From Toothpicks to Chopsticks: Overview of Products Made in China's Labor Camps (Part 2)
(Minghui.org) (Continued from Part 1) Falun Gong (aka Falun Dafa) is a spiritual practice whose adherents follow the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance. Since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) began to persecute Falun Gong in July 1999, many practitioners have been arrested and detained.
After arriving at the detention facilities and prisons, many practitioners were exploited as free labor and had to work from 12 to 19 hours each day. The products they made include toothpicks, chopsticks, candies, cookies, and sanitary pads. Some of the products were exported overseas.
Apart from the high-quota assignments, the detainees, aged between 16 and 70, were often deprived of sleep and basic necessities. Many also became ill due to the unhygienic and toxic working environment.
Below is an overview of different products made in various labor camps in China, and how the guards persecute Falun Gong practitioners for remaining firm to their faith.
Part 1 covers facilities in Heilongjiang Province.Part 2 covers facilities in Liaoning Province and Jilin Province.Part 3 covers other regions.
Liaoning Women's Prison
The Liaoning Women's Prison has a large-scale clothing factory that consists of four levels. The factory produces large amounts of clothes throughout the year for export. No.1 Division makes police clothes, No. 5 Division makes branded clothes, and inmates in the No. 7 Division often have to work overtime to make clothes for export. These divisions make a variety of clothes of different brands for many manufacturers and businesses. They also make uniforms for Harbin railway electrical services and railway works.
In the prison, bonuses for the guards are tied to production performance. Therefore, guards in every section try their best to make Falun Gong practitioners and other prisoners work harder. The raw materials of many labor camp products are hazardous, and the work conditions are very poor.
For example, when prisoners manually make cotton swabs, they may do the work without having washed their hands. They may have just visited the restroom or have contagious diseases. However, they still make toothpick bags, chopstick bags, and bread bags all day long.
Below is a partial list of labor camp products manufactured in Liaoning Province Women's Prison in recent years:
“Holiland” (Hao Li Lai) cake package boxes, bread bags, and hamburger boxes are manufactured for the Taoli Food Company in Shenyang City. Food, drug, shoe, and cosmetic boxes are made for other brands.
“Rongfa” military clothes are produced by the Rongfa Clothing Factory in Jilin Province. The prison mainly manufactures different types of police uniforms, military raincoats, and cotton winter jackets.
Clothes for the Feilong (Chinese name for the Japanese company) Company that exports to Japan and South Korea. Feilong trousers are manufactured for men.
Export apparel for Baijiahao Clothes in Shanghai. The brand is Basic House.
Cotton swabs for the Tianjie Company in Shenyang City. Shenyang Tianjie Health Care Products Co., Ltd. exports its products to the USA, Europe, Israel, Australia, South Korea, and others.
Export apparel for the Liaoyang Guanglin Garments Enterprises Group. Guanglin's apparel export to Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Panama, USA, UK, and Canada.
Japanese and South Korean clothes for the Fushun Yinhe Apparel Factory. The company is located at 11 Leifeng Road West, Wanghua District, Fushun City, Liaoning Province.
The prison produces all kinds of lingerie. It also manufactures export apparel for the Dalian Foreign Trade and the Dandong Foreign Trade companies.
The Tenth Prison Section manufactures clothes for the Shenyang Zhonghe Clothing Co., Ltd. The company's onsite manager at the prison has the last name of Wang. The Tenth Prison Section also works for the Dandong Yuxin Clothing Factory. The company's manager's surname is Jiang.
“Bangbang” brand trousers for the Shenyang Anna Garment Group exports to South Korea, Japan, Europe, and the Americas.
