Feb 17, 2004

Falun Gong practitioners are being sold to Chinese hair-care firm Henan Rebecca and utilized as slave labor.

Hair products manufacturer Henan Rebecca, Inc. is contracting work to notorious Chinese labor camps that buy Falun Gong practitioners as slave labor, reports the Falun Dafa Information Center (FDI), an organization dedicated to publicizing details of the persecution of Falun Gong.

The Information Center says that labor camps such as Shibalihe and Xuchang buy Falun Gong practitioners from other labor camps for 800 RMB each (almost $100 US), and force them to work day and night. Many have been tortured to death as part of a "reeducation" program that aims to crush their spiritual beliefs.

The labor camps are located in Henan Province, where hair products are the number one export. Henan Rebecca describes itself as "the largest hair product company in China and one of the biggest in the world," including the U.S. Its wigs and other products are sold worldwide under many brand names, including Shake-N-Go Hair and Royal Imex, Inc.

Company officials have denied using followers of the banned spiritual movement as slave labor.

A source in China who is familiar with forced labor contracts told the FDI: "Many of these wig product factories don't hire a lot of employees outright." Instead, they rely heavily on the slave labor of detainees in forced labor camps, jails and detention centers, including many illegally detained Falun Gong practitioners."

According to the FDI report, the No. 2 Shibalihe Female Labor Camp, located in Henan's Zhenzhou City, was assigned a new director in May 2003. After arriving at the position, Qu Shuangcai -- previously the head of the No. 3 Xuchang City Labor Camp -- introduced torture methods from his former labor camp in an effort to force Falun Gong practitioners to renounce their belief system. Within several months, at least three practitioners died of this torture, including Zhang Yali, an accountant in her thirties.

Sources say Qu also signed a production contract with Henan Rebecca and began manufacturing hair products for export. Qu's former labor camp also manufactures hair products for the same purpose.

"A while back, when the labor camp was short of funding and was about to be shut down, many Falun Gong practitioners became available," Shen Jianwei, a guard at the Xuchang camp, told the FDI. "The government allocated 20,000 Yuan to 'reform' each practitioner. The labor camp used eight million Yuan of this government funding to construct residential buildings to encourage the guards to persecute these practitioners."

Currently, the labor camp is buying Falun Gong practitioners from other places as slaves to increase production volume. Sources familiar with the Xuchang camp state that prisoners are forced to work overtime, day and night, under high-pressure supervision. If prisoners make a slight mistake, they are beaten by the guards.

Falun Gong practitioners at the camp have received a heightened workload and those who are not able to complete the work on time are deprived of sleep, forced to stand against the wall and have had their sentences extended. Two young, male Falun Gong practitioners, Li Jian and Yao Sanzhong were tortured to death at the Xuchang camp.

The Xuchang labor camp was awarded the "National Civilized Work Unit" citation from the Central Politics and Law Committee's "6-10 Office, "and the Labor Camp Bureau. The 6-10 Office is a secretive organization directed and empowered by former Chinese President Jiang Zemin to eliminate Falun Gong in China. The award applauded the treatment of Falun Gong practitioners imprisoned at the camp.

The FDI report also describes the torture methods used in these camps, including one technique in which guards tie practitioners' arms behind their backs in a straight jacket. According to an eyewitness account, the arms are then raised over the shoulders to the chest and the victims suffer broken arms, torn tendons, as well as dislocated shoulders, wrists, and elbows. Other forms of torture include tying practitioners' and hanging them upside down from the windows; and gagging practitioners' mouths with cloth and placing earphones to drill anti-Falun Gong propaganda into their minds. The spines of those who endure this torture for a long time are sometimes broken, killing the individual.