(Minghui.org) Recently, a reporter from Sunday Times in western Australia wanted to verify information he had received about Falun Gong practitioners in China being forced to perform slave labor to make products for Western countries. Two local practitioners relayed their firsthand experiences to him.

Slave Labor in Shanghai No. 1 and No. 3 Forced Labor Camps

Mr. Zhao is now living in western Australia. He started practicing Falun Gong in 1996. From 2001 to 2003, he was detained in the Shanghai No. 1 Forced Labor Camp and No. 3 Forced Labor Camp, where he suffered torture and was forced to perform slave labor. Mr. Zhao said he produced a lot of things for export, including cotton toys, power strips, energy-saving lamps of 110 watts, Christmas decorating lights, and all kinds of men's and women's shirts, suits, and other clothes.

Mr. Zhao said that the length of work time in off-season and peak season was different. During off-season, detainees were forced to start work early every day but usually ended before 6 p.m. During peak season, working hours were very long. During rush workload, detainees were forced to start work before 6 a.m. They then had breakfast at 6 a.m. After breakfast, they continued to work throughout the morning. Everyone was allowed to use the restroom only once in the morning.

During lunch time, hundreds of detainees in several squadrons took turns to have lunch. The lunch break was only a little over 10 minutes. If not finished, no other chance to eat was allowed. In the afternoon, detainees were again only allowed to use the restroom once.

The work location consisted of a big workshop of 50 meters long and 20-30 meters wide. Suit production was operated like a pipeline. During production, if one slowed down, he would be beaten or tortured. During production of Christmas decorating lights, detainees were forced to work even after going back to prison cells. Some had to work till after midnight to finish their assigned workload. Detainees' hands were often bruised or injured when making lights and balls.

Slave Labor in Gaoqiao and Xiangcheng Detention Centers

Ms. Zhang lives in her daughter's home in Perth, Australia. On June 30, 2001, when she was still in China, 7 to 8 police officers entered her home and illegally arrested her for practicing Falun Gong. They placed her in the Gaoqiao Detention Center of Xuchang City, Henan Province, where she was forced to do slave labor to make products for export.

Ms. Zhang said: “Initially, we were forced to make wigs. Everyone needed to do 5 wigs each day. If one could not finish, one would be beaten. The daily working hours lasted for up to 14 hours, which was considered a fairly light workload. There were other Falun Gong practitioners detained in the center. They were forced to make belts for the Japanese kimono and often had to work overnight.”

Ms. Zhang continued: “When I was imprisoned in the Xiangcheng Detention Center, I was forced to do lots of work to make neon lights and other things for export. The labels were in English. Our daily meals were 1 bun for breakfast, 1 bun for supper and half-cooked noodles for lunch. There were no vegetables. Sometimes there were dead bugs or mice in the noodle soup. There was no bed provided for sleep. If you wanted to eat something a little better, you had to ask the labor camp staff to buy it. When they sold items to us, they usually charged us 3 times more than the price paid.”

Labor Camps Profit from Illegally Detained Falun Gong Practitioners

According to the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG), Henan Rebecca Hair Products Co., Ltd. in Xuchang City, the first Sino-U.S. joint venture in the hair product industry and the biggest company in the hair industry in China, has used forced labor camps, prisons, and detention centers to make profit through slave labor.

Large companies rely on low-cost Chinese products for export, and labor camps make profit by forcing unlawfully detained Falun Gong practitioners to do slave labor. In order to earn greater profits, the No. 3 Forced Labor Camp in Henan Province even bought Falun Gong practitioners from other labor camps at 800 yuan each.

Through practitioners' efforts, Australians have become more and more concerned about the plight of Falun Gong practitioners in China, and the media's growing interest in such stories is just one reflection of this. At practitioners' events, people have expressed appreciation for practitioners' efforts to raise awareness about the persecution in China. Some business owners wanted to know more, so that they could ensure the goods they get from China are made through legitimate means.