Falun Gong practitioners are held in the No. 12 Intensive Training and Correction Division, No. 13 Division, the old and disabled Division, hospitals, and solitary confinement cells. They had to produce: “Mengniu” milk cartons, “Holiland” cake boxes, and all kinds of bags: for bread; for food for hotels; for chopsticks and toothpicks; for seafood; for cosmetics; for hospital medical records for “Meinian Onehealth;” for driver's licenses and photos; to hold money for “China Construction Bank,” “Industrial and Commercial Bank of China,” “China CITIC Bank,” etc.; for “Sunbo;” for hotel room cards; for various credit cards; for expired soap; for heart-shaped pendants German crafts for export; and various gift bags.
Zhangshi Forced Labor Camp and Shenxin Forced Labor Camp in Shenyang City, Liaoning Province
The Shenyang Zhangshi Forced Labor Camp detains male Falun Gong practitioners. The products manufactured their include combs, chopsticks, false eyelashes, cooking grids for grills, neon light bulbs, and other items. The labor camp partners with the Shenyang Haiwei Jewelry Co., Ltd. to produce combs. The products are exported to over 10 countries including Japan, the USA, and many countries in Europe. The Haiwei Company provides raw materials and assembly. The Zhangshi Forced Labor Camp forces Falun Gong practitioners, and other detainees to make the heads of combs and the packaging boxes. The fumes from the glue for the packaging boxes are hard on the respiratory system, and the other production materials are toxic to humans.
Mr. Li Xiaoyuan, a practitioner, was an excellent mechanic at the First Mold Factory of the Shenyang Aircraft Cooperation. He was widely respected by his colleagues. However, before the 2002 Chinese New Year, he was arrested and taken to the Shenyang Zhangshi Forced Labor Camp.
Mr. Li experienced torture there, including being stripped naked, hung from an iron gate and brutally beaten, shocked with electric batons, and being frozen in an ice room. Because he persevered in his belief in Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, the police detained him with convicts and forced him to perform hard labor.
Mr. Li refused to take part in the forced labor. Guard Yang Shu and prisoners shocked him with 120,000-volt electric batons on April 25, 2002. He was severely beaten and deprived of sleep. The torture lasted for four days. Mr. Li was black and blue all over, and his body was swollen. He could not walk on his own and had to use a wheelchair to go to the bathroom. During May and June, Mr. Li was secretly transferred to the Liaoning Guanshan Forced Labor Camp, where he died from abuse on November 9, 2003. He was 46 years old.
Products manufactured in the Shenyang Shenxin Forced Labor Camp include western holiday items, colorful candles, foam lambs, pigeons, eagles, skeletons, balls, and stars, golden “fortune” characters, and chopsticks.
Dalian Forced Labor Camp in Liaoning Province
Any unfinished work had to be completed after the regular work hours ended and evening roll call had been called, and usually lasted until 9 or 10 p.m. or even until midnight. Sleep was not permitted if the quota was not met. Rushing through the task was used as an excuse to produce extra work, including packing toothpicks, chopsticks, cotton swabs, and so on.
An elderly practitioner who shouted “Falun Dafa is good” in the lobby of the workshop area was quickly dragged to a solitary confinement cell by police and inmates. The police cursed at the practitioner and said, “Die quickly.” The police then removed her high heels and started hitting the practitioner's head, causing bruises.
Another practitioner had her arm broken by the police and inmates. She was not provided any treatment and made to work. She had to work with one hand and was still scolded for being slow. A practitioner was unable to walk after being beaten and had to crawl to the restroom. Some practitioners suffered from mental disorders as a result of the torture.
Yaojia Detention Center of Dalian City, Liaoning Province
Guo Jufeng, a practitioner now living in Germany, wrote in a Minghui website article, “Sleepless on China's Mid-Autumn Festival -- Mourning for Falun Dafa Practitioner Feng Gang”:
I met Feng Gang 10 years ago. After the CCP began its suppression of Falun Gong in 1999, I went to Beijing to appeal for justice for Falun Gong in October 1999. I was arrested and detained at the Yaojia Detention Center administrative section in Dalian City, Liaoning Province. There were three cells in the administrative section, which were used to detain practitioners. The educational attainment of these practitioners was very high. There were doctors, people with master's degrees, university students, teachers, and many others. They were arrested for their firm belief in Falun Gong.
