Chinese report on labor camp fuels reform debate

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 9, 2013 at 6:19 am •  Published: April 9, 2013
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BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese magazine's report on abuses at a notorious labor camp is giving reformers added ammunition in a campaign to abolish a part of the penal system that China's government says needs change.

The report this week in Lens magazine documents the long hours worked by female inmates at the Masanjia labor camp and the punishments for breaking rules or not meeting production quotas for cutting fabric, making button holes, sewing and ironing clothes for apparel makers. Based on interviews with ex-inmates, prosecutors and former and current camp officials, the 14-page report describes prisoners being locked in tiny punishment cells, shocked with electric batons, handcuffed to two bunk beds with arms stretched wide and bound to a bench with their backs hunched over and hands and feet cuffed.

While abuses in the labor camps are generally known among the public, the report — rare in that it appeared in a formally published domestic magazine — shocked Chinese in its details. Printed in a little-known magazine, it was posted online, where it quickly spread and became the most read story Monday on the four biggest news sites before it was censored and then re-posted on a few sites.

Legal experts and public intellectuals seized on it to renew their calls to end the punishment centers, known formally as labor re-education. "Wait no time to repeal labor re-education," sociologist Yu Jianrong posted on his Twitter-like microblog, which has over 1.6 million followers.

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