Unknown numbers of people have been held as slave laborers in China’s “Laogai” (labor reform camps). Created by the Chinese Communist Party under Mao Zedong, the Laogoi system was intended to “reeducate criminals” and has long used prisoners as a source of cheap labor. Labor and pro-democracy activists have been targeted for Laogai imprisonment: Fu Shengqi was held repeatedly between 1981 and 1995 on charges of counter-revolutionary propaganda, and was granted political asylum in the US in 1996.
Guo Jiang spent 20 years in slave labor within the Chinese prison system. Officially abolished on 28th December 2013, Reeducation Through Labour Camps subjected dissidents to forced labour, torture and terrible living conditions. Some academics suggest that the replacement system, Custody and Education camps, are largely the same as these. Religious and political activists held in legal education facilities previously reported forced labor occurred in pretrial detention and outside of penal sentences.
Unknown numbers of people have been held as slave laborers in China’s “Laogai” (labor reform camps). Human rights organizations claim that Falon Gong practitioners are often targeted for arrest, along with ethnic minorities, Catholics, Protestants, and Tibetans. By some estimates around 100,000 Falon Gong practitioners have been sent to the Laogai. Sam Lu was one of these individuals. Sam, who now lives in the US, was imprisoned in 2000. He wrote his story to help end the ongoing enslavement of his wife in a different Chinese labour camp.
Songhwa Han escaped to China from North Korea in the mid-1990s. After being detained in China, she was returned to North Korea, where she was held in forced labour in a state prison camp. While living in China as a refugee she also endured forced marriage, domestic abuse, detention, and official beatings. She received protection with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 2006 and asylum in the United States in 2008. China has forcibly returned tens of thousands of North Korean refugees over the past two decades. Most have been punished in North Korea with beatings, torture, detention, forced labour, and sexual violence. China’s decision to forcibly repatriate them violates the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol.