Case study 7 - Sam (China, 2004)

Forced labour for the state

The Chinese government has banned a religious movement called Falun Gong since 1999. Many people who practise Falun Gong have been imprisoned in camps called "laogai", where they are made to do forced labour. There may be over 1,000 of these camps, where the prisoners are forced to work, making items that are then sold in shops in China and other countries.

Sam (China 2003)

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Sam was arrested for writing a letter to the Chinese government to protest about how they were treating the Falun Gong. He was sent to jail for almost two months, where he lived in terribly overcrowded conditions and was forced to work for no pay.

Sam's story

In prison, I was forced to work on export products such as toys and shopping bags without pay. The cell was only about 28 square metres in size, with 20 prisoners and one toilet inside. They slept and worked in the cell.

Sometimes we were forced to work until 2am to keep up with the schedule. They only provided two meals a day (you only have meat once a week). Although you are hungry, you still need to work more than 15 hours per day. The police used a wire whip to beat you if you did not do a good job or you could not keep up with the schedule.

During this desperate time in prison, I was always wondering who gave them the business and who helped them to abuse us.

Questions and discussion points

  • Why do you think the police used physical punishment?
  • What do you think Sam would like to say to the people buying these products?
  • Sam says: "I was always wondering who... helped them to abuse us." Who do you think helped?
  • What would you like to say to Sam?

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