The Laogai Research Foundation
Communist China has won many gold medals at the London Olympics. However, these successes should not make people forget about the terrible reality of the country´s wast network of forced labor prison camps. This article by Peter Müller (The International Society for Human Rights) is still as topical today as when it was written in 2007:
In order to uphold its rule and to suppress its people, every dictatorship must be accompanied by a prison system, whether it is a concentration camp (in which the prisoner's work is exploited for economic gain) or other types of camps. In every respect, the Chinese Communist labour reform camps-- in terms of scope, cruelty, and the number of people imprisoned—not only rivals the Soviet systems. In fact it surpasses it.
What actually is the fate of the people sent to the Laogai ? How do they suffer ? Generally speaking the living conditions in Gulag and Laogai camps are rather similar - Hard labour daily for up to 12-14 hours, in
On top of all these dreadful conditions the Laogai exercises sometimes very sophisticated mental torture, e. g. by demanding self confessions. Once done – the prisoner has no chance of evading or refusing – renewed confessions are requested. Since the prisoner has not received an official court sentence, he does not know when he shall be free again. Thus there is no hope of freedom. It is destroyed on purpose. Spying and reporting on fellow inmates is demanded to prove one’s ‘progress to personal reform’. There is no privacy whatsoever, in some camps the prisoners live and work day and night without any clothing – in order to break down their remaining resistance and their personalities. Probably worst of all is a constant flood of letters from friends and relatives, incl. parents, children, spouses. These letters accuse the prisoner of political and other “crimes”. The writers distance themselves from the prisoner, canceling all former relationships. The prisoner is thus totally deprived of all warmth, hope, and confidence. Consequently the suicide rate is high, very very high.
Regardless of the exact numbers, millions of people are currently suffering within the Laogai, and more are sentenced to serve time in the camps every day. The Chinese government considers national statistics about the Laogai to be state secrets. But the Laogai is a difficult thing to keep secret. It remains the most extensive and secretive network of forced labor camps operated by any country in the world
We have no right to forget about those deprived of their freedom in the Laogai.
The Laogai is not a dying institution as some have suggested. It is true that the composition of the camps has changed. In the past, the majority of criminals were jailed for political reasons. The majority of today's inmates are incarcerated for more common crimes. Nevertheless, this does not indicate a fundamental change in the nature of the Laogai. To the contrary, the Chinese government's dependence on the Laogai as its primary tool of suppression is as strong now as it was in the days of Chairman Mao Zedong's rule.
For those imprisoned for common crimes but deprived of their due process or forced to labor under barbaric conditions, the Laogai is alive. For those imprisoned for publicizing their beliefs, for those caught fighting for Tibetan and Uighur independence or Trade Unions, for those persecuted for asserting their religious rights, the Laogai is very much a living institution. Only the attention of the world can bring about an end to their suffering.
Why do business with the People’s Republic of
The inhuman Laogai system in China justifies each and every Boycott.
Read the entire article here