Via The Epoch Times
Stories of “Made in China” (1)
In this issue, we continue our discussion of slave labor in China.
The Chinese communist regime has one primary goal: to maintain power at all cost.
Those who insist on their beliefs and place their conscience above the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) face the full weight of the Chinese regime. For having such courage, they may be charged with “betraying” their homeland or “revealing state secrets.” They risk loss of reputation, long-term imprisonment, torture, and even death.
A primary method of suppression is punishment by “re-education through labor.” Skilled at propaganda that twists logic and common sense, the CCP claims that such punishment gives people a chance to “reform” themselves. Crushed by methods perfected over the ages, they give up their conscience and “reform” into “patriotic” beings that never question the CCP.
The low cost of products made with slave labor has attracted great demand for them around the world. For corrupt officials, the forced labor camps are such a profitable business that they care little that the millions of inmates in the estimated 1,200 camps nationwide have never had a trial or a chance to defend their innocence.
We bring you the stories of two such souls - Falun Gong practitioners who were imprisoned for their beliefs and forced to endure “re-education” through grueling forced labor for refusing to betray their conscience, making goods for export to western countries.
— Story 1 —
I Hope Children Don’t Put Them in Their Mouths
By Wang Bin, Ph.D.
During the years 2000 and 2001, the Chinese National Security Division of the Beijing Police Department arrested a large group of intellectuals who practiced Falun Gong, including university professors. They were tortured until they accepted the Party’s “reeducation.” This was proclaimed to the outside world as being done gently as “a breeze and rainfall in spring.” I was one of them.
I was kept in a gloomy prison cell on death row with about 30 prisoners who were waiting to be executed. The cell was only about 30 square meters (about 323 square feet). When I was first imprisoned in this cell, I could smell all kinds of stinky odors from feces, urine, mold, rotten flesh and materials. After a few months, I could no longer smell anything. I was used to the smell that permeated the cell all day.
It was so quiet in the cell that one could even hear a needle drop. Everyone took advantage of this short silence to ponder over his past. One day after another, quite a few people were getting closer and closer to execution day.
The prison cell had two doors, the front and the back. The front door was a thick iron door and an iron fence. The back door was also an iron door, as big as the front door. The front door was an entrance-exit where prisoners were escorted in and out, or dragged out for execution.
Ten armed-policemen guarded the door against potential runaways. Every time the front door was opened, it could mean someone was to die soon.
Air and Sun
“Open the cage!” the loud shout came from a policeman standing on the top. It broke into my thinking and the stillness of the cell. The pale, unkempt prisoners started to show a hint of happiness on their faces. One by one, prisoners walked outside of the back door. They nodded and bowed to show their gratitude to the policeman. Then they quickly occupied a place with more sunlight.
The first time I was let out, I was shocked by what I saw. The first thing the prisoners did was get naked. The scabies, sores and psoriasis on their bodies were fully exposed. I was not too surprised by this.
Survivors and Labor
If they were not sentenced to death, the inmates surviving the detention center were sent to prisons to vomplete their sentence and do slave labor. They brought their infections and sexually transmitted diseases with them to the prisons, while they provided a vast cheap work force. An amazing number of products made in China are produced in prisons and forced labor camps.
In May 2002, I was sent to the Beijing Repatriation Division of Provincial Criminals with several other Falun Gong practitioners. We were waiting to be repatriated to other prisons to serve our sentence. From this experience I gained a real understanding of the forced labor in prisons.
We were expected to labor tirelessly. The routine was to labor for 15 or 16 hours a day. If anyone had trouble finishing the assigned work, he was punished by having to “sing until the dawn,” which meant he had to keep working and could not sleep. Since the cells were more than full, the prisoners had no time to take care of personal hygiene. They counted the days, with their diseases worsening day by day.
I was arrested for practicing Falun Gong. I had committed no crimes. So I just considered myself as a “correspondent” sent there to seriously observe what was happening around me. I hoped that one day my observations would enable the world to have a better understanding of what goes on in Chinese prisons.
