Al Jazeera is streaming the most recent episode of “Slavery: a 21st Century Evil“. This episode outlines the modern function of laogai and laojiao – the institutional practices of forced labor for re-education and reform that have existed since the early days of the PRC. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has recommended the Al Jazeera report, and provides a brief summary:
China is hiding a secret network of more than 1,000 slave labour prison camps, in which dissidents are imprisoned without trial and forced to produce consumer goods for export to the west, Al Jazeera reports.
The investigation states that an estimated 5.5m men and women are held in what some experts describe as “state sponsored slavery”. Al Jazeera’s report says work from these camps has contributed to the country’s economic boom.
The Al Jazeera video delivers personal interviews with individuals who were incarcerated and forced to produce goods in these prisons and detention centers, and provides footage from inside the work camps. The journalistic investigation pays special attention to the illegal export of goods produced in these labor camps, and the lack of pressure from the international community to force China to abandon this inhumane practice. Transcribed from the video’s conclusion:
China’s deliberate policy of using prisoners as slaves to boost the profits for Chinese export companies continues unchecked, and western governments remain reluctant to rock the economic boat. As long as the world’s consumer markets place a higher value on cheap products than they do on human life, the misery of 5,000,000 human lives locked up behind these walls will continue.