Outrage as Chinese slave scandal deepens

BEIJING, June 15, 2007 (AFP) – More than 450 people, including young children, have been freed from slavery in Chinese brick factories and mines but hundreds of others are believed to still be trapped, police said Friday.

“It is outrageous that transient rural labourers were forced to work 20 hours a day and one was reportedly beaten to death by kiln owners,” the China Daily said in an editorial on Friday. In a crackdown that has laid bare a shocking underworld of human trafficking and slave labour, police in two provinces in northern and central China said the workers were freed after raids over the past week on hundreds of brick factories and small coal mines.

Various media reports have described freed workers, some as young as eight, as having been beaten, nearly starved and forced to work extraordinary long hours under appalling and dangerous conditions.

“So far, we have rescued more than 200 people including over 40 children,” an official with the Henan provincial public security department, who gave only his surname of Dang, told AFP by phone.

“They were abducted and sold to brick kilns in Shanxi and Henan provinces.”

Li Fulin, vice director of public security in neighbouring Shanxi provi