Target: Julie Keith
Goal: Commend Oregon citizen Julie Keith for never giving up on finding and freeing the Chinese slave who smuggled a note into a store product.
In December 2012, Julie Keith bought a holiday kit at Kmart which contained a note from Mr. Zhang, a Chinese slave being forced to assemble these products. Over the past 11 months Keith has sought out every avenue to track down Mr. Zhang and free him from his terrifying imprisonment. Finally he has been found and transported to a better life. Thank Julie Keith for never ending her efforts to locate and free Mr. Zhang.
The letter in Keith’s holiday kit detailed the horrifying circumstances under which Mr. Zhang and his fellow slaves were forced to work. The slaves worked 15 hours every day of the week, sleeping in close quarters while being watched constantly by guards. There were also regular beatings, sleep deprivation, torture, and sexual abuse. Why were these people imprisoned and being treated so terribly? For criticizing the government, petty crimes, subscribing to a banned religion, or presumed guilt in case of political crimes.
Keith took action immediately upon reading the letter. She sought out the help of human rights organizations and went to U.S. customs officials. Unfortunately, they told her there was not much they could do to help. Keith kept fighting, posting the letter on Facebook and gaining the attention of news outlets. CNN launched a search and incredibly enough found Mr. Zhang, who was freed from his imprisonment of nearly five years.
Commend Mr. Zhang for his bravery and determination to help free himself and highlight the terrifying conditions these prisoners suffer through every day. Thank Julie Keith for taking the letter seriously, and never giving up her quest to find and free Mr. Zhang from the abuse and torture he went through in that prison camp.
Dear Julie Keith,
I recently learned of your dedication in finding the author of the letter you found smuggled into a holiday kit. Thank you for your perseverance in finding Mr. Zhang, to help free him from the horrid conditions he was forced to live through every day.
Mr. Zhang’s letter details the torture, beatings, and sexual abuse prisoners suffered in addition to working 15 hours each day. Their “crimes” justifying their imprisonment ranged from petty crimes, to criticizing the government, to participating in a banned religion. Clearly these actions in no way warrant the terrible treatment these prisoners are receiving.
Thank you for helping to free Mr. Zhang and for highlight this massive slave problem in China.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Marissa Orton via Flickr