Thursday, December 16, 2010

Chinese police rescue mentally disabled workers enslaved by factory boss

From The AP. Here are photos of the enslaved workers.

BEIJING -- Authorities have rescued a group of mentally ill workers enslaved in a factory after being sold by a man who purportedly ran a beggars' shelter, state media reported Dec. 15.

Police on Dec. 14 nabbed Li Xinglin, the boss of the building materials factory in the far-western Xinjiang region who had fled Sunday after Chinese media reports exposed the plant's working conditions, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

His son, Li Chenglong, was also nabbed in Chengdu, capital of southwestern Sichuan province, while the 12 mentally ill workers he had taken with him were placed in government custody.

Earlier reports said at least 11 workers, including eight mentally ill people, were sold to the factory to work without pay. The reports cited authorities as saying the workers were given no protective gear, forced to work in the bitter winter when other factories suspended operations and ate the same food as the factory leader's dogs.

A man named Zeng Lingquan was detained Monday and accused of selling people who lived in his shelter in southwestern Sichuan province to the Jiaersi Green Construction Material Chemical Factory in Toksun county.

China has had other cases of mentally disabled people being abused as laborers.

In May 2009, police in the eastern province of Anhui arrested 10 men for allegedly enslaving more than 30 mentally handicapped people who were forced to work at brick kilns.

Hundreds of brick kiln slaves, many of them handicapped, were freed in raids in 2007 in northern China.