Open Letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:
My husband, Cheng Yuan, is subjected to forced labor in ChiShan Prison and can wait no longer
Ms Michelle Bachelet
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Palais Wilson – 52 rue des Pâquis CH-1201 Geneva (Switzerland)
Honourable High Commissioner Ms Bachelet,
18 May 2022
I am Shi Minglei (施明磊), the wife of Chinese human rights defender Cheng Yuan (程渊), who is currently being held in ChiShan Prison (湖南赤山监狱). Cheng Yuan has been arbitrarily detained by the Chinese government for more than 1,000 days. To date, lawyers and family members have been prohibited from meeting with him.
I understand that you are going to China soon to investigate the issue of concentration camps and forced labor in Xinjiang. I would like to draw your concern to the fact that forced labor is also notoriously common in the Chinese prisons. Recently, new evidence has surfaced to show that the appalling condition of the sweatshops in ChiShan prison in Hunan province where my husband, Cheng Yuan, is imprisoned and where prisoners are subjected to long hours of forced labor.
Prior to your visit, the Chinese government ratified on 20 April 2022 two international conventions against forced labor: the Forced Labor Convention, adopted in 1930, and the Abolition of Forced Labor Convention adopted in 1957. Accordingly, China has the legal obligation to accept the monitoring by the international community and immediately disclose the conditions of its prisons to assure the world the personal safety, physical and mental well-beings of the detainees.
Unfortunately, the real situation of forced labour is abhorrent in the prisons in China. Mr. Lee Ming-cheh (李明哲), a Taiwanese recently released from the ChiShan Prison, has revealed the seriousness of forced labor in that prison in a press conference he held on 10 May 2022.
1. Prolonged hours of forced labor
Inmates in custody work 11-12 hours a day, and in some quarters even 13 to 15 hours a day. There are only four days of rest per year.
Although there are chemical substances, harmful gases and dust pollution in the work- place, the prisoners are lack of basic protection, resulting in damage to their health and even leaving them with permanent occupational health issues.
There are chemicals harmful to human body in the respective sweatshop floors where shoe soles and electronic products are manufactured. But prisoners are only provided with or- dinary masks or even fabric masks that are meant to be washed and reused. Only when leaders come to inspect the prison that they would be given disposable medical masks. However, none of these masks provide sufficient protection against harmful dust or chem- icals in that environment.
Mr. Lee Ming-cheh has confirmed that the workload in the sweatshop floors in the ChiShan Prison is massive and it has remained so for a long time. He also noted that the
workload increased drastically after prison director Liu Dongwei (刘冬伟) took office. The problem in the ChiShan Prison was not only about forced labor which Mr. Lee Ming-
cheh confirmed. It was also about torture. The ChiShan Prison (also known as Yuan Jiang 沅江) was also where Mr. Li Wangyang (李旺阳) was detained during the final years of
his life. Shortly before Li Wangyang was “suicided” in June 2012, he recounted his horrific experiences being tortured in an interview with a TV journalist from Hong Kong. We recall also in as early as 2004, a group of 241 family members of the FLG practitioners filed a joint complaint the ChiShan Prison for torturing FLG followers and for its pro- longed hours of labour.
I shudder at the thoughts that the shoes, clothes, and electronic products that you and I purchase far away from China could be manufactured by my husband Cheng Yuan and his colleague,
Wu Gejianxiong (吴葛健雄), who is also jailed in ChiShan where both are subjected to long hours of forced labor in harsh conditions. My heart bleeds when I think of him working in a
prison sweatshop filled with toxic gases and chemicals.
My husband, Cheng Yuan, is the founder of Changsha Funeng_(长沙富能), a non-govern-
mental non-profit organization on human rights advocacy. For more than a decade, he advocated and worked to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the UN Convention on the Rights of Women and Children, and the UN Convention against Torture in China, striving to improve the situation of the disadvantaged in the country. He is one of the leading advocates for the abolition of the family planning policies in China, and has conducted extensive work on research, studies, legislative advocacy and legal aid. He also
took part in UN meetings multiple times to share his views and contribute to the betterment and implementation of the conventions.
