shopping malls.
It is a place where torturers get rich, and where Falun Gong practitioners slave to pay for the purchase of the electric batons that will shock them if they slow down.
These are places where persecution drives profit.
These are places where sleep and food deprivation, filth, stench, beatings, heat, cold, and toxic odors are daily routines.
These places are where products for export are made by the slave labor of prisoners of conscience: doctors, teachers and students abducted from their homes for practicing Falun Gong.
China’s Hidden Slaves
Xinjiang’s Tianshan Wooltex is able to use free labor to gain a bigger share of the competitive international market. Located deep in China’s hidden Western region, the company began allocating contracts to labor camps and prisons in 1990.
The supply of free labor increased dramatically after 1999, when Jiang Zemin’s persecution campaign administratively placed hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners in labor camps.
In addition to the Changji camp, Wooltex also owns workshops in Wulabo Labor Camp, Xinjiang Women’s Labor Camp, No. 3 Prison of Xinjiang Province and the No. 5 Prison.
According to a source from the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, Wooltex exports 200,000-280,000 products to Banana Republic every year. The source says Wooltex also exports its products to many other clothing companies, such as Neiman Marcus, Holt Renfrew, and French Connection.
The revenue from the sales of these sweaters abroad reportedly allows the labor camps to construct new office buildings, workshops, and confinement rooms, as well as televisions and VCDs for the guards.
The revenue is also used for purchasing electric batons, handcuffs and other tools to torture practitioners with and, in turn, try to keep up production.
According to one testimony, when seeing prisoners fall asleep while working, the guards shock them with electric batons and order the head of the workshop, also an inmate, to hit them with bricks and wooden clubs. If a detainee fails to complete his assigned work, the guard will cuff him to a heating pipe, strip him naked and shock his neck, armpits, abdomen, private areas, mouth and ears with electric batons. His detention terms will also be extended.
In March 2002, another Xinjiang company, Tebian Electric Corporation (TBEA), also completed a contract for the creation of a production unit with the Changji camp. Since then, practitioners such as Ge Lijun, Nu Erlan, Wang Xiu, and others have been forced to produce for the company while in detention.
Yet, TBEA receives recommendations from the UK Accreditation Service, the U.S. Quality and Environmental Professional Safety, the International High Pressure industries, as well as Italian companies. Moreover, TBEA products are sold in Canada, Australia, Malaysia, India, Singapore, and twenty other countries and regions.
According to the Xinjiang source, a big show is put on for inspectors. Normally, the prisoners are only given cabbage soup, which is just enough to sustain their lives. However, “during an inspection or visit, the labor camp will pretend to serve chicken and beef to fool the visitors. After the inspectors or visitors leave, the food will be taken away.”
Falun Gong practitioners in Beijing’s Tuanhe Labor Camp stuff chopsticks into paper wrappers labeled “Sanitized for Your Safety.” They haven’t washed their hands for days.
There is no water.
Dozens of prisoners are crammed together in a tiny room where they sleep, eat, go to the bathroom and pack chopsticks. Some of the chopsticks fall on the floor and are stepped on. Others fall into the toilet basin.
Not a single stick can be thrown away, so they are picked up and stuffed in wrappers just the same, ready to be sold to restaurants in China and abroad.
Practitioners squat on the floor for 18 hours a day stuffing up to 10,000 pairs of chopsticks each. The elderly practitioners like Mr. Dao Wanhui can’t keep up, so they are allowed only 3 hours of sleep.
According to witnesses, practitioners in these camps are forced to work in unbearable heat. Overworked and with little food, water, or sleep many exhibit symptoms of hypertension and heart disease, and their entire bodies twitch.
In the Tianjin Shuangkou Labor Camp 90% of the prisoners have scabies. Puss oozes out from underneath their fingernails and trickles onto the bamboo BBQ skewers and food products.
Made in China
Mr. Lin Shenli, returned to his wife in Montreal in February 2002 after being detained in China for over two years for appealing for Falun Gong in Beijing in December 1999.
During his detention in Dafeng Labor Camp in Jiangsu Province, Mr. Lin was forced to make soccer balls that he later identified in a large sports equipment store in Canada.
The directors of the Jiamusi Labor Camp in Heilongjiang Province force the female prisoners to work extended overtime in order to meet outlandish daily production quotas.
Due to being overworked, eyewitnesses say one of the practitioners, Ms. Shi Jing, became pale and collapsed on the worktable. She was revived and forced to continue working.
This labor camp further widens its profit margin by using cheap glue for cell phone cases.
The guards complained about the glue’s strong odor. After lab revealed the toxin levels in the materials used were well beyond the industry standards and could cause cancer, the guards began wearing large facemasks. They dare not enter the production area while practitioners are working.
Since mid-July 2001, when Liaoning Province’s Longshan Labor Camp received its first order for wax-processing products, Falun Gong practitioners and other inmates have been forced to produce wax candles in various colors. The wax is then exported with a wide profit margin for the labor camp.
The wax gives off a strong toxic odor, causing many practitioners to look pale, become dizzy and lose their appetite.
The glue used to seal the boxes is also toxic. Since practitioners have to use their fingers to press and seal them. Their fingers get stuck together, and the skin peels off and gets glued to the boxes.
In the Longshan Labor Camp, about 100 people are forced to do this work on a daily basis, finishing 80 to 90 boxes a day.
During the Western holiday season the speed is accelerated to the point of near madness, as the Longshan camp prisoners also assemble festive decorations such as snowmen and snowflakes.
Lanzhou City’s Dashaping Detention Center forces inmates, including Falun Gong practitioners, to slave for the Zhenglin Melon Seeds Corporation, which exports food products to more than 30 countries. The seeds get covered with blood and puss as the prisoners work in a squatting position all day long, often suffering from frostbite, swollen lips and cracked fingernails.
Henan Province Shibalihe and Xuchang labor camps have been buying Falun Gong practitioners for 800 Yuan as slave labor for Henan Rebecca Hair, China’s biggest hair product company. Their products are sold worldwide under brand names such as Shake-N-Go and Royal Imex, Inc. Ms. Zhang Yali, an accountant in her thirties, and at least two other Falun Gong practitioners have been tortured to death in these camps.
Products made by Falun Gong practitioners in other labor camp that are often exported include: moon cake boxes, dishwashing products, popsicle sticks, coffee straws, hand made wool coats, buttons, bedding products, plastic cement packages, fake eyelashes, embroidered products, hand knitted hats, dry flowers, plastic flowers, necklaces, and other handcrafts.
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