Forced & Child Labour In Shanxi BrickworksPublished by MAC on 2007-06-06
Forced & child labour in Shanxi brickworks
2, 400 hundred children sold as ‘slaves’ to illegal brick works factories in Shanxi, China
6th June 2007
[Original article in Chinese. Title translation, and following summary of the article's key points, provided by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre.]
Dahe.com published an open petition letter on June 6 from a group of 400 parents, striving to retrieve their lost sons, who had been captured as forced labourers in many notorious brick works factories in Shanxi, China. The children were lured or kidnapped at public locations in Zhengzhou, Henan Province such as train stations, bus stops and on the road side.
They were each sold for around 500 yuan (about US$62) to work in the Shanxi brick factories, known as “dark factories”. When the parents visited the illegal brick factories in Linfen and Yongji cities of Shanxi, where most of the "dark factories" are located, they were stunned by what they found. The youngest of these children is aged 8. The children’s hair has not been cut for months or maybe years. Some have been held for over 7 years.
Some have become disabled because of brutal beatings when caught trying to escape. Many have had their backs seriously burnt when they were forced to carry red-hot bricks on their backs. Slow or sick workers are beaten in order to ‘catch up with productivity’. Sick and injured workers are not hospitalized or even given any treatment.
All workers are held under round-the-clock surveillance by supervisors and guards. In the past two months, these parents have been able to save more than 40 children from those factories. However, still hundreds are in the hands of the "dark factories". The parents sought help from village, county and city officials from police and labour departments, only to find indifference and red tape.
Many Shanxi officials said since the children were missing in Henan and thus they should be dealt with in Henan. In one case of an assault that lead to a permanent disability, the official released the perpetrator due to lack of evidence. That led many to suspect collusion between officials and the owners.