Slave Labor, Abuse at Masanjia Labor Camp Not Isolated

Created: 2013-04-10 16:06 EST

Category: China
China’s labor camp system has been thrown into the spotlight again. This weekend, a magazine article exposed the extent of abuse against women inmates at the notorious Masanjia Labor Camp in Liaoning province.
But the conditions there, are far from isolated. 
Human rights violations in China’s controversial re-education through labor system have been reported for years. And they happen throughout the country, where labor camps turn inmates into slave labor.
[Lu Fang, Falun Gong Practitioner]
“We were wrapping disposable chopsticks. We couldn’t take breaks, not even to wash our hands after toilet breaks. We were only allowed to shower once a month, and we had sores on our skin. After scratching, they’d turn bloody. But we had to keep wrapping the chopsticks.”
Lu Fang is a Falun Gong practitioner. In 2001, Beijing authorities sentenced him to one-year in a "re-education through labor" camp. The Chinese regime's crackdown on the spiritual practice began two years earlier, in 1999.
A former quality inspector at China’s Ministry of Construction, Lu says the forced labor took a toll on his health.
[Lu Fang, Falun Gong Practitioner] 
“One day, before I slept, I was so exhausted I couldn’t stand, I was throwing up and my whole body was in spasms."
It wasn’t just harsh working conditions though--inmates often have to work with toxic materials. 
Ms. Pan, another Falun Gong practitioner, was held in a Shanxi women’s labor camp for three years. In one two week period, she and other inmates worked 20 hour days, making red envelopes—used by Chinese people for celebrations.
[Ms. Pan, Falun Gong Practitioner]
“The glue choked our breath, it was toxic. We had to use the glue to make the envelopes, we were constantly dizzy.”
China’s re-education through labor system is a remnant of the Cultural Revolution era. Under current rules, police can send an individual to labor camps for up to four years, without a legal trial. 
Since 1999, practitioners of the Falun Gong spiritual practice have been victims of this policy. Overseas observers believe they make up the majority of inmates at Chinese labor camps—numbering at least in the hundreds of thousands. 
Since their abuse inside Chinese labor camps, Pan and Lu have escaped China, and are now living in Canada.