Chinese police have arrested 10 people in an eastern province suspected of beating mentally handicapped people forced to work in brick kilns and treating them like slaves, state media said on Friday.
The case in Jieshou, a city in the underdeveloped province of Anhui, echoes a major scandal involving more than 1,000 people forced to work in brutal conditions at brick kilns in Shanxi province in 2007.
The state-run Xinhua news agency said police raided two kilns late last month and rescued 32 forced labourers.
China Daily looks at how the laborers arrived at the brick kilns:
Zhang [the brick kiln owner], 38, a native of Jieshou, allegedly bought some of the “workers” for about 300 yuan ($44) each from a taxi driver in the neighboring Shandong province, Zhao [Liang, a Jieshou public security bureau officer] said.
[…] Police are trying to find more clues to uncover a possible racket run by criminals to traffic mentally challenged people.
See Xinhua for more details on the story, including the challenges of returning the laborers home:
“All of them are mentally handicapped people aged between 25 and 45. Few of them can tell where they were from,” said Gao.
He said the police helped 19 of them find their homes, and the remaining 13 had been temporarily sheltered in a welfare house in Jieshou, waiting for the families to pick them up.
“We have put their photographs on the bureau’s website. Maybe their relatives are looking for them, and they may find the information on the Internet,” said Gao.
See also a report from the New York Times.