Several days later, a practitioner was transferred in. He was arrested on trumped-up criminal charges. His name was Feng Gang, in his 30s, of a strong and healthy constitution and a lecturer at Dalian Aquatic Product Institute. He also went to Beijing and was arrested in a school near Beijing Yuanmingyuan, the Old Summer Palace. He had been detained on criminal charges in a special cell for such inmates for over two months. He recounted that that cell was horrible. The inmates were criminals. They had to assemble toothpick packages daily. The prison head punished the prisoners brutally. He pushed toothpicks into their heads, and when they were taken out, the blood ran down their faces.
Fushun City Detention Center in Liaoning Province
A 30 square meters cell in Fushun City Detention Center accommodates about 25 people. Everyone has to lie on their sides to sleep. In the morning, everyone would be forced to pack toothpicks, sew or glue petals, fold 7,000 to 8,000 disposable pants used for bathing. In order to complete the tasks, the detainees had no time to eat their dinner.
The detention center produced hats and toothpicks in 2012.
The inmates in the detention centers were angry at being forced to work, but did not dare to voice their displeasure. Hence, they took their anger out on the toothpicks. After getting up at 6 a.m., some would start work without washing their faces or hands. The toothpicks were put on the ground regardless of the cleanliness. Some inmates rubbed the toothpicks with their athlete's foot before throwing them back into the pile. There were others who put the toothpicks in their mouths before putting them back.
As the cell holds 20 to 34 people, many were infected with contagious diseases, such as syphilis, hepatitis, tuberculosis, scabies, and athlete's foot. Those who did not have scabies would develop them after sleeping beside those who had it. Some had their scabies cured after putting on ointment but would get infected again when they were arranged to sleep beside those suffering from it.
Practitioners who resisted doing the labor work were often cursed at. Those who would go on a hunger strike were force-fed, and practitioner Zou Guirong was persecuted to death in that camp.
Heizuizi Labor Camp in Changchun City, Jilin Province
The Labor Bureau regulations state that one works for 6-1/2 hours a day, but those detained in Heizuizi Labor Camp are forced to work at least 12 hours a day. Every team produced different products – clothes, birds, human figurines, butterflies, folding papers.
The butterflies came from a factory in the old airport in Changchun City. All the raw materials used are harmful to the body, yet those working on these products are not provided with any protective gear. Thus, many developed various eye and skin diseases and had irritation on their head, face, and skin. The butterflies are exported to foreign airports and used as garlands for fast food boxes. Many things used for decorative or other purposes are made here. For example, the fast-food boxes are sold to tourists at Changchun Longjia Airport and Yanji Airport Airport. Two packs of toothpicks are used in some large hotels in Changchun City, and pharmaceutical advertisements for pharmaceutical factories.
The four teams in Heizuizi Labor Camp were forced to pack toothpicks, cigarettes, postal advertisements, craft birds, owls, butterflies, and candies (without washing their hands).
Changchun No. 3 Detention Center in Jilin Province
The Changchun No. 3 Detention Center used slave labor to produce toothpicks that are exported to the United States. One end of the toothpick is glued with a ribbon, and the ribbons are of four colors. The outer packaging of the box is written in English: toothpicks for dining, 1,000 per box. The guard said that foreigners used it to eat fruit. The glue on the sticky color strips is poisonous, thus prisoners often get blisters on their faces and hands. The entire production process of toothpicks is done in the cell. The 20 square meter cells accommodate 35 to 40 people. Everything, eating, sleeping, and going to the restroom are all done in the cell.