From Christmas to Underwear
Our tasks included packing women’s underwear, making copies of audio and video materials, attaching trademarks to various products, processing books, binding books, and making fishing floats, colored Christmas bulbs and accessories to be exported. I participated in all of the manual labor and had a good understanding of each work procedure.
During one hot summer, the prison authorities ordered us to make packages for Gracewell underwear. It was really hot and yet the prisoners hadn’t showered for a very long time. They scratched all over their bodies, while being engaged in manual labor. Some of the prisoners scratched their private parts every now and again. When they took out their hands, I saw blood on their fingernails. I was not sure if women would really look graceful in that underwear.
Another time, the prisoners processed a kind of packaged food called “Orchid Beans” for some small business owners.
This snack was made from broad beans. They kept trucking broad beans into the prison. In the prison there were barrels in which the broad beans were soaked in water until they were swollen. To spare themselves some trouble when changing water in the barrels, sometimes the prisoners would dump a whole barrel of beans into a dirty urinal and then pour water into the barrel putting the beans inside. When the beans became swollen in the water, the prisoners would start to peel the beans. In front of each person there was a set of parallel knives. The prisoner picked up a bean, rolling it over the knife and removing the bean skin on either side leaving a “golden belt” in the middle. In this way the beans looked good, though they were dirty and muddy. Then, the last step was to throw the beans back into the basket.
At least 10,000 beans had to be peeled in one day to finish the assignment. As the prisoners bustled around peeling the beans, their mucus and sputum mixed with the beans. Then the processed beans were put into a big bag to be taken to the stores where they would be fried. The fried broad beans looked golden and shining. They packed them in beautiful packages and sold them to customers.
The broad beans are in demand in the market and thus provide a high profit to sellers. Consumers enjoy the beans.
In a U.S. supermarket, I saw fried broad beans imported from China. I wondered if our prison had made those beans.
Annually, a large number of Christmas items and clothing for western countries are made in Chinese prisons. Once the prison was assigned to make light bulbs. Every day prisoners were supposed to tie copper wires tightly around a plastic tank in a fixed shape and then connect all the light bulbs together. The prisoners’ hands were usually bleeding. Needless to say, that stuff from their skin and sexually transmitted diseases were left on the light bulbs.
Once the prison I was in made strings of beads as jewelry accessories. The prisoners used needles and thread to string colored beads and then connected the two ends to make a string of beads. The strings of beads looked beautiful. But, I hope that women don’t put them around their necks and that children will not put them in their mouths.
– Story 2:
My Experience in a Chinese Labor Camp, Ms. Chen Ying, currently residing in France
Stories of “Made in China” (2)
France resident: My Experience in a Chinese Labor Camp
I was imprisoned between November 2000 and November 2001 for refusing to give up practicing Falun Gong. During that period of time, I was held in servitude at the Tuanhe Prisoner Dispatch Center and the Xin’an Forced Labor Camp in Beijing.
Beijing Tuanhe Prisoner Dispatch Center
Packaged large quantities of disposable chopsticks. Most of them were for use in restaurants and hotels, while some were exported.
Made “Florence Gift Packages”
Beijing Xin’an Labor Camp
Packaged large quantities of disposable chopsticks.Most of them were for use in restaurants and hotels, while some were exported.
Knit woolen gloves (exported to Europe).
Crocheted cushions for tea sets.
Crocheted hats for a company in Qinghe Township, Beijing.
Knit seat cushions.
Re-processed sweaters; removed sundries from yarn.
Made large quantities of slippers. The job was mainly gluing the sole and the instep together, and the labor camp demanded a high-quality product. When I was there, it was the hottest time of the summer.
Many practitioners and I were working in our prison cells. Working in a humid prison cell full of irritating glue odors was suffocating. We worked until midnight or one o’clock in the morning every time there was a shipment.
