An Arizona woman says she found a note from a Chinese slave laborer while shopping at Walmart.
The author of the note said he or she is a prisoner in China who is forced to work about 14 hours a day with little food or medical attention, reports KPTV.
Similar notes have been found in the past. In 2011, another woman in the US found one inside a Halloween decoration.
In 2014, a shopper in Northern Ireland discovered a note in a pair of pants she purchased from the European retailer Primark, reported CNN at the time.
“We work 15 hours every day and eat food that wouldn’t even be fed to pigs and dogs,” the note said. “We’re [forced to] work like oxen.”
It urged the international community to “condemn these human rights abuses by the Chinese government.”
The woman who found the note turned to Amnesty International, which has investigated forced labor in China. “I was shocked to find this note and card inside the trousers from Primark and even more shocked to discover that it appears to have been made under slave labor conditions in a Chinese prison,” she told AI.
“It’s very difficult to know whether it’s genuine, but the fear has to be that this is just the tip of the iceberg,” said AI’s Northern Ireland program director, according to Patrick Corrigan.
In 2013, China announced that it would abolish its “Re-education Through Labor (RTL) system, which begun in the 1950s and allows police to detain petty offenders for up to four years without a trial.
But AI reacted to the announcement with skepticism. “Abolishing the RTL system is a step in the right direction. However, it now appears that it may only be a cosmetic change just to avert the public outcry over the abusive RTL system where torture was rife,” said Corinna-Barbara Francis, Amnesty International’s China Researcher. “It’s clear that the underlying policies of punishing people for their political activities or religious beliefs haven’t changed. The abuses and torture are continuing, just in a different way.”
AI summarized in a press release:
“This decision has the promise of sparing hundreds of thousands of individuals possibly years of arbitrary detention, ill-treatment and abusive conditions. The closure of RTL camps will not bring long-term relief or justice if the policies driving the human rights violations do not change. Chinese authorities need to abolish all forms of arbitrary detention and stop punishing individuals for doing nothing more than peacefully exercising their human rights.”