Chinese slaves released

A newspaper in Spain reported that Chinese police rescued 31 virtual slaves who had been forced to work in a brick factory owned by the son of a high-ranking Chinese Communist official.

According to the Madrid daily “ABC”, the workers had subsisted literally on bread and water for at least a year at the brick factory and were so traumatized by the experience that they could barely remember their own names. Photographs released by “Bejing News” showed workers in deplorable conditions. One of these showed a man whose arm appeared to be deformed by multiple scars and lesions.

All of the workers rescued showed evidence of severe bruises, wounds and burns all over their bodies. Chinese officials say that the slaves had been forced to work from 5 am every day and not allowed to rest until past 1 am the next day.

Beijing News claimed that "They were so filthy that it could be scraped off with a knife". According to the newspaper, at least one of the workers was murdered by an overseer who killed his victim with hammer blows. The brick factory, which is located in the Linfen district of Shanxi province in northern China, had been guarded by dogs and armed men.

The facility did not have a license to operate but was able to do so because of the owner's relationship with the local Communist Party boss. Police have arrested the factory manager and one of the guards, but others remain at large.

A raid was conducted last year on another workplace in Shanxi province in which slaves were held against their will for two months before intervention by the Chinese government.

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.

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