Target: “Mr. Zhang” (alias)
Goal: Applaud Mr. Zhang’s bravery for hiding letters in products sent to the U.S., exposing enslavement in China
Mr. Zhang, an alias used for identity protection, was enslaved in China for two years for following a spiritual movement that the government considered to be a cult. Zhang was imprisoned without a trial, like most prisoners in these camps. During this time, he and other inmates were forced to work 15 hours a day, seven days a week while suffering from beatings and torture at the Masanjia Labor Camp. He described this frightening experience in each of the 20 letters he wrote over the two years he was imprisoned.
Zhang hid these letters in packages of Halloween decorations sent to stores in the United States. Julie Keith of Oregon discovered one of Zhang’s letters in a package of Styrofoam tombstones in a “Totally Ghoul” Halloween decoration kit she purchased at Kmart. Keith contacted human rights organizations and the U.S. government to no avail. Determined to get the word out about the abuse going on in the Masanjia Labor Camp, Keith posted the letter on Facebook, and CNN quickly picked up the story. Since then, the Masanjia Labor Camp has closed down. Zhang has been located and interviewed, and has now been released from the camp.
China’s Communist party claims that the country will stop using forced labor by the end of 2013. However, more than 300 labor camps still exist in the country according to Amnesty International. It is difficult to believe that these camps will close because of the enormous amount of money they make on products sold in the U.S.
Thank Mr. Zhang for his bravery in exposing the reality of labor camps in China. Think twice before you purchase a product made in China, because it may have been made through great suffering and torture in a Chinese labor camp like the one Zhang survived.
Dear Mr. Zhang,
Thank you for your incredible bravery in secretly writing and hiding letters in products shipped to the U.S. from the Masanjia Labor Camp in China where you were imprisoned. It was very risky, but so important to expose the torture and tragedy that occurs in these labor camps. Thank you for taking that risk to make others aware of these camps, in the hope that they will all cease to exist one day soon.
The letter you wrote has been widely read in the U.S., making American consumers think twice before purchasing products that have been made in China, because they may be unknowingly funding these labor camps. I am glad you are safe, and hopefully your bravery will save the lives of others still trapped in labor camps across China.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Kostmo via Wikimedia