Chinese People Want Labor Camp System to End

August 30, 2012 3:11 pm Last Updated: October 1, 2015 12:28 pm
Prisoners walk beside a police escort during a prison open day in Nanjing, 2005. Recently there have been calls to dismantle the labor camp system in China. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

A growing chorus of voices in China are clamoring for an end to the notorious labor camp system, with Premier Wen Jiabao among them, according to a Hong Kong-based news website.

An Aug. 17 Mingjing article quoted an insider’s reports on what Wen said during meetings among top Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials at the Beidaihe beach resort.

Wen said the forced labor system has become a system used by corrupt officials to protect themselves and suppress the people, according to Mingjing. This system has to be abolished and doing so cannot be delayed because of any excuse, Wen said. He also said the Party should protect the people and not protect corrupt officials.

CCP head Hu Jintao and the presumed next head of the CCP, Xi Jinping responded to Wen by saying they neither supported nor opposed him reported Mingjing.

Official communist media outlets have recently condemned the labor camp system. Regime mouthpiece Xinhua published an editorial on Aug. 11 saying certain officials abused the labor camp system, and The People’s Daily carried the same article on Aug. 16.

Abuses

The CCP regimes’ Reform Through Labor (RTL) system is ostensibly meant to rehabilitate people whose crimes are not serious enough for prison.

China National Radio reported that Wang Xixin, a professor from Peking University Law School, said the shortcoming of the RTL system is that it concentrates all the power of accusation, investigation, and punishment in the Public Security Bureau.

The system often mistreats innocent people such as petitioner Tang Hui from Hunan Province, whose case provides an example of the abuses Wen complained of.

Tang’s 11-year-old daughter was kidnapped, raped, and forced into prostitution six years ago. The child’s ordeal led to disease and infertility, and her mother repeatedly sought justice for the crimes.

She protested the sentences given the offenders, which led the Public Security Bureau of Lingling branch in Yongzhou City in Hunan Province to arrest Tang and sentence her to one year and six months in a labor camp.

The sentence was widely condemned, and cited as an example of why the RTL system must end. After a public outcry, Tang was freed on Aug.10.

Persecution

The RTL system has played a major role in the CCP’s 13-yearlong persecution of the spiritual practice of Falun Gong. Far more Falun Gong practitioners have been abused in labor camps than in prisons, according to a human rights organization that tracks the persecution.

“The labor camp system was used most often, because it’s a strange product derived from the authoritarian regime under the CCP and outside of its legal system,” said Wang Zhiyuan, the director of the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG).

He said at least 1 million Falun Gong adherents are held in the RTL system. Every city and province has labor camps, he said.

Wang said people are sent to the camps without any semblance of due process. Many Falun Gong adherents are then subjected to brainwashing techniques aimed at breaking their will.

“In simple words, it is to make one’s sprit dead, and if you do not transform, it will physically eliminate you.”

Writers, Lawyers and Scholars

Zheng Yuanjie, an author who writes children’s books and is called the Fairy King, started a poll about labor camps on the microblog weibo.com. Ninety-eight percent of 19,876 people voted to stop the RTL system.
Human rights lawyer Wang Cheng of Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province also started a petition about abolishing labor camps.

“They’re still trying to keep this kind of thing. I personally hope to abolish it completely. Replacing the labor camp system with another committee is wrong if all it’s doing is to strip people’s human rights,” he told Sound of Hope radio.

Yu Jianrong, professor and director of the Center for the Study of Social Problems at the Rural Development Institute of Chinese Academy of Social Science, studied the RTL system in 2009.

He found that “in some areas, the re-education system is the local government’s tool to retaliate in the name of safeguarding stability. It must be abolished as soon as possible.”

Read the original Chinese article.

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