05/22/2009, 00.00
CHINA

New raid on disabled-slaves in Anhui brick factories

They are mentally disabled forced by threats and beatings to work all day long without a wage. The head of the factory claims to have paid a couple of hundred Yuan for them. Parents groups report that child abduction continues throughout the nation, with little police interest.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Police have arrested 10 people in Jieshou, Anhui province accused of kidnapping mentally handicapped people and forcing them to work in brick kilns like slaves, without pay. According to state agency Xinhua, in April 32 “slaves” were released from two factories.

Police official Gao Jie explains that “[the factory owner] said he bought them at a price of hundreds of Yuan from a taxi driver in Shandong, who said he found the mentally handicapped roaming on street …. All of them are mentally handicapped people aged between 25 and 45. Few of them can tell where they are from”. Only a dozen were able to return home.

In 2007 over 1.000 “slaves” were discovered in the brick factories of Shanxi ad Henan, forced to work for a bowl of semolina and continuously beaten (photo from the time).  The slave drivers prefer the mentally disabled, who are easy to kidnap after they have been made drunk and who are less likely to rebel or try to escape. At that time public opinion was outraged and for weeks after that thousands of police were sent to inspect all the factories in the area, with great results that led to severe sentences for the human traffickers.  But parents of abducted children have told Radio Free Asia the children continue to disappear, with at least 200 cases in and around the area of Nanning. They complain that the police are unable to penetrate the human trafficking ring but on the other hand are highly efficient in impeding parent’s protests and their attempts to bring the issue to public attention.  Police even arrive at placing the parents under surveillance.

In Dongguan parents groups denounce that an estimated 1,000 children have disappeared in the last few years, while official data indicates only 400.

Liao Tianqi, deputy editor of the magazine Observe China, says the trafficking of children is not only bent on supplying free manual labour, but also to an increased demand for children in China due to the one child policy.

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