Former Masanjia Detainees Corroborate Forced Labor Plea Letter
Created: 2012-12-26 12:41 EST
It’s a modern-day version of a message in a bottle. From a Chinese labor camp to the home of a US resident.
On Sunday, the Oregon-based Oregonian newspaper reported a letter resident Julie Keith discovered inside a box of Halloween decorations. She bought it from Kmart in October, 2011.
The box came from China—and according to the letter—it wasn’t from a factory. Instead, the decorations were made here, at the Masanjia Labor Camp in Shenyang, Liaoning province.
The letter claims detainees work 15-hour days and are paid less than $2 USD a month for forced labor. It says thousands are held there, and that many are persecuted Falun Gong practitioners.
Former detainees at Masanjia have corroborated the claims in the letter.
[Dai Liguo, Formerly Detained Falun Gong Practitioner]:
“I was sent to Masanjia in 1999 and persecuted there. They produce handmade crafts for export. Most are plastic and are toxic. I was making Christmas decorations, and also knitted sweaters. I had to work from 5 in the morning to 11 at night.”
[Guo Yujun, Formerly Detained Falun Gong Practitioner]:
“Aside from toilet breaks, we had to sit for the whole day, and make those products. There wasn’t a day off, and we weren’t fed properly. In our case, there was no pay for our work.”
China’s labor re-education system is notorious for rights abuses. The system is used heavily in the Communist regime’s persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual practice. In 2008, the US State Department estimated up to half of the 200,000 registered detainees in Chinese labor camps were Falun Gong adherents.
Whoever wrote the letter discovered in Oregon did not sign it. But they did ask for it to be sent to human rights organizations.
It is illegal in the US to import products made by convict labor and forced labor. The Oregonian reports that the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security Investigations are now looking into the claims.
Sears Holdings Corporations, which runs Kmart, has also said it is holding its own investigations.