China announces 359 rescued from brick kilns in Shanxi

Updated: 2007-06-22 18:55

TAIYUAN, Shanxi -- A total of 359 people, including 12 children, have been rescued from illegal brick kilns in north China's Shanxi Province, the joint investigation group announced on Friday afternoon.

Police are checking up the ages of nine other people to make sure whether they are child labors, said Sun Baoshu, vice minister of labor and social security and concurrently head of the investigation group jointly dispatched by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the Ministry of Public Security and the All-China Federation of Trade Unions to probe into the forced labor scandal.

Employment of child labor aged below 16 is forbidden in China.

Among the 359 rescued workers, 174, including three children, were lured to the kilns and 185 were forced labors.

Police have also found that 65 of the forced workers rescued are mentally retarded, 15 of whom are to be identified and local government is trying to contact with their families.

One mentally retarded worker, Liu Bao from northwest China's Gansu Province, was beaten to death in a brick kiln in Caosheng village of Hongtong County in November 2006. According to the other 31 workers rescued from the kiln, they were confined there and forced to work for more than 15 hours a day without salary.

Six suspects involved in the case, including the kiln boss Wang Bingbing and foreman Heng Tinghan, had been arrested, and three others, including Yao Haichao, a foreman who has allegedly enticed children to work in kilns, are still at large. Police are hunting for them.

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