Made stuffed animals, such as rabbits, bears, dolphins, penguins, etc. Major steps included putting the stuffing material inside, stitching the doll together, sewing the eyes, stitching the mouth, etc.
The Sanitation and Living Conditions of the Forced Labor Camp
(1) Beijing Tuanhe Prisoner Dispatch Center
I was locked up with over a dozen other Falun Gong practitioners in a cell that was about twelve square meters (130 square feet) in size. There were only eight bunk beds in the room; thus, some of us had to sleep on the floor. We did everything in this cell, including working, eating, drinking, and using the toilet; therefore, there were many flies and mosquitoes. We were allowed to eat only at certain times. Water was rationed, and drinking water was limited. The prison guards never allowed us to wash our hands before meals. After a meal, we had to get back to work immediately. Twice a day, we were given five minutes for personal hygiene. When the time was up, we were forced to stop and not allowed to take any water back to our cell. If we could not finish the work assigned to us, we were not allowed to clean ourselves. When there was a rush to get products out, we had to work late and go to sleep without washing. There were fixed times for the whole group of practitioners to go and use the toilet. Even then, we still had to ask the guards for permission. We were allowed two minutes to use the toilet each time; thus, many people did not even have enough time to have a bowel movement. We could go to bed only at the specified time; otherwise, we would be scolded and not allowed to sleep. At night, the guards locked up all the cells. A small bucket in each cell was used for a toilet. We were watched even during sleep.
We were allowed very little sleep each day, and forced to start working the moment we opened our eyes. My hands had blisters and thick calluses from working long hours to finish the assigned quota of packaging disposable chopsticks. I often worked until midnight. We were not allowed to sleep unless we finished the quota. We were forced to work over 16 hours every day, and everything was done in our cells. The sanitation conditions were extremely poor. Even though we were packaging disposable chopsticks and the label said the chopsticks were disinfected at a high temperature, the entire process was unhygienic. We could not wash our hands, and we had to package those chopsticks that had fallen on the floor. In order to seek a huge profit, Tuanhe Prisoner Dispatch Center and Tuanhe Labor Cam disregarded the health of the general public and knowingly committed such wrongdoings.
Many restaurants in Beijing are currently using these chopsticks. I heard they are even being exported to other countries.
Female practitioners are forced to perform excessive physical labor. We were forced to unload trucks full of bagged materials that weighed over 100 pounds each. We had to carry the bags on our shoulders from the truck to our cells.
Other physical labors included digging pits, planting trees, and transporting fertilizers. The police exploited our labor to create illegal income for themselves. The dispatch center did not compensate us for any of our work. In fact, we were forced to do long and hard labor without any compensation.
(2) Beijing Xin’an Labor Camp
Both our bodies and minds were imprisoned and severely persecuted under the excessive workload. The police often prevented us from sleeping at regular hours. When there were work orders, we had to work day and night to produce the best product in the shortest amount of time.
All the work in the labor camp is labor-intensive. Falun Gong practitioners are forced to work until midnight under dim lights, and everyone has a quota to meet. If a practitioner cannot finish the quota, he/she is not allowed to sleep. One time we were making gift items for Nestlé; these items included knitted products and crocheted cushions.
In order to meet the shipping deadline, we were forced to work in the hallway or lavatories until one or two o’clock in the morning; sometimes we worked through the whole night. The police used this method to control our thoughts. They would not let us have a single moment of idle time to think calmly, and we were not allowed to talk to each other. They had drug addicts and “transformed” practitioners monitoring us. They wanted us to do nothing but work.
During summer time, our cells were so hot that people sometimes collapsed from heat exhaustion. Many practitioners developed symptoms of hypertension and heart disease from overwork. Their entire bodies twitched.
Ms. Chen Ying was detained three times for practicing Falun Gong. She had been sent to a forced labor camp for one year while she was visiting her family in China. Prison guards forcefully injected her with toxic drugs, resulting in damage to the nerves on the left side of her body, spasms, and partial memory loss. Ms. Chen is currently residing in France.