Forced Labour Camps – Living Hells of China

It is a well-established fact that the markets in every other country in the world are inundated with Chinese products. It is also well known that the reason for this phenomenon is the low cost at which these products can be procured. Here, in India too, within the last decade we see that the Chinese products occupy the major part of the market. Even the traditional Indian goods are made to order in Chinese factories, making the indigenous industries quietly vanish.

What we need to protest against is not only the unemployment and poverty created by this trend, but also the ethical questions involving the origin of these products from China.

As David Kilgour, former MP of Canada, puts it, “What many of us oppose is unfair trade, which, in one of its worst abuses, involves the export of products made by forced labour.”

A large network of labour camps for prisoners exist in China since the 1950s though not prevalently known outside. Known as Laogai in Chinese, these labour camps have living conditions similar to concentration camps of the Nazis during the Holocaust. Using forced hard labour as a form of torture on the prisoners, these Laogais are essentially living hells. Once sent to these camps, a prisoner could be held for up to four years without any form of trial or legal support. No appeal is possible. ( The Chinese Regime calls these Laogai camps as “Re-education through Labour” camps.

Ever since the spiritual practice of Falun Gong had been outlawed in 1999, the practitioners of this faith have become an easy target to serve at these labour camps. It is estimated that 70% of the inmates of the Laogai are Falun Gong adherents. As of now several hundred thousands of Falun Gong practitioners languish in labour camps.

Liu Wei, a Falun Gong practitioner, who finally managed to escape China and now a resident of Germany, gave a complete account of the conditions in a Laogai. Made to work for 18 to 20 hours per day, the prisoners will be deprived of sleep and food to work nonstop for 48 to 56 hours as a punishment, if any protests were made or target not reached. Many other forms of tortures like beating with electric batons, made to stand on ice for several days, force-feeding of psychiatric drugs etc. are inflicted on the inmates for any disobedience.

Inmates are forced to make a wide range of consumer products meant for export. In a south Beijing facility, Liu, until January 2003, was compelled to package 7000-10,000 chopsticks daily in filthy conditions and for a period to knit one wool sweater every three days even when she suffered serious cuts to her fingers by the sewing needles.

Dr. Charles Lee, now in United States as a professor, was made to serve for four years in labour camps in China, making plastic Christmas trees, toys, lights and other gift items in very poor living conditions as a penalty for practicing Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance.

After suffering persecution in labour camps, Zhang Kunlung, Professor of Art in Canada today, expresses the anguish and cruelty at these camps through his paintings and sculptures. These art works also bring out the dignity of the Falun Gong practitioners.

In December 2012, Julie Keith, from Oregon, USA opened a Halloween gift box to find a letter from a Falun Gong practitioner trapped in the Masanjia Labour Camp in China, seeking for rescue. This led to the U.S. Congressional Committee taking up the issue. Watch the following for more information:

So this explains the secret of the Communist Regime making great profits while selling goods so cheap.

In addition to resulting in a loss of livelihood for many workers in third world countries, it involves the cruel practice of inhuman Laogai system on the prisoners of conscience.

The surplus profits made from labour camps go towards the expenses of Chinese Military Forces and Espionage.

How many of us will now feel like buying cheap Chinese products? Human-rights conscious organizations in India will have to take up this issue and prevent these products finding its way into India.