Sunday, June 17, 2007

Modern Slavery: An Inconvenient Truth

Hi Friends,

Having been impressed (I think with some justifications) with China’s economic progress, I am mildly surprised and disappointed with the discovery of slaves in China.

This is a serious setback for China’s attempt to be accepted as a respected member of the world community.

Even a successful Beijing Olympics 2008 would not help much in projecting China as a modern and progressive nation if she does not get her own house in order.

Corruption and collusion amongst its local authorities must have been rife for such blatant forms of slavery to be possible.

I am interested to see her corrective actions and what happens to these slave-owners and their corrupt friends.

A.Slavery in China

China 'will catch slave owners' (BBC News)

China has pledged to bring to justice traffickers who enslaved hundreds of children and adults to work in brick kilns in two provinces.

As it prepared to send investigators to Henan and Shanxi, the government said that all captives would be freed.

Some 550 people have been liberated in recent weeks and families believe up to 1,000 children were enslaved.

The story made national headlines after parents of some of them launched an internet campaign for their freedom.

Children thought to be as young as eight years old were kidnapped, held captive and forced to work long hours for no pay.

The case has revealed the dark side of China's booming economy with forced labour and human trafficking common in rural areas, the BBC's Dan Griffiths reports from Beijing.

'All-out' search

Responding to calls for action by President Hu Jintao and other senior top politicians, the labour and social security ministry vowed to send a team of investigators to the two provinces.

"The team will find out the truth as soon as possible, and we will go all out to rescue the workers who have been forced to work as slaves in the brick kilns," a deputy minister, Sun Baoshu, was quoted as saying by the Chinese state news agency Xinhua.

"The criminal offenders will be dealt with to safeguard the legal interests of the workers."

Thousands of police have been checking building sites in the two provinces and have made scores of arrests, Chinese media report.

Provincial authorities in Shanxi have also said they will punish officials for dereliction of duty unless all abused workers are freed within 10 days.
'Jail-like'

The wife of one kiln-owner arrested by police said that officials had previously done nothing about the kilns other than ask for money from her husband.

"The officials said that we were illegal and so they came for money but they didn't do any more than that," Zhang Mei told Reuters news agency in Hongtong, Shanxi.

She also blamed a Hongtong foreman, Heng Tinghan, who had allegedly found workers and controlled them directly and is now wanted by police.

"We really didn't know they weren't getting money," Mrs Zhang said.
State TV reports prison-like conditions in the kilns where slaves were controlled with beatings or fierce dogs.

Some young male workers were shown to have festering wounds on their feet and waists, possibly from being burnt by the kilns where they worked.

Many labourers were reportedly abducted off the streets of regional towns and sold on for as little as 500 yuan ($66, £33), the AFP news agency reports, quoting Chinese press.

B.Modern Slavery around the world

Most of us probably suspect that slavery still prevails in this day and age but we just want to block it out of our conscious thoughts.

It is an inconvenient truth.

Anyway, what can we do about it even if we know it exists?

Even Archbishop Desmond Tutu had the same problem as all of us when he said in Hull, UK, in 1999 ,

"Slavery...I didn't know about all these forms that existed. I think it's largely because wearen't expecting it. It is hidden.Generally people would not believe that it is possible under modern conditions. They would say 'No, I think youare making it all up', because it's just too incredible..."

Article 4, Universal Declaration of Human Rights explicitly probihits slavery. The article says:

"No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slaveryand the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms."

As you and I know, it will be a long time before UN’s declarations are able to protect the helpless and vulnerable in remote areas of Africa and South America. If the national authorities in these regions are inept or in collusion with exploiters of human labour, these lofty UN legal documents are worth “squat” to these slaves.

They will continue to be beaten, abused and killed, mostly without the knowledge of anyone else.

God is their only witness.

Please go to Anti-slavery.org’s websites for more information on how humans continue with depraved acts and cruel behaviour despite so many thousand years of “so-called” civilization.

I will just highlight the section below ( from the website) and you can read the rest yourself.

What is modern slavery?

For many people, the image that comes to mind when they hear the word slavery is the slavery of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. We think of the buying and selling of people, their shipment from one continent to another and the abolition of the trade in the early 1800s. Even if we know nothing about the slave trade, it is something we think of as part of our history rather than our present. But the reality is slavery continues TODAY.