Cheng Yuan suffered insomnia before he was arrested. His family has a history of inherited cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and he also has cervical spondylosis and lumbar strain. Now that he is in ChiShan Prison, reportedly with 13-15 hours of forced labor per day, plus sleep deprivation as inmates are not allowed to turn off the lights, I am very worried that my husband would have collapsed before he could make it out of the prison!
We, myself and Cheng Yuan’s sister, father and brother, hope that you, Madam Commissioner, will intervene into the matter and demand the Chinese government to immediately stop all forms of forced labour in all the prisons in China, and in particular, that in the ChiShan Prison.
At the same time, we earnestly plead that you and your team will express your concern on the case of Cheng Yuan, with regard to his health and living conditions. We urge that
ChiShan Prison immediately arrange for Cheng Yuan to meet his family members including his sister, brother and father,
ChiShan Prison immediately stop all forms of forced labour on Cheng Yuan,
Arrangements be made for Cheng Yuan to have medical examination to ensure his right to health; and
His rights to communicate free with his family in writing and through phone calls be protected in accordance to the law in China.
威爾遜宮– 52 rue des Pâquis， CH-1201 日內瓦 (瑞士)
我是目前被關在赤山監獄的長沙富能 NGO 工作者程淵的妻子施明磊。程淵已經被中國政府任意羈押 1000 多天。至今被禁止律師會見，被禁止家屬探視。
中國政府在您和您的團隊到達前，中國於 2022 年 4 月 20 日批準了兩項反對強迫勞動的國際公約，分別為 1930 年通過的《強迫勞動公約》以及 1957 年通過的《廢除強迫勞動公約》。就此中國有法律義務接受國際社會的監督，即時公開其監獄的狀況，確保被囚人士的安全和身心健康。
但很遺憾的是在中國監獄內，強迫勞動的實際情況令人發指。近日台灣李明哲從赤山監獄出獄，在 5 月 10 日發布記者會，揭發了赤山監獄的強迫勞動的情況十分嚴重:
在押的囚犯每天要勞動 11-12 個小 時，有幾個監區甚至每天勞動 13-15 個小時。一年只有 4 天休息時間。
赤山監獄做鞋底成型的車間和做電子產品的車間有對人體有害的化學物質，囚犯 戴的卻是普通的口罩，甚至是布料做成的口罩，需要時常換洗，只有監獄有領導來視察時才會發一次行的醫用口罩。而兩者都不是專業的防護粉塵和有毒氣體的 口罩。
不但李明哲先生證實湖南赤山監獄的強迫勞動的問題，赤山(沅江)更是李旺陽 曾經所在的監獄，李旺陽在 2012 年 6 月被自殺前曾向香港媒體詳述在獄中被酷刑虐待的各種恐怖經歷。早於 2004 年更有 241 位法輪功家屬聯名控告湖南赤山監獄 酷刑虐待法輪功學員以及長時間強迫勞動的問題。
我不敢想象，也許今天您我在海外買的鞋子，衣服，電子產品，是我先生程淵和他的 同事吳葛健雄在環境惡劣的赤山監獄被長期強迫勞動做出來的。我想到他在赤山監獄 充滿有毒氣體和化學物質的車間工作的場景，我的心在滴血。
我的先生程淵是長沙富能 NGO 機構的創始人，程淵是聯合國人權公約的積極實踐者，過去十幾年他致力於中國的弱勢群體平權，他在中國倡導和實踐《聯合國殘疾人公約》 《聯合國婦女兒童權利公約》 《聯合國禁止酷刑公約》等公約，以此來改善中國 弱勢群體的生存現狀。他是廢除計劃生育政策的主要倡導者之一，他為中國人的生育 權的回歸做了大量的調查，研究，立法倡導，法律援助的工作，並多次參與聯合國的 研討會，為公約的完善和實施提出有建設性的意見。
程淵在被抓之前，有失眠的問題，他的家族有遺傳的心腦血管病和糖尿病病史，同時 他有頸椎病和腰肌勞損。現在他在赤山監獄，每日 13-15 個小時的強迫勞動，加上不允許關燈的睡眠虐待，我十分擔心他撐不到出獄身體就垮掉了!