[QODLink]
Slavery: A 21st Century Evil
Prison slaves
China is the world's factory, but does a dark secret lurk behind this apparent success story?
Last Modified: 25 Mar 2012 07:58

Once an isolationist communist state, over the last 20 years China has become the world's biggest exporter of consumer goods. But behind this apparent success story is a dark secret - millions of men and women locked up in prisons and forced into intensive manual labour.

"We were not paid at all, we were forced. If anyone refused to work, they would be beaten, some people were beaten to death."

Charles Lee, former prison inmate

China has the biggest penal colony in the world - a top secret network of more than 1,000 slave labour prisons and camps known collectively as "The Laogai". And the use of the inmates of these prisons - in what some experts call "state sponsored slavery" - has been credited with contributing to the country's economic boom.

In this episode, former inmates, many of whom were imprisoned for political or religious dissidence without trial, recount their daily struggles and suffering in the "dark and bitter" factories where sleep was a privilege. 

Charles Lee spent three years imprisoned for religious dissidence. He says: "For a year they tried to brainwash me, trying to force me to give up my practice of Falun Gong. They figured me out ... so they changed their strategy to force me to feel like a criminal ... because, according to their theory, a prisoner should be reformed through labour .... So they forced me to do slave labour."

 


Click here for more on the series.
Source:
Al Jazeera
Topics in this article
People
Country
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
Anti-government secrecy organisation struggling for relevance without Julian Assange at the helm.
After decades of overfishing, Japan is taking aim at increasing the number of bluefin tuna in the ocean.
Chinese scientists are designing a particle-smashing collider so massive it could encircle a city.
Critics say the government is going full-steam ahead on economic recovery at the expense of human rights.
Spirits are high in Scotland's 'Whisky Capital of the World' with one distillery thirsty for independence.
join our mailing list