From Toothpicks to Chopsticks: Overview of Products Made in China's Labor Camps (Part 3)
(Minghui.org) (Continued from Part 2) 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 forced to work between 12 and 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 environments.
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 in their faith.
CASES IN OTHER REGIONS
Yunnan Women's Forced Labor Camp
A practitioner who was once held at the Yunnan's Women's Forced Labor Camp told a guard that she refused to make cookies in the camp.
The guard was surprised and asked why.
“Would you buy such cookies?” the practitioner asked.
The guard stayed silent.
The practitioner continued, “You see bags of flour piled on the dirt floor. The cookie machine is full of dirt, and so is the mixer. Could cookies made like this be good for you? Workers are only allowed to go to the restroom three times a day without special permission. The restroom is dirty, with trash covering the floor, and has a bad smell. There are no towels, and everyone wipes their hands on their apron. Would you eat such cookies? I am a Falun Gong practitioner. I cultivate Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance and want to be a good person. I can’t do things that harm people.”
Prisons and Labor Camps in Shanghai, Guizhou, and Xinjiang
Several million modern slave laborers, in more than 1,000 prisons and forced labor camps in China, work day and night under hazardous conditions. Laborers who become infected with tuberculosis, skin diseases, hepatitis, and venereal diseases are not isolated and receive no treatment. They are forced to continue to work.
Their products include toys, bedding, fashionable clothing, underwear, cotton balls, toothpicks, single-use chopsticks, and so on. Products made by forced labor are made from toxic materials or carry viruses. These poor-quality, unsanitary products are exported around the world and have entered millions of homes.
Shanghai's Tilanqiao Prison is called “a hundred-year-old prison.” Its Fourth Ward is a clothing export factory enclosed by tall walls and electrified wires. Externally called the “Shenjiang Clothing Factory,” it receives orders directly from exporters in Shanghai and produces many kinds of knitted clothing, as well as shirts and underwear. According to the Shanghai Prison Administration Bureau and the Forced Labor Bureau's internal newspaper, Inside and Outside the Wall, the factory imported advanced equipment and had the ability to produce 400,000 items of clothing every year. In 2005, the annual revenue was 5.88 million yuan and the profit was 4.84 million yuan.
The Second Division of Zhongba Women's Forced Labor Camp in Guizhou Province has a workshop that specializes in making safety gloves. All the inside layers are made from contaminated, discarded cloth recycled from funeral homes, hospitals and dumps. These materials are directly reused, untreated, despite being full of bloodstains, dirt and mildew. Death notices are often seen among the fabric. The workshop has a foul odor, and flies cover the floor, walls and ceiling.
The detainees are not given any protective gear. Many detainees in the Second Division suffer from ulcerated sores on their hands and feet that ooze pus. Some people's infections leave gaping holes on their feet and are severe enough to expose the bone.
Some criminals in the prison workshop of the Tianshan Wooltex Stock Corporation, Ltd. in Xinjiang intentionally wipe the filthiest things on the sweaters as a form of revenge. Because the sweaters are processed by ironing, the filth and blood are not usually visible after the final production step. Some inmates in plush toy workshops in Shanghai labor camps and prisons also vented their resentment onto the products they were making, and some even spit into the inside of the toys.
Torture of Falun Gong Practitioners
Many Falun Gong practitioners hold hunger strikes to protest the persecution. For example, Mr. Qu Yanlai, top prize winner of the Chinese National Olympics Chemistry Contest and gold medalist of the Chinese National Olympics Math Contest, went on a hunger strike from his first day of prison and continued for almost five years.
The guards force-fed Mr. Qu in tortuous ways. They purposely poked around inside Mr. Qu's stomach with a plastic feeding tube and caused his stomach to bleed for over four months. After this torture, the guards dragged him up and down concrete stairs, scraping the skin and flesh off his legs until his bones were exposed.
Practitioners Xiong Wenqi and Du Yan were tied up to beds for long periods of time and force-fed. As a result, their esophagi bled and their arm and leg muscles atrophied.
Zhang Yiming was forced to stand with a chamber pot on his head for a long time. The abusers also pushed his head into the chamber pot.
