14 votes

'We thought it was a prank': Girl, 6, finds China prisoner plea in Tesco charity card

4 comments

  1. Sahasrahla
    (edited )
    Link
    Background on Peter Humphrey, the man mentioned in the card: A short interview, with transcript: Interview with Peter Humphrey about his time in Chinese prison (734 words) From the very moment...

    Background on Peter Humphrey, the man mentioned in the card:

    A short interview, with transcript:

    Interview with Peter Humphrey about his time in Chinese prison (734 words) From the very moment that you're dropped into a cell, you're there to be crushed. You're there to have your spirit broken. You're there to break down and confess to things that you may have not done.

    I wasn't able to talk to my wife again for the next 700 days. I knew that I and my wife had never committed a crime. I knew why we were there. I knew it was wrong. I knew it was injustice. And injustice is something that I've spent my entire life fighting against. And so I was prepared to fight.

    A day or two after I arrived in the detention centre, inside the interrogation cell there was a cage of steel bars. Inside the cage there was a metal seat with a locking bar. And so I would be pushed into this cage and made to sit in the seat, and then locked into the seat. And I'm in handcuffs as well at the same time.

    The physical conditions that you're placed in during the interrogation are part of a deliberate system. 700 days that I spent in captivity, I never slept with the lights off. I sometimes think I never slept at all. The prisoners were woken up every morning at 6.30am by a very weird electronic bugle. After that, breakfast would be brought on a trolley. They would push the food through the gaps in the bars of the door in these metal doggy bowls.

    You're with strangers in a crowded room. 12 or 13 people in some cases. That's duress. You're not allowed to write to your relatives. You're not allowed to have direct contact with lawyers. That's duress. You don't get sunshine. You hardly get any physical exercise outdoors. That's duress.

    They broadcast on a TV set that's hanging from the ceiling and it's piped in from, what they call the propaganda department. They broadcast some physical jerks, sort of exercises, a PE teacher telling everyone to do this, do that.

    Anyone in those conditions is going to be worn down very quickly by anxiety and panic attacks. So every prisoner in this situation, although he's with other prisoners, he's isolated effectively. And he's constantly turning over in his mind. That's the only place where people can find privacy, is inside their own mind.

    During the 13 months that I spent in that detention centre, I was able to glimpse my wife a couple of times through a window of an interrogation cell when I was on my way to meet my lawyer. We were not able to talk. When I received the first letter from her in January 2014, it was like gold dust falling from heaven. And from that moment on this sort of strengthened my morale, my resolve, my fight. We wrote more love letters to each other during this period in captivity in the end than we'd never written to each other in our lifetime.

    Shortly before our trial, we met briefly in the yard of the detention centre and in a prisoner van when we went to the courthouse for what they called a pretrial hearing. The day that we went to court was one of the most terrible days of my life. Because it wasn't so much the trial itself that made the day terrible. It was the fact that the police had played a trick on me before the trial, regarding the information about my brother in law's death.

    My wife's brother had died in the United States a few weeks or a couple of months before the trial. The police told me that she knew about it now, that she had been told. And this was a lie. When I arrived in the court house, we crossed each other's paths inside the courthouse building. She was being escorted across the top of the staircase, and I was just about to be brought up that staircase.

    And when I saw her she said, "Good morning, Peter." And I expressed my condolences to her, believing that she knew. And she didn't. They had lied to me. And Ying broke down. So this completely destabilised us at the beginning of the trial. Five minutes later, we were being led into the courtroom.

    I knew how much my wife loves me. And I believe that the love between us is probably what helped us to survive this ordeal.

    A longer article by Humphrey about his experience, also available on archive. (about 5000 words)

    Edit:

    On the subject of prison labour:

    The prison was a business, doing manufacturing jobs for companies. Mornings, afternoons and often during the after-lunch nap, prisoners “laboured” in the common room. Our men made packaging parts. I recognised well-known brands — 3M, C&A, H&M. So much for corporate social responsibility, though the companies may well have been unaware that prison labour was part of their supply chain. Prisoners from Chinese cell blocks worked in our factory making textiles and components. They marched there like soldiers before our breakfast and returned late in the evening. The foreigners who laboured in my cell block were Africans and Asians with no money from family, and no other way to buy toiletries and snacks. It was piece work; a hundred of this, a thousand of that. Full-time, they earned about Yn120 (£13.50) a month. But it was also about points. There was a sentence-reduction system based on points earned through labour — work such as floor cleaning, food serving, teaching and approved study. Snitching also earned favourable treatment.

    And it goes on to say about sentence-reduction:

    Once or twice a year a list of prisoners went up showing who had earned reductions. Those on long terms crowded around, praying their name was on the board. Many were disappointed. Reductions had become rarer since President Xi Jinping had taken power in early 2013. Before that, a 10-year term might be cut to seven. Under Xi you would be lucky to get one year taken off. I never qualified because I boycotted the thought reports. The officers refused to explain the system to me anyway.

    10 votes
  2. patience_limited
    (edited )
    Link
    I haven't been able to find good numbers on this yet, but I'd like a general idea of the percentage by which slave labor undercuts market labor costs. You'd think it would be possible to create an...

    I haven't been able to find good numbers on this yet, but I'd like a general idea of the percentage by which slave labor undercuts market labor costs.

    You'd think it would be possible to create an algorithm for examining supplier pricing that more easily flags products produced in slave/prisoner factories when compared to state minimum wage labor.

    ***There's ample evidence, aside from morality, that prisoner or slave labor is less economically efficient and costs more than free labor. The state usually bears the externality costs of confinement, enforcement, and lost opportunities because coerced labor accomplishes other state goals, like conformity, suppression of dissent, control of minorities, etc. Slave labor just supports the expenses of something authoritarian states would do anyway, and provides an additional tool for indoctrination, punishment, and terror.

    8 votes
  3. skybrian
    Link
    Supply chains are out of control. Trade abstracts away how things are actually built. I'm wondering what it would take to make it all fully traceable? Particularly when your trading partners...

    Supply chains are out of control. Trade abstracts away how things are actually built. I'm wondering what it would take to make it all fully traceable? Particularly when your trading partners aren't above counterfeiting the evidence?

    4 votes
  4. Grzmot
    Link
    I knew that China treated it's own citizens like absolute trash, but for some reason I didn't think they'd do the same to foreigners.

    I knew that China treated it's own citizens like absolute trash, but for some reason I didn't think they'd do the same to foreigners.

    2 votes