Millions of men, women and children around the world are forced to lead lives as slaves. Although this exploitation is often not called slavery, the conditions are the same. People are sold like objects, forced to work for little or no pay and are at the mercy of their 'employers'.

Slavery exists today despite the fact that it is banned in most of the countries where it is practised. It is also prohibited by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1956 UN Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery. Women from eastern Europe are bonded into prostitution, children are trafficked between West African countries and men are forced to work as slaves on Brazilian agricultural estates. Contemporary slavery takes various forms and affects people of all ages, sex and race.

What is slavery?

Common characteristics distinguish slavery from other human rights violations. A slave is:

forced to work -- through mental or physical threat;

owned or controlled by an 'employer', usually through mental or physical abuse or threatened abuse;

dehumanised, treated as a commodity or bought and sold as 'property';

physically constrained or has restrictions placed on his/her freedom of movement.

What types of slavery exist today?

Bonded labour: affects millions of people around the world. People become bonded labourers by taking or being tricked into taking a loan for as little as the cost of medicine for a sick child. To repay the debt, many are forced to work long hours, seven days a week, up to 365 days a year. They receive basic food and shelter as 'payment' for their work, but may never pay off the loan, which can be passed down for generations.

Early and forced marriage: affects women and girls who are married without choice and are forced into lives of servitude often accompanied by physical violence.

Forced labour: affects people who are illegally recruited by individuals, governments or political parties and forced to work -- usually under threat of violence or other penalties.

Slavery by descent: is where people are either born into a slave class or are from a 'group' that society views as suited to being used as slave labour.

Trafficking: involves the transport and/or trade of people -- women, children and men -- from one area to another for the purpose of forcing them into slavery conditions.

Worst forms of child labour: affects an estimated 126 million** children around the world in work that is harmful to their health and welfare.

Dr. Huang Shoou Chyuan

5 comments:

Chew said...

1) forced to work -- through mental or physical threat;

2) owned or controlled by an 'employer', usually through mental or physical abuse or threatened abuse;

3) dehumanised, treated as a commodity or bought and sold as 'property';

4) physically constrained or has restrictions placed on his/her freedom of movement.


All Singapore males forced to serve NS definitely fits the above descriptions.

People are sold like objects, forced to work for little or no pay and are at the mercy of their 'employers'.

While not necessarily sold (kinda hard for them to do that when they are the monopoly), NSF are forced to work for little pay and are entiirely at the mercy of their 'employers'. Further more, they have to pay for their own bloody insurance out of the pittance they get.

Slavery by descent: is where people are either born into a slave class or are from a 'group' that society views as suited to being used as slave labour.

In this aspect, basically almost all Singapore males are slaves by descent. The few of the "white horse" from the elites are there just for show only.

Anonymous said...

majority unable to retire, would you consider that as a form of slavery too?

Anonymous said...

We are slaves forever until we move out of SlaveGaPore rule by MasterLee.

nofearSingapore said...

Hi chew and all:
Thanks for the different perspective.
Perhaps we are all slaves and yet not know that!
Maybe we are slaves but when told that we would deny that we needed to be freed!
Imagine trying to rescue the Chinese slaves in the Henan/Shanxi brick kilns but then the slaves telling us that they don't want to be free cos they have gotten used to the routine! Are we all victims of the Stockholm syndrome? Think about it!

Chew said...

I desire freedom from the oppression everyday in Singapore. So much so that I gave up working and living in Singapore. Every month I will return to Singapore for a day or two for the sole purpose of seeing my parents and as soon as I cross the causeway, I will be yearning to leave asap because I just couldn't breath. My wife and I had agreed not to give birth in Singapore, as not to let our children be born into a life of miserable slavery. I love Singapore but cannot bear the thoughts of living under the current unjust rule that intentionally penalize Singaporeans in every ways.

I long for the day when either Singapore is free, or I can get another citizenship in other places where the press is as free as the air we breath. In Singapore, the air is full of the same stench of propaganda as our press.

Take a look at this interesting video about a consumer wanting to divorce the advertiser. I want a divorce too PAP, because you are pretending to know me but yet you are no longer listening to me. If you don't go, I will.