Practitioners who refused to be “transformed” or to perform labor in the Third Labor Camp of Shanghai City were transferred to Qingpu Hospital. Lu Xingguo was beaten to death an hour after arrival in October 2003. His body was disfigured, he had no skin on his lips or teeth in his mouth, and his neck was covered in blood. Guo Jinfu was beaten with five electric batons at the same time until he lost control of his bladder and bowels.
Guards are given incentives for persecuting practitioners: they could receive 4,000 yuan when they “transform” a practitioner or force the practitioner to write a guarantee statement renouncing Falun Gong. Guards who could “transform” three or four practitioners in a year would be awarded a house and a promotion. As a result, the guards use all kind of means to persecute practitioners. They also promise term and work reductions to instigate inmates to monitor and torture practitioners.
San'an Village Detention Center in Xi'an City
Detainees at the San'an Village Detention Center get up at 6.30 a.m. every day. start to work after breakfast, and continue working until after 10.30 p.m. They are forced to work for 15 to 16 hours a day and even more hours if they are unable to meet the assigned quotas. For example, a four-to-five-meter-long cross-stitched hand-sewn woolen rug had to be completed in half a month. There was no heat or stove in the cell during winter, and some detainees’ hands were frozen and oozed pus and blood. Nevertheless, detainees still had to meet their quotas every day.
Shaanxi Women's Labor Camp
Inmates at Shaanxi Women's Labor Camp get up at 6.30 a.m. every day, start working after breakfast, and continue to work until after 10 p.m. They have to work 14 to 15 hours a day and also work overtime if they cannot meet their quota. They make paper bags, remove cotton yarn, and pack disposable chopsticks and toothpicks for hotels. Before the products are packaged into small bags, they are put on a bed or the ground. The chopsticks and toothpicks get stepped on. Laborers include drug addicts suffering from scabies that ooze yellow pus.
A practitioner who was once held at the labor camp said she couldn't help feeling sick whenever she sees disposable chopsticks. She also recalled that the three meals at the labor camp consist of a bun and a spoonful of vegetables boiled in water. The vegetables had worms, flies, hair, and grass in it. The detainees are only allowed 30 minutes to eat their meals.
Hohhot Women's Labor Camp in Inner Mongolia
A practitioner once held at the Hohhot Women's Labor Camp recalled that she and other inmates had to process disposable chopsticks. To prevent sawdust from dirtying their clothes, they would put an apron on their knees first before packing these “disinfected” chopsticks into plastic bags. Some older chopsticks that had sat in the warehouse would have cat and mouse feces shaken off (the labor camp kept many cats).
In addition, the labor camp also processed “Telunsu” milk cartons, cashmere shawls, woolen sweaters, festive decorations, leather slippers, and beer jugs with Genghis Khan's face printed on it.
Shandong Women's Labor Camps
Shandong No. 2 Women's Labor Camp in Zibo City started producing baby clothes and electronic sensors in 2011.
The Shandong No. 1 Women's Labor Camp houses 400 to 500 people. The camp processes fishing wheel parts for a tackle factory in Weihai City. It also produces plastic fences and curtains for a factory in Qingdao City. “Langlang Education” in Shandong Province uses the cheap labor to pack textbooks.
In addition, the labor camp also packs bags for Shengmu milk, Huiyuan fruit juice, Yibahuo iced tea, Baotu spring wine, a Chinese brand of cell phones, and ejiao (an ingredient used in Chinese medicine). The oil and thinner used for making the bags produce a pungent smell.
The police in the labor camp said, “Don't think of walking out of the labor camp unless you have a terminal illness.”
Zhejiang Women's Prison
A variety of low-skill, repetitive, and time-consuming products are manufactured at this prison, including apparel, sweaters, rubber gloves, umbrellas, disposable chopsticks, spools of thread, toothpicks, decorative Chinese knots, and so on.
To produce the huge quantities demanded, one has to move quickly. Some inmates have suffered mental collapse as a result of the long-term forced labor, and some exhibit lethargy, seizures, and uncontrolled yelling or rage. The so-called high-grade chopsticks and toothpicks are packaged under poor hygienic conditions, often by barehanded inmates who have infectious diseases.
