Special Series: China's Brutal Labor Camps, Part 1





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Published on Sep 24, 2008

Today we begin a special series on the shocking conditions within China's "re-education through labor" camps. Now, with cell phone camera footage that has just been smuggled out of China, the international community is being given a rare glimpse of life within these camps.

This is Masanjia Labor Camp, also referred to as the Ideology Education School of Liaoning Province. Practitioners of the Falun Gong spiritual practice as well as house Christians are held here, often without trial or formal sentencing.

Forced labor is one of the tactics used here to reform what the Communist Party considers improper political or spiritual beliefs. Prisoners at Masanjia often work from 5am to midnight. Sometimes, they're forced to work through the night without sleep. If they are given a chance to rest during the day, it's on the factory floor.

Mealtime means a few scraps of cornbread, and maybe some congee or a tiny portion of vegetables. Then it's back to work.

In this footage, eight Chinese prisoners can be seen straightening electrical components called diodes. Not shown here is some of the other work they're forced to do, including manufacturing Halloween decorations—like skulls and plastic tombstones—for export to the United States. Some prisoners have to handle toxic substances without protective gear, causing itching, throat pain, and lung problems over time.

In this place, not every prisoner is able to survive the conditions.

Mr. Dong Chen was a Christian from Fuxin city in Liaoning Province. Because of his affiliation with an underground church, he was sentenced to two years of re-education through labor. As told by his fellow prisoners, in December of 2007 he became severely ill with high blood pressure, and was sent home to be hospitalized. But after a week, his family could no longer afford medical treatment, so Dong was taken back to Masanjia Labor Camp and resumed his heavy workload. On the afternoon of May 25, 2008, he vomited and lost consciousness. Prison guards ignored him for several hours, until he died at around 9pm. He was 56. Labor camp officials later told Dong's family that he had died from natural causes.

This is just one of many examples of life and death within China's labor camps. Other such camps are scattered throughout China. Although it's impossible to get an accurate official count of how many prisoners are being held in these camps, human rights groups estimate it's in the tens of thousands or more.

Be sure to stay tuned over the coming weeks as NTD and its media partner, The Epoch Times, continue this in-depth series on the secret world of China's labor camps.


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