Mentally Retarded Youths Used as Slave Labor

January 8, 2007 Updated: January 8, 2007

A mentally retarded youth was recently reunited with his father, after six years of slavery in a brick factory in Zhushan County in Hebei Province. Three others were also rescued.

According to a report from the Hubei Chinese News, Yang Xianhai has mild mental retardation. Six years ago, when he was 17, Yang Xianhai was reported missing after he left to go to work. For six years, his family has tried, but failed to locate him.

On December 18, 2007, Xiao Quanzhen, Yang Xianhai's mother, received a letter from Zhao Shenman, a farmer from Wuxi County, Chongqing City. In the letter, Zaho said that he got to know Yang while he was working in a brick factory in Linxi County, Hebei Province.

A local farmer was using the youths as slave-labor. They were forced to work more than 12 hour days with no pay. They would be punished and mistreated if they did anything wrong. Their diet was steamed bread and rice porridge, and at night they were locked up.

Yang Mingqian (Yang's father) asked Zhao Shenman to go to Hubei to help him search for his son. When they found him they both went to the Zhushan County government for help.

On the evening of December 28, 2007, Ma Lianhe was forced to hand over the youths to the police. The other three youths were also mentally retarded and came from Henan, Shandong, and Hebei Provinces. The farmer was ordered to pay 50,000 yuan in compensation to Yang's family.

According to the police, since Yang Xianhai disappeared, he and the other youths have been used for free-labor, and forced to work in brick factories and farms in Shaanxi and Hebei provinces. The farmer holding them kept any wages they had earned.

The three other youths are being looked after by the local civil affairs department, and the Linxi provisional government has promised to help find their families so that they can go home.