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Zhao Dagong: Zhang Lin makes Christmas goods in prison

(Sept. 12, 2005)I was shocked when rumor about the dissident free lance writer Zhang Lin's hunger strike and I have been trying to find the real reason he decided to start the hunger strike. I have been worrying that Zhang Lin would be tortured in prison. Now as expected, he indeed was tortured both in terms of his body and his spirit.

Zhang's wife Fang Cao told me that Zhang Lin and other prisoners work 20 hours a day. They have to get up as early as 4 to 5 a.m. and are not allowed to rest until next morning at 1 or 2 a.m. Their main assignment is to make Christmas products, such as Christmas trees and lights. Coincidentally, another dissident free lance writer Liu Shui wrote a similar letter in which he disclosed the fact he was assigned to make Christmas goods about the same period of time last year. Liu Shui is detained in a correction center in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. Based on an so-called theory of absolute economic development, many prisons, detention centers and labor camps in China are making various products for the market. It is not known, however, whether the profits go to the government or the government officers. The labors in prison are not simply cheap labors, they are slaves. What they are facing is not simply cruel exploitation, they are facing brutal rob. Within prisons in China, it is a common phenomenon that prisoners are maltreated, their human rights are violated, and international laws are ignored.

The maltreatment that Zhang Lin faces is not only forced working for a long time. Contrasting to other criminal prisoners, Zhang Lin is stripped of his right of communication with his family. According to Fang Cao, they have written to each other for about 10 times, but she didn't receive any one until Zhang Lin started hunger strike. At the prison, Zhang Lin is not allowed to read newspapers nor to write diary. Therefore, the reason that Zhang Lin goes on a hunger strike is because he does not have any other choice. He is fighting for his own rights and the rights of other prisoners. (boxun.com)

The international society has condemned and protested for the sentence that Zhang Lin received because of his publications. But there is no way to know about what he suffered, both his body and his spirit, in prison. When Ms. Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, visited China, she was of course not allowed to visit the Chinese prisons. Even if she were allowed, she would be allowed to visit selected "model prisons" as a show. It is said that the China will ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in order to meet the international standards. But in reality, it is impossible for China to follow the international standards. Isn't it obvious that the government and the party violate even the Chinese laws that they make themselves, needless to mention any international standards?

Zhang Lin's hunger strike has received positive result: It is said that he is no longer forced to work 20 hours a day. We, the people outside the jails, should not only be concerned to the cruel treatment that Zhang Lin faces, but also to the stripped basic rights of other prisoners.

There are three months left untl the next Christmas. The Christmas goods made from the Chinese prisons have already or will soon be put into the market, not only in China, but also likely in Europe and America. Christianity pursues equality, universal fraternity and freedom. If the gifts from Santa to children are made from the Chinese prisons by the Chinese prisoners against their will, isn't it an insult to God and Christianity? _(博讯自由发稿区发稿) (boxun.com)


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