Police rescue 548 slave workers in
Chinese policemen help a young worker to leave a
brick kiln in Hongtong County, Linfen City, North China's Shanxi Province
in late May 2007. [Shanxi News Net]
One worker rescued from a a brick kiln [Shanxi News
China's central government will
send a team of investigators to look into the use of "slave labor" at illegal
brick kilns in central China, which has raised great concerns among the public.
The Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MLSS), which will head the team,
said preliminary investigations show the incident may involve abducted and
"The team will find out the
truth as soon as possible, and we will go all out to rescue the workers who had
been forced to work as slaves in the brick kilns," said Sun Baoshu, deputy
minister of MLSS, on Friday.
"The criminal offenders will be dealt with to safeguard the legal interests
of the workers," Sun pledged.
To date 331 people, including nine children, were freed in Shanxi, bringing the total
number of slave workers rescued in China to 548, including 217 freed in the
neighboring Henan Province.
Police in Henan and Shanxi have staged raids on coal mines, brick kilns,
private contractors and small enterprises, as the crackdown continues.
Police in Henan Province arrested 120 people in a four-day crackdown
involving more than 35,000 police checking 7,500 kilns, while in Shanxi 38
people who were suspected of carrying out kidnapping and forced labor were
The crackdown campaign was launched after media reports
revealed that hundreds of children in Henan Province had been abducted and forced to work in kilns in Shanxi.
national wanted list
of Public Security has issued a wanted list of the second-highest importance for
a foreman accused of employing slave laborers in north China's Shanxi Province.
Heng Tinghan, 42, a native of central Henan Province, was suspected of
forcing people to work as slaves in a brick kiln in Hongtong County, Shanxi
since March 2006, which has left one dead and 20 injured, the ministry said.
Heng, about 1.7 meters tall, has a long face and is thin and
dark-complexioned. He speaks with a Henan accent.
A reward of 20,000 yuan ($2,500) is on offer to anyone who passed on
information that contributed to his arrest, according to the ministry.
To date, 331 people, including nine children, were freed in Shanxi, bringing
the total number of slave workers rescued to 548, including 217 freed in the
neighboring Henan Province, after police launched large-scale raids over brick
kilns, coal and iron mines. Twenty-four suspects have been