I Segreti degli ombrelli made in China

Gli ombrelli di una nota marca cinese (Tiantang) sono fatti dai detenuti dei campi di lavoro forzato. Di seguito, in questo articolo, la denuncia di un prigioniero cinese costretto a lavorare 15 ore al giorno, picchiato e umiliato, nel campo di lavoro di Laodongyue nella città di Hangzhou, provincia di Zhejiang, Cina. Nella denuncia che segue, Huang Zhijiao spiega come donne e uomini erano impiegati nella lavorazione di questi ombrelli.

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Overseas Chinese are probably familiar with the Tiantang (Heaven) umbrellas that are made in Hangzhou, China. At one time, Tiantang umbrellas were among the top ten trademarks in China.
Recently there is new information regarding these umbrellas—they are made by prisoners forced into slave labor.

Huang Zhijiao, who now resides in Canada, told The Epoch Times the story of her imprisonment at the Laodongyue Detention Center in Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province. She was forced to work 15 hours a day in a hazardous environment where she was constantly beaten and humiliated.

What was she forced to make? Umbrellas for Tiantang—umbrellas coated with poisonous chemicals.

In 1999, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched the unlawful persecution of Falun Gong. One evening in August of 2000, a police officer from Shangcheng District Police Station came to Huang’s home claiming he was conducting a census. Because she persisted in her practice of Falun Gong, the police took Huang to Laodongyue Detention Center where she was detained for two months.

In the detention center, male prisoners had to make umbrella stands and women had to assemble the umbrella covers and stands. Huang remembers it was a bitter job. Many Tiantang umbrellas have protection against UV rays from the sun. This was accomplished by coating them with silver paint or other poisonous chemicals.

She told how the laborers developed open sores on their hands due to the friction created when working with the materials. “The chemicals would get into our blood through the wounds,” she said.

Every morning Huang woke up with extreme pain in her hands. “The pain almost made me jump. My thumbs and index fingers were quite swollen and very painful,” she remembered.

Tiantang umbrellas have a very high market share according to Huang. To maximize profits, the company contracted with the detention center. The guards assigned work to every prison ward.

Some prisoners, to reduce their sentences, would help the guards bully other prisoners to assure the jobs were done within the contracted times.

While in the detention center, Huang was forced to manufacture 500 umbrellas a day—that is, she had only 18 minutes to complete each umbrella, assuming she worked non-stop for 15 hours a day. ”That was an extremely high workload,” said Huang. ”If I made a mistake, the prison bully would slap or nip me. If he had a needle or scissors in his hands, he would stab me anywhere except my eyes.”

Before Huang developed the skill to do the work efficiently, she was often savagely beaten by prison bullies for working too slowly. Huang said she saw prisoners attempt suicide because of the heavy workload, hazardous environment, and inhumane treatment they endured.

Once Huang saw a prisoner with a pair of scissors in her throat because she didn’t want to do the work. “We couldn’t believe it. One of the prison bullies beat her with a stick the size of a wrist until the stick was broken. Her head was covered with blood. A guard came up and forced her to jump, and the scissors fell into her stomach. She kneeled to the ground, begging forgiveness, but the guard only yelled, ‘You worthless garbage! A pair of used scissors is worth more than your life.’”

Thus are the beautiful, lithe, and fashionable Tiantang umbrellas made.

In December 2003, after her release, Huang went to Beijing to attend a fashion fair. There she saw the Tiantang umbrellas—a bitter reminder of the suffering she had endured.

“I remember that the prisoners often said, ‘If we ever got out—if there is ever a chance—we must disclose the sinister truth of the Tiantang umbrellas.‘”

Huang, now 34 years old, graduated from the China Academy of Art and is a certified senior consultant. She worked in marketing, media planning and market analysis for several companies. After the persecution of Falun Gong started in 1999, she was arrested three times for persisting in her practice of Truthfulness,Compassion, and Forbearance. The second and third times, she was detained at the Laodongyue Detention Center.

By Chenfang and Xu Shufei Apr 13, 2009

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