The sanitary conditions at the detention center's packaging site were extremely poor. There was dust, trash, and toxic materials everywhere. Many prisoners never wash their hands after going to the restroom. The detention center allowed prisoners to take a bath once a month. Thus, many prisoners have severe scabies due to poor sanitary conditions. The pustules and pus caused the whole body to itch terribly. In order to complete the high quota tasks, the inmates would scratch their scabies and continue working without washing their hands. Some prisoners suffer from tuberculosis, hepatitis, and sexually transmitted diseases.
To work, the inmates sit on a wooden plank every day from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and sometimes until midnight. If the quota has not been met, the inmates, be they practitioners or other inmates, had to line up to be hit in the mouth with shoes. A practitioner recalled that he was always tired – sometimes to the point of collapse. He was forced to engage in high-intensity slavery every day without getting any compensation.
Jilin City No. 1 Detention Center, Liaoyuan Detention Center, Meihekou City Detention Center, Baishan City Detention Center, Liuhe County Detention Center, and Tonghua Detention Center are all involved in making these toothpicks.
Tonghua City Detention Center in Jilin Province
Jilin Tonghua City Detention Center has a total of about 20 prison cells. Each cell is 15 to 20 square meters and holds 16 to 20 people, with each person occupying less than one square meter of floor space. Everything from eating to using the restroom is done in the cell. The detainees had to lie on their sides to sleep. During the summer, there are flies, mosquitoes and mice. The place was extremely dirty. Some people could not wash their faces for more than 20 days, let alone take a shower. Some people had lice, scabies, and tuberculosis.
The detention center used the prisoner's cheap labor to sell toothpicks in order to make money. Those who could not meet the quota would not be allowed to sleep.
The beautiful small umbrellas toothpicks out on fruit plates used in entertainment venues such as major hotels, luxury hotels, coffee shops, etc. are all made by prisoners.
The detention center has very poor sanitary conditions. Prisoners do not wash their hands after using the restroom (there is no time to wash the hands). The cell leader would extort the prisoners' personal belongings, thus many do not have toilet paper or soap to use. They would continue to work after using the restroom.
A small cell accommodates up to 6 people, and a big cell holds over 20 people. The detainees are only allowed to wash at the end of the year, and only those whom the cell leader or guards take a fancy to are allowed to wash their clothes. Those detained smelled, and had lice. Hair and dead skin cells are found on the planks. What kind of hygiene indicators can a toothpick produced under such unsanitary conditions achieve? The high-end hotels use these toothpicks for their customers, and the detention center is always able to get toothpick work every year.
Falun Gong practitioners and prisoners will be beaten and abused if they fail to complete their assigned quota.
Changliu Detention Center of Tonghua City, Jilin Province
The detention center amasses huge profits illegally from making and exporting toothpicks. They achieve this by minimizing the living cost of the inmates, cramping over 30 people in a cell of 28 square meters. They live in inhumane, unsanitary conditions. On hot summer days, inmates wear only shorts (no tops), sweat, and make the toothpicks while sitting on the floor. The cell is filled with pungent smells. Toothpicks for export are made in such an environment.
Each detention cell is assigned a work quota. If the quota is not met, no one is allowed to sleep. The cell leaders beat those inmates who cannot meet their quotas. Every day each inmate is given two buns and two bowls of vegetable soup without any oil. Work starts from when the sun comes up and continued until late after midnight. The inmates' physical and mental health is damaged due to the hard manual labor, day in and day out.
After arriving in prison, people can meet the daily quota. But gradually the aged inmates or inmates with poor health cannot keep up. Then the cell leaders will beat them relentlessly, as well as deprive them of sleep. If the quota is still not met, the inmates will be stripped and whipped every day with wood sticks as wide as a thumb and one-and-a-half feet long. The punishment is meant to be a warning to others. To avoid being beaten, some inmates give up their sleep or bathing time. Due to the lack of sanitation, the workplace is filled with fleas and some inmates have blisters. This is the place where the "finest" toothpicks are produced and these are the people who make the products.
(To be continued)