Shanxi Governor Yu Youjun speaks to
the online media reporters at a press conference in Taiyuan, Shanxi
Province in this May 18, 2007 file
Shanxi Governor Yu Youjun yesterday made a self-criticism on behalf of the
provincial government for the recent slavery cases in illegally-run brick kilns
and mines across the province.
The rare move came during a meeting of the State Council, or the Cabinet,
presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao.
The State Council heard a preliminary report on the handling of the scandal
compiled by an investigation group comprising the Ministry of Labor and Social
Security, the Ministry of Public Security and the All-China Federation of Trade
of rural people, many of them children, were reportedly abducted, beaten,
imprisoned and forced into slave labor in Shanxi's brickyards in the past years,
stirring anger nationwide. The media have pointed to possible collusion between
local officials and kiln owners and alleged cover-ups.
The meeting noted that the slavery cases involved not only abduction by
gangsters, but deliberate injury and murder.
It asked government departments to go all out to crack down on such criminal
activities and save the victims to "safeguard social justice".
"The criminals should face the full force of the law and the rights of the
public, particularly children, must be protected," said the meeting.
To prevent a recurrence of such cases, a large-scale investigation will be
launched nationwide into laborers employed in small kilns and collieries.
About 160 suspects have been detained in Shanxi and Henan.
By Sunday night, about 45,000 police personnel had raided more than 8,000
kilns and small coal mines in the two provinces and freed 591 workers, including
The State Council ordered the Shanxi provincial government to step up the
investigation into the scandal and compensate the victims.
It also urged local governments and central ministries to
learn a lesson from the tragedy.
YONGJI, Shanxi -- Two labor watchdog officers in Yongji city of north China's
Shanxi Province have been detained by local police in connection with the kiln
Hou Junyuan, head of the labor inspection team of Yongji City's Labor and
Social Security Bureau, was accused of dereliction of duty and detained on
Another officer from the team, Shang Guangze, was arrested on charges of
abuse of power.
The two had transferred an under-aged laborer, who was from central China's
Henan Province and being sent back home, to another kiln for new employment.
Shang has been sacked.
The detail of the cases is still under investigation.
Police have arrested 168 people and are seeking more than 20 other suspects
involved in the forced labor scandal.
By Sunday night, about 45,000 policemen had raided more than 8,000 kilns and
small coal mines in the two provinces and freed 591 workers, including 51
The criminals are suspected not only of illegal employment practices, but
also of abduction, limiting others' freedom, employing underage workers and even
China Daily - Xinhua