Related report:The Crimes Committed at Zhejiang Provincial Women's Prison
Xinkaipu Labor Camp of Changsha City, Hunan Province
Those detained in the Xinkaipu Labor Camp in Changsha City were made to produce envelopes, portfolio bags, optical discs, toothpicks, food boxes, and so on. These products are unhygienic. The workshop is located on the first floor, and detainees with AIDS are housed on the third floor. When these detainees are let out for a period of time every day, they would run to the workshops and start touching the products there. Some even put the toothpicks in their mouths or spit on them before putting them back.
Lanzhou City No. 1 Detention Center, Gansu Province
The Lanzhou City No. 1 Detention Center picks and washes lily bulbs. Washed lilies are collected by the factories at 5 p.m. to be baked into dried lily. The basin used for washing lilies is also used to wash other things. Many detainees told their family members not to buy dried lily or melon seeds.
After making the dried lily, the inmates had to crack the melon seeds using their teeth, causing dental injuries and inflammation of the lips. Their nails bled from peeling the seeds and became swollen. Those who could not meet their quota would have to pay or face torture.
The No. 6 Division is split into two group, with one group forced to make paper bags for chopsticks, napkins, toothpicks, and sometimes garlic.
Related report:Ms. Qi Lijun Recounts Ten Years of Persecution (Photo)
Wuhua Detention Center of Kunming City, Yunnan Province
Practitioner Wang Xiaohua wrote:
The detention center often takes in manual work and forces the detainees to work, such as picking dry fruit, vegetables, and nuts, They assemble paper boxes, pack toothpicks; pack candles; pack tea leaves, sanitary chopsticks, and so on. Detainees will be punished if they do not complete the daily quota. Of course, the detainees were not paid a cent. Having enough food was the most extravagant hope they had. One said, “Basically I was hungry and cold every second, and was not granted any human rights.”
Hebei Women's Prison and Labor Camp
Detainees in Hebei Women's Labor Camp were made to produce large quantities of chopsticks, portfolio bags, napkins, shower curtains, bath towels, bottle caps, food boxes, cotton swab, toothpicks, advertising stickers, medical gloves, and so on. They were not allowed to talk while working.
All boxes were sealed before being shipped out. In order to facilitate accountability, the boxes had the inmates' ID numbers printed on them. Shower curtains, shower caps and “Qinlaoda” bath towels from Shijiazhuang City were produced in Hebei Women's Labor Camp.
The main products made in Hebei Women's Prison were military uniforms, windbreakers, and police uniforms. The detainees had to get up at 6 a.m. and work until after midnight. Sometimes they had to work overtime for over a month at a time. On occasion, when the contract expired and the job was not finished, they were forced to work without sleep for two nights to get the work done.
The No. 15 Division, which was also a hospital, held AIDS patients. To earn more money, the hospital made these patients work on cotton swabs and toothpicks.
Some inmates committed suicide, including one in 2011 in the No. 9 Division. Another inmate who tried to commit suicide was rescued. An inmate from the No. 14 Division was beaten to death in January 2011; an inmate from No. 6 Division had a heart attack during the night and died. An inmate in the No. 11 Division hung herself, and another in No. 3 Division died after slamming herself against the wall in the confinement cell. When an inmate committed suicide, the prison would try to cover up the news by denying family visits.
The authorities in division always used violence on Falun Gong practitioners in order to brainwash them. When practitioner Ms. Liu Jinying, a former deputy secretary of the local Appeals Office in Laishui County, was detained in the prison, police officer Ge Shuguang ordered inmate Zuo Maomao to tape her eyelids, step on her toe nails, and grab her hair and slam her against the wall. Zuo also beat Ms. Liu's chest and twisted her nipples until they bled. Before Ms. Liu recovered, Zuo twisted her nipples again and caused them to bleed again.
Zuo also kicked Ms. Liu's legs with shoes on, and they became so swollen that Ms. Liu could not wear her pants. Zuo often beat Ms. Liu around the eyes and mouth with shoes until she bled and her face was black and blue. In addition to other abuses, Ms. Liu was also forced to stand on a stool as part of the “flying an airplane” torture.