Eyewitness Accounts: Forced Labor Inside China's Labor Camps and Prisons
Suihua Forced Labor Camp Exports Contaminated Toothpicks
I was sentenced to Suihua Forced Labor Camp in Suihua City, Heilongjiang Province, in the spring of 2007 for practicing Falun Gong. In June 2007, all the inmates were forced sort and package a large quantity of toothpicks that had been accidentally soaked in sewage. The contaminated toothpicks mixed with feces and dirty toilet paper were already dried. We could hardly breathe with the stench of urine and feces. We were not even given any masks or gloves for protection. There were about 80 of us, but it took us nearly two weeks to finish the work.
The guards told us that the toothpicks had come from a factory in 2006. They were laid out on the floor of the workroom on the second floor. The third and fourth floors were prison cells that accommodated between 300 to 400 people. One day the toilet pipe in the workroom on the second floor level overflowed, but no one knew it. Sewage from several hundred people flowed out into the workroom to a depth of about a foot. The door of the workroom was shut tight, so nothing came out. They discovered the problem when they couldn't open the door to the workroom the next day. The toothpicks were moved to another building until they were dried out, and, in 2007, we were forced to process them.
I learned from a deputy captain in prison who had talked with the manufacturer that the toothpicks would be exported overseas from Dalian. There were two disciplinary staff members, Wang Hui and Hou Shicheng, who knew how the toothpicks ended up being soaked in urine and feces.
Some of the Falun Gong practitioners I knew who were subjected to forced labor were: Zhao Dezhi, Liu Hua, Lian Tao, Leng Chuanyu, Dong Xianghui, Bai Yufu, and Ge Zhenming.
Some of the regular inmates I knew who were subjected to forced labor were: Hou Shichen, Zhang Fengwu, Wang Hui, Han Fujiang, Wang Wei, Wang Shushan, Gao Yun, Wang Jianmin, Liu Qinyu, Xie Fuzhi, and Li Wanlong.
Guards involved in overseeing us: captain Zhen, deputy captain Liu Wei, disciplinary staff member Long Kuibin, branch team captain Lian Xing, branch team captain Li Chengchun, Li Xichun, Tian Zhizheng, Shi Jian, and Li Hongjiang.
Slave Labor Conditions in Jiujiang Forced Labor Camp in Jiujiang, Jiangxi Province
I am a Falun Gong practitioner in Duchang County, Jiangxi Province. I was once incarcerated in Jiujiang City Forced Labor Camp in Jiujiang, Jiangxi Province, also known as Majianlong Forced Labor Camp. I had to make merchandise for over 14 hours a day, and they kept increasing the daily quota. Falun Gong practitioners not only had to meet the daily quota but also had to produce additional merchandise forced upon us by inmates who were sent to watch us. If we failed to meet the daily quota, we were verbally and physically assaulted and deprived of sleep. The guards and other inmates tortured Falun Gong practitioners physically and psychologically. We even had to work overtime during all the holidays. I remember spending my Chinese New Year in a shabby workroom working like a slave.
The female inmates produced the famous "Paradise (Tiantang)" umbrella in China. The male inmates produced Christmas lights and the parts for quartz clocks. Falun Gong practitioners had to make at least 600 Christmas lights a day. Our fingers cracked and the wounds festered. The daily quota for clock parts was 900 a day, but sometimes it was raised to 1,000. We were not allowed to sleep until we finished. Overworking a person for long periods of time can lead to mental collapse. Those practitioners who refused to renounce their faith were subjected to even worse treatment.
Every time I think of the Christmas lights sold around the world, I cannot help but think of Falun Gong practitioners enslaved in a dark pit day and night. Paradise (Tiantang) umbrellas are exported around the world, but they were produced in a living hell that incarcerated Falun Gong practitioners. Inside quartz clocks there are parts ticking with the tears of Falun Gong practitioners.
Conditions in Xindian Women's Forced Labor in Xindian, Shanxi Province
Sixty Falun Gong practitioners were transferred from Beijing to Xindian Women's Forced Labor Camp in Xindian, Shanxi Province, between 2008 and 2010. They were mostly in their 50s and 60s, with some who were almost 70. Regardless of their age or physical condition, the guards forced these practitioners to produce merchandise daily. They had to work overtime sometimes, if the manufacturer was pushing for a deadline. Everyone had to meet a daily quota. Those who failed to meet the quota would have points deducted. Prison term reduction depended on the points earned.
While I was incarcerated in Xindian Women's Forced Labor Camp, I made the following merchandise:
1. Heavy cardboard boxes for Fenjiu Winery in Xinhuacun, Shanxi Province. Sealing the boxes was done using a strong glue that has to be kept warm and damp, so we had to keep the windows closed. The glue was highly toxic, and it was suffocating in the workroom.
2. We had to make Christmas lights before Christmas every year. We had to put hair-fine copper wires through small holes in the lights. It was very hard on our eyes. Older people had difficulty meeting the daily quota. The colorful light bulbs were painted with toxic paint.
3. Folding Chinese New Year "spring couplets." (A couplet is two lines of poetry written on a scroll. They follow certain rules in Chinese literature and are usually seen on doors leading to people's homes or as hanging scrolls in an interior. The most popular type of couplet is the spring couplet used as a New Year decoration and expresses happy and hopeful thoughts for the coming year.) They were produced as gifts from businesses to clients. Each box of spring couplets was so heavy that it took three to four people to carry it. It was labor-intensive work that left everyone's back and legs sore for days.
4. I also had to fold a type of paper bag that required a strong glue to hold it together.
5. I had to produce an electronic part using tweezers. This work was very hard on the eyes.
All the work we had to do was the kind of work that no one would do of their own free will unless it was for an incredibly high wage. The materials we had to use were toxic and very harmful to one's health. The prison guards that supervised the work often wore gas masks to protect themselves. Some of us often felt dizzy and nauseated and sometimes even passed out. Even though we reacted adversely to the harmful environment, we were not allowed to go out for fresh air without the permission of the guards. We had to immediately resume work when we returned. No matter how much we did, we never got a penny. It was alleged that, while most of the revenue from such contracts went to the labor camps, a small portion was given to the guards as a bonus.
Jilin Prison, an Underground Factory that Enslaves Falun Gong Practitioners
Jilin Prison is a province-level prison divided into 11 sections. Each section can accommodate several hundred inmates. Sometimes there were as many as 3,000 to 4,000 inmates in Jilin Prison. These inmates are actually slaves that are forced to create revenue for the prison. They have to get up at 6 a.m. every day. They start working at 7 a.m. and finish at 7 p.m. The prison is an underground factory that uses its inmates as slaves.
Two large workrooms in Sections 1 and 2 are designated to produce apparel. About 400 to 500 inmates work in the two terribly dusty workrooms. The workrooms are dusty because of the cotton apparel they make. Section 3 produces plastic and steel windows. Section 4 produces furniture and fish tanks. Section 5 is a welding shop for highway equipment. Section 6 is a welding shop for electronic components. Section 7 is a workshop for car parts and machine parts. Section 8 does the same thing as Section 5. Section 9 is responsible for raising pigs for prison food, as well as maintaining machinery, plumbing, and heating. Section 10 is responsible for cooking, education, and printing. Section 11 accommodates the old, sick and disable inmates. There are many inmates there with infectious diseases such as TB, but they are put to work as well. They work on producing bags, including bags for food and dried fruit.
For the sake of profits, Jilin Prison ignores the health of both the inmates and those that use these goods outside the prison.