Beijing’s Upside Down Flag a Product of China’s Labor Camps

August 21, 2008 3:35 am Last Updated: October 1, 2015 10:53 pm

A young boy holds an upside down China flag during the opening ceremony for the Olympic Games in Beijing. (Saeed Kahn/AFP/Getty Images)
A young boy holds an upside down China flag during the opening ceremony for the Olympic Games in Beijing. (Saeed Kahn/AFP/Getty Images)
The upside down China flag that appeared in the opening Olympics ceremony is a product of China’s labor camps, a mainland rights watch website revealed on August 20.

The Shanghai Tyranny website, hosted by overseas Chinese online media Boxun, disclosed how labor camps in Shanghai have special workshops set up to produce national flags for many different countries. Prisoners have purposely produced some upside down red flags to protest the forced labor camp system.

The website also gives the name of other forced labor camps in Shanghai –  Shanghai Qingpu First Woman Labor Camp and Shanghai Dafeng Farm Labor Camp – mainly manufacturing products that are high volume, have short cycle times, simple processes, low profit and are urgent orders, such as the corpse bags for the Indonesia tsunami victims, various Olympics gift wrappers, moon cake boxes, Christmas gifts, Olympic footballs, paper napkins, etc.

Prisoners at the labor camps also produce boxes for KFC fried chicken, disposable chopsticks, Double Arrow chewing gums, Daphne leather shoes, upscale ball pens, and molding for computer software disks.

Falun Gong practitioner Mrs Li Ying, who is currently living in Sydney, Australia, was locked inside Shanghai Qingpu First Female Labor Camp for two years starting in 1999. According to Mrs Li, the labor camp manufactures many export products, such as stuffed toys for Italy and Three Guns underwear brand. Li said, “All Three Guns underwear brand with No. 16 quality check number is a product from this labor camp.”

According to the Shanghai Tyranny website, these products are contracted through from governmental officials and high ranking cadres of judicial and investigation departments, or their family members. It is a very profitable business since prisoners work in the labor camp for very long hours with almost no pay. Shanghai police are also instructed to periodically arrest people and send them to labor camps on various charges to maintain the manpower.

Inside the labor camps, prisoners work at least 17 hours a day without any break. Those who fail to meet the quotas will be punished by taking away three privileges: family visitations, family calls, and the purchases of daily supplies. Failing to meet the quota can result in beatings and loss of meals as well.

Mrs Li discussed how the prisoners start work before 7 a.m. and often finish at midnight, sometimes even working until 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. even though the regime’s regulation states 9:00 p.m. as the latest time a prisoner can work. Mrs Li said her fingers became swollen and her finger tips were extremely painful from the work. She often woke up during the night due to the pain. Mrs Li received less than US$10 a month from the labor camp. From that amount prisoners must buy basic necessities from the labor camp shop such as soap.

Mrs Bo Gengdi, another Falun Gong adherent, was forced to work on an assigned quota that was impossible to finish. The conditions inside the workshop were horrible as well, with temperatures at 40 Celsius. Since Bo was unable to complete her quota, the guards refused to let her shower or change clothes for nine days.

Mrs Zhang Ying spent two and a half years in the same labor camp starting in 2001. Zhang was unable to finish her quota so she received less than US$3 to buy supplies for her daily needs. She recalled that a pack of instant noodles was considered a luxury. The intensive labor and lack of nutritious food eventually wore her down. During the course of one year, her menstruation did not come and she developed double vision.

The article published on Shanghai Tyranny website appeals to the international community to continue to pay attention to China’s deteriorated human rights situation, especially the situation inside the